Category : Health & Lifestyle

How Potassium Can Help Blood Pressure and Why You Need Bananas

High Blood Pressure in America

High blood pressure is a condition that occurs when the force of pumping blood is too intense for the walls of the arteries. With millions of Americans affected each year, it has become one of the leading causes of strokes and heart attacks. While many different factors contribute to the development of hypertension, poor dietary and lifestyle choices have been shown to be largely responsible. 


Consuming sodium in excess is the main culprit here. The typical American diet is no stranger to salty foods, leading many to exceed their recommended daily intake. Contrarily, one of the nutrients we are consistently under consuming is potassium. To be specific, we’re only getting about half of our daily value. 


Potassium Supports More than Just Heart Health


This mineral is critical for our bodies to function properly. In particular, potassium supports strong muscle health and rapid healing from injury. In case you didn’t know, your heart is one of the most important muscles in your body. 


Potassium works to relax muscular tissue for the purposes of recovery and injury prevention. In the case of high blood pressure, taking in enough of this nutrient helps ease the walls of your arteries, reducing the excessive stress they are under. Understandably, several studies have indicated a link between low potassium levels and high blood pressure, thus leading to an increased risk of stroke.


Not only does potassium work to reduce the damage caused by excess sodium consumption, but it also helps speeds up how our body processes it. Eating too many salty foods leads to a water imbalance in our bodies. Essentially, sodium sucks up the water in our cells and slowly dehydrates us. In this instance, potassium serves as a vasodilator. 


That’s a big, fancy word for blood vessel expansion. So, while sodium increases the amount of pressure our blood is putting on our arteries, potassium helps them relax in order to accommodate for the excess force. Not only does this help lessen the immense stress on your heart, but the increased volume of blood helps move the sodium out of the body faster. 


How to Get More Potassium Into Your Diet

So, now that we’ve delved into the science behind high blood pressure, here’s how to introduce the solution into your life.


It’s fairly well-known that bananas are the glorified poster child in terms of optimal sources of potassium – a title rightfully earned.


Bananas contain about 10% of our daily recommended value of potassium. That’s a fairly noteworthy amount, especially because it’s all naturally occurring. While we’re a little bit biased, bananas are pretty much the perfect fruit to incorporate into your diet.


How Else Do Bananas Help?


So, we know that they’re high in potassium, but what else do they bring to the table? 


Well, for starters, they have a relatively balanced carbohydrate content. For the number of calories in a banana, the amount of carbs that you’re taking in is completely reasonable; you get the extra dose of energy without the concern of excess carbohydrates being converted into sugar. 


Moreover, bananas have a relatively low sugar content, making them a healthy choice for those struggling with the effects of an insulin imbalance or diabetes. 


But, perhaps the most important factor of all, is that bananas hardly have any sodium in them. When you eat the fruit, you’re doing everything to help your body recover from hypertension and avoiding anything that could exacerbate it. 


With that being said, diet is only a facet of a comprehensive plan to reduce high blood pressure. Alongside what we eat, our activity levels factor heavily into our risk of hypertension. Those leading a sedentary lifestyle are also at an increased risk of high blood pressure as their heart does not get the proper stimulation it needs to stay strong and healthy.


One of the best ways to improve heart health is by incorporating more cardio into your everyday routine. Since bananas help energize the body and digest quickly, this makes them the ideal pre-workout snack. 


Sleep and Stress Is a Huge Factor in Health


Another important lifestyle factor to consider is sleeping patterns. Our muscles repair themselves while we sleep so it becomes ever so important to get a full night’s rest. As mentioned throughout, your heart is just one big muscle. While it has its variances from other muscles, it will still behave the same way as other ones in your body. 


Hypertension places a significant amount of stress on the walls of your arteries and it’s vital to repair any damage before it gets out of hand. Alongside all of their other wonderful qualities, bananas help promote healthy sleep, allowing your muscles to get the rehabilitation they need.


Bananas are packed full of tryptophan which produces a head to toe calming sensation. Tryptophan can not only help you fall asleep faster but also allows you to rest longer. This proves to be an invaluable resource when it comes to helping your heart recover. 


While physical factors contribute significantly to high blood pressure, mental factors play a role as well. 


Stress management is vital to getting hypertension under control. When you’re in a tense state, your body’s healing abilities are one of the first things to go. This is particularly problematic for those already suffering from high blood pressure as it reduces the rate at which your heart and arteries correct the damage associated with the excess force from the blood. 


Bananas can help alleviate this as they’re full of vitamins and minerals that can help balance the chemicals in your brain. In addition, this fruit has been shown to promote serotonin production which helps combat the effects of stress. Even if you aren’t able to drastically change the external factors that are causing your tension, eating a banana can help reduce the physiological response that your body experiences.


All in all, managing high blood pressure is an ongoing and multifaceted approach. By taking several steps to improve your diet, your physical activity levels, and your mental health, you can successfully manage the condition. If you’re looking for an easy way to prioritize your heart health, we encourage you to start incorporating more bananas into your diet. As a whole food, all its different components will work in their unique ways to alleviate high blood pressure. 

Should You Refrigerate Bananas

We’ve all been there: buying a perfect bunch of bananas, only for them to turn brown and spotty after a few days. Don’t get us wrong, we love banana bread as much as the next person, but we’d also prefer to enjoy bananas in their natural state.


So we’re left with the age-old question: how can we extend the life of our produce?


Banana Storage


The answer lies in how you store your bananas. Contrary to popular belief, storing your bananas in the fridge may actually prolong the ripeness stage. Let’s start by explaining some of the science behind it.


There is a myth that refrigerating bananas has a tendency to speed up the decomposition process. After all, if you’ve ever put a bunch of bananas in the fridge, you’ll notice that the peel will soon turn brown. But this is merely an aesthetic response and does not reflect the fruit inside.


In fact, the cold temperatures in the fridge help slow down the conversion of starches into sugar. This process is exactly what causes overripe bananas to be so sweet. So, while the peel may make it seem that your produce is expired, the fruit inside is in its prime state.


Timing is everything when it comes to refrigerating bananas. If you place your produce in the fridge while it’s still green, you’ll slow down the ripening process too early, perhaps even preventing it altogether. You want to allow plenty of time for some of the starches to convert to sugar or else you’ll be left with bitter fruit.


Likewise, putting the bananas in too late will do little in preventing decay. As the fruit begins to break down, it gives off ethylene gas. This plays a major role in speeding up the decay process. In fact, it’s so strong that it will even promote the rapid ripening of other fruits and vegetables nearby. 



When To Refrigerate Your Bananas


The ideal time to place bananas in the fridge is when they are completely yellow and beginning to show signs of small brown spots. At this point, enough of the starches have been converted into sugars and the fruit has its prime flavor, which is what we’re trying to prolong. When stored at this stage of ripeness, they will last up to a week. 


While chilling bananas is the key to keeping them fresh, there are a few other things you can do to help extend their life. For starters, avoid peeling the bananas before you intend on consuming them. While the darkened peel may be unsettling, know that it is no representation of the fruit inside. Exposing the flesh of the fruit to air will only speed up the decay process.


In addition, make sure to pull apart your bunches of bananas before you refrigerate them. While many believe that keeping the fruit together will prolong its freshness, it could actually speed it up. In the instance that one of your bananas begins to decay, splitting them up will reduce the secondhand effect it has on the rest of your produce. 


Refrigerator Placement Matters


Once they’re in the fridge, make sure to place them in the respective produce drawer. Often, these are at the bottom and intentionally closed off from the rest of the contents of the fridge. 


Produce is very sensitive to other forms of decay so placing it next to something like leftovers could promote the opposite effect of what you’re going for. Plus, it’s important to keep your bananas away from the light or the cooling unit. Any excessive heat from the lightbulb can damage the fruit inside while unintended freezing can make it near impossible to peel your banana. 


As time goes on, make sure to clear out any overripe produce from your produce drawer. Just as bananas give off ethylene, plenty of other fruits and vegetables do the same. As much as we’d like to offer advice to prevent these from going bad as well, we’re only attuned to bananas and their unique ripening process.


What To Do With Green Bananas


Since timing is so important for extending the lifespan of your produce, you may be wondering what to do with your green bananas. If you’re interested in refrigerating your bunch but it’s simply not ripe enough, there are a few different things you can do to jumpstart this process. 


For starters, placing your bananas next to ripe fruit can help speed up the process. As mentioned above, the ethylene gas let off by other types of produce can speed up the decay. This also means that it can fast track the time it takes for your bananas to ripen. Just make sure to keep a close eye on the color of your bananas. Without close supervision, your green fruit can quickly turn brown over the course of a day.


If this seems too risky for you, don’t worry, we get it. There are plenty of other ways to get your bananas ready for chilling. Try hanging the bunch from a banana tree. Not only do these special fruit stands help prevent bruising to the flesh, but they also increase airflow to the banana. An oxygen-rich environment will only help speed up the starch to sugar conversion process. 


How ever you decide to store your bunches of bananas, be mindful of one thing: that the space is room temperature. This environment is ideal for ripening as the mild temperature neither slows nor accelerates the starch-sugar breakdown.


The best spot to keep your bananas as they ripen is in your kitchen, in a spot that is hidden from direct sunlight. Also, pay mind to the appliances close by; try to keep your bunch away from heated appliances, like an oven, as well as cooling appliances, like the freezer. After a few days, your bananas will be ready to be placed in the fridge. 


So there you have it, our best-kept secret for keeping your bananas as fresh as possible. With a little preparation, you can extend the life of your produce and significantly cut back on waste. Now that’s something to smile about.

Can and Should You Be Eating the Banana Peel?

We know what you’re thinking: you probably read the title, shook your head in disbelief, and told yourself not to click. But, hear us out for a second. We all know the health benefits of consuming bananas, but what about the nutritional value of the peels? 

After all, several fruits are consumed entirely, peel included. So, what makes bananas different?

We were determined to find out and so we did a bit of digging. As it turns out, banana peels are pretty bitter albeit still edible. But, if you’ve ever had a wheatgrass shot before, you’ll know that nutritious foods are not always adored for their flavor.

West vs East: Eat or Toss the Banana Peel?

In Western culture, it’s common practice to peel a banana and toss the yellow casing. It’s been indoctrinated in our culture that banana peels are a form of waste to be disposed of, whether into the trash bin or onto the floor if you’re a prankster. 

Once we realized this, we started to understand the way our culture has impacted our food habits. We don’t know about you, but we’ve never seen someone in public readily eating a banana peel. So, it probably just never occurred to us that that was even an option. 

Whether they’re culturally acceptable to consume or not doesn’t change the fact that we may have been sleeping on a nutrient-packed food. So, we began researching how other cultures consume their bananas to see if there was something to be learned. 

As it turns out, banana peels are eaten in some Eastern cuisines, especially in India. And it doesn’t appear to be a passing fad. We found decades-old recipes that explained different ways to fry, bake, and boil banana peels so that they are palatable to eat. But, why all the hassle? 

Well, in addition to the nutrients in the flesh of the fruit, the peel is full of vitamins and fiber. Essentially, consuming the peel just helps boost the health benefits that can be obtained from the fruit. Many opt to cook banana peels so that they are softer and easier to digest and while others believe that they can actually aid in digestion due to their fiber content. 

In countries that don’t have regular access to vitamin supplements, this extra bit of nutrition can make a huge difference in their overall health. It’s something we don’t even consider because of the accessibility of vitamins and nutrient-rich food we have in Western countries. 



So yes, in some cultures, people do eat the banana peels. But what about their place here in America? Well, there may be a more creative application here in the West and it may surprise you. 

There has been a growing movement of sustainable living and healthy eating that has surmounted across the US. This has lead many to adopt a vegan lifestyle — one where they neither consume nor use animal products. 

When people first hear this, they often assume that vegans just eat fruit and salads for every meal of the day. What has evolved is quite the contrary. Vegan foodies everywhere are finding creative ways to make their favorite meals sans meat.

Times are Changing

Last year, the world discovered that shredded jackfruit can act as a meat substitute. Due to its stringy texture and ability to soak up flavoring, it is most commonly used as a form of “pulled pork”. The only downside, however, is that it is expensive and difficult to find in supermarkets. But you know what is cheap and readily available? Bananas.

Believe it or not, vegan chefs have found a way to capitalize on the nutritional benefits of banana peels while making a delicious, animal-free meal. And who’s to say that we won’t discover more uses for this part of the banana? Only time, and Pinterest, will tell. 

Skepticism