Do bananas lower blood pressure? This is a common question that people with high blood pressure ask, because why not.
Banana is a very nutritious fruit and a common ingredient in most breakfast recipes, including pancakes, smoothies, oatmeal and more.
However, if you have a chronic condition like high blood pressure, you may want to eat foods that can help improve your symptoms and make your life better.
Banana Nutritional Facts
To better understand how bananas can impact your blood pressure and overall health, it’s best first to understand what nutrients are in a banana.
One medium-sized banana (118 grams) contains about:
- Calories: 105 calories
- Carbohydrates: 27 grams
- Protein: 1.3 grams
- Fat: 0.4 gram
- Dietary fiber: 3.1 grams
- Vitamin B6: 0.4 milligram, or 22 percent of the daily recommended value (DV)
- Vitamin C: 10.3 milligrams, or 17 percent DV
- Manganese: 0.3 milligram, or 16 percent DV
- Potassium: 422 milligrams, or 12 percent DV
- Magnesium: 31.9 milligrams, or 8 percent DV
- Folate: 23.6 micrograms, or 6 percent DV
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2): 0.1 milligram, or 5 percent DV
- Copper: 0.1 milligram, or 5 percent DV
- Niacin: 0.8 milligram, or 4 percent DV
- Pantothenic acid: 0.4 milligram, or 4 percent DV
- Phosphorus: 26 milligrams, or 3 percent DV
How Do Bananas Lower Blood Pressure?
So, do bananas lower blood pressure? The simple answer is yes. Bananas are a good source of potassium, a mineral that plays an important role in lowering blood pressure. But how exactly does that happen? Let’s learn more below!
1. Bananas are a good source of potassium
Potassium is a mineral and a type of electrolyte that the body needs to work properly. Electrolytes conduct electrical impulses throughout the body. Potassium also offers other benefits, including maintaining healthy bones and muscles, improving kidney health, and maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system, including lowering blood pressure levels.
Potassium lowers blood pressure by increasing the elimination of too much sodium through the urine.
So what’s sodium? Like potassium, sodium is a mineral that can increase your blood pressure by causing you to retain water. When you eat sodium-rich foods like most processed foods, it causes your body to hold on to more water. This extra water increases your blood volume, which then causes the blood pressure to go up.
When potassium comes in, it balances out your sodium levels by promoting its elimination from the body through urine.
Additionally, sodium causes blood vessels to narrow and stiffen, forcing the heart to pump harder to get the blood through, which again causes high blood pressure.
Potassium, on the other hand has been shown to promote blood vessel wall relaxation allowing blood to flow more freely and under low pressure.
In an analysis of 33 studies, researchers found that when people with high blood pressure increased their potassium intake, both their systolic and diastolic blood pressure decreased by 3.49 mmHg and 1.96 mmHg, respectively.
The high potassium intake was also associated with a 24% lower risk of stroke, which is a common complication of high blood pressure.
In a different study conducted on 1,285 participants, researchers found that those who ate more potassium reduced their systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 6 mmHg and 4 mmHg, respectively.
2. Bananas are a good source of magnesium
Magnesium is another important mineral that has also been shown to promote healthy blood pressure levels. Experts believe that magnesium can lower blood pressure by:
i. Acting as a natural calcium channel blocker
Calcium channel blockers (CCBs)are a class of high blood pressure medications. They work by blocking some of the calcium from entering the heart and arteries. Calcium is an essential nutrient that causes your heart and blood vessels to contract or squeeze, which helps the heart to beat. In the presence of hypertension, these effects can cause the blood pressure to rise even higher.
It blocks the attachment of sodium to the smooth muscle cells in the arteries.
This helps prevent the increased tension and vasoconstriction associated with sodium, thus causing the blood pressure to drop.
ii. Increasing the production of nitric oxide
Nitric oxide (NO) is a molecule produced naturally in the body, and it’s one of the most important molecules for blood vessel health. NO acts as a vasodilator, meaning it relaxes the inner muscles of your arteries, causing them to dilate.
As a result, the pressure within will drop, and blood will flow more freely. Magnesium has been shown to increase nitric oxide production from the cells lining your inner blood vessel walls.
iii. Reducing peripheral vascular resistance
Peripheral vascular resistance is the resistance of peripheral blood vessels. As it increases, the blood pressure increases.
3. Bananas contain fiber
Research shows that an increase in dietary fiber can help lower blood pressure levels. In one study, increasing fiber intake by 25 grams in addition to the daily recommendation of 30 grams for 6 months was shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels by 9%, triglyceride levels by 23%, systolic blood pressure by 15%, and diastolic blood pressure by 28%.
4. Bananas can offer a good amount of vitamin B6
Low serum levels of vitamin B6 have been associated with increased blood pressure. At the same time, a high vitamin B6 intake has been shown to lower blood pressure in people with hypertension.
In one lab study, hypertensive stroke-prone rats treated with vitamin B6 exhibited significant improvement in their systolic blood pressure and neurological signs of ischemic attack.
5. They contain folate
Folate is a natural form of vitamin B9. The synthetic form often taken as a supplement is known as folic acid. Since the body cannot make vitamin B9, you have to obtain it from food or supplements.
Folate is essential for the production of red and white blood cells in the bone marrow, DNA synthesis, preventing birth defects, and preventing certain cancers.
Folate can also lower blood pressure, improve heart health, and lower the risk of developing stroke.
One study found that using folic acid along with antihypertensive drugs may significantly reduce blood pressure compared to using antihypertensives alone.
One review of 30 studies with more than 80,009 participants also found that supplementing with folic acid reduced the risk of developing heart disease by 4% and that of reducing stroke by 10%.
This is due to the fact that folate can help break down homocysteine. Homocysteine is an amino acid that can cause heart disease if left to accumulate.
6. Bananas contain vitamin C
Vitamin C is a common nutrient known for its ability to boost the immune system and promote skin health. However, it can also help bring your blood pressure down.
According to researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, vitamin C can act as a diuretic causing you to excrete more water and sodium through urine. This can help lower blood volume and relax the blood vessel walls, causing the blood pressure to drop.
Additional Benefits of Eating Bananas:
1. Improve digestive health
The high fiber content in bananas can help your bowels stay regular.
Bananas also contain specific types of fiber, such as pectin, which is found in both ripe and unripe bananas. Pectin can help soften the stool and prevent constipation.
They also contain resistant starch, which acts as a probiotic, helping feed the good bacteria in your gut.
2. Bananas are full of antioxidants
Antioxidants are natural plant compounds that protect the body from free radical damage.
A good example of antioxidants in bananas includes flavonoids and amines that have been shown to prevent heart disease and degenerative conditions.
3. Promotes kidney health
Besides lowering blood pressure, their high potassium levels can maintain healthy kidneys.
A study done on people with early-stage kidney disease found that potassium could lower blood pressure and slow kidney disease progression in people with hypertension.
That being said, people with late-stage kidney disease and those on dialysis may want to limit their intake. So before you introduce more potassium to your diet, ensure you speak to your doctor first.
4. Bananas can promote exercise recovery
Bananas are rich in easily digestible carbs and electrolytes, potassium and magnesium. These two minerals are essential for numerous functions in the body but can be lost through sweat during vigorous exercises. So bananas can help replenish them.
Ripe bananas also contain simple sugars that can boost your pre-workout energy and improve performance.
5. Bananas can boost skin health
Bananas are a great vitamin C source, essential for collagen production. Collagen is the main structural protein in the skin, so eating foods that promote collagen production is important for maintaining healthy skin.
Bananas also contain some vitamin A, which is another important vitamin for skin health. Vitamin A can speed up healing and prevent breakouts. It can also strengthen the skin’s immune system.
Additionally, the antioxidants in bananas can help to protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells and are one of the main causes of wrinkles and other signs of aging.
Finally, eating bananas can help keep your skin hydrated from the inside out. This is because bananas contain high levels of water and electrolytes, which help keep the body hydrated. When you are properly hydrated, your skin will be less likely to become dry, cracked, or irritated.
How many bananas should you eat to lower blood pressure?
As seen in this article, bananas can be a great addition to your blood pressure diet, but how many bananas should you take to lower your blood pressure?
Well, according to various research, taking two bananas daily for a week may help bring your pressures down by up to ten points.
Are there side effects of eating bananas to lower blood pressure?
According to the American Heart Association, high-potassium foods like bananas can interfere with blood pressure medications and those used to treat heart disease.
However, they state that it would take more than one banana to raise the potassium to a dangerous level for an average person.
For this reason, those on high blood pressure medications or those with heart disease may want to keep their intake to not more than one banana a day.
How to Add Bananas to Your Diet?
According to the American Heart Association, certain preparations, such as banana chips and banana bread, may seem like a healthy way to enjoy the fruit.
However, most of these foods contain other unhealthy ingredients that can harm your health in various ways.
Instead, they recommend adding your banana to healthy recipes like smoothies made from other natural ingredients.
Easy Ways to Eat Bananas:
- As a healthy snack: A banana can make a great snack all on its own. Just peel and eat!
- Cut up and add to cereal or oatmeal: Start your day off right with a nutritious breakfast that includes bananas! Simply cut up a banana and add it to your favorite cereal or oatmeal.
- Make a sandwich: Banana sandwich is actually quite tasty and filling. Spread some peanut butter on a slice of bread, top with banana slices, and there it is! You have yourself a yummy sandwich for lunch or snack time.
- Make a fruit salad: There are many ways to eat a banana, but one of the most popular is to make a fruit salad. To do this, simply peel and chop up a banana into small pieces. Then, add in some other favorite fruits, such as apples or strawberries. Stir everything together and enjoy!
Use it as a natural sweetener: If you’re looking for a natural sweetener, banana is a great option. You can add it to smoothies, oatmeal, or yogurt. You can also use it to make homemade ice cream or pudding. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even bake with banana.
Up to this point, I believe your question “Do bananas lower blood pressure?” has been answered.
Bananas are versatile and nutritious fruits rich in potassium, magnesium, fiber, folate, and vitamin B6. All these nutrients can lower blood pressure and help improve your symptoms.
While some experts may recommend eating two bananas daily to achieve this benefit, those on high blood pressure medications may want to maintain one banana per day.
People with end-stage chronic kidney disease may also want to avoid bananas or any other food high in potassium. In this case, it’s always good to speak to your doctor about what’s best for you and what you should avoid.
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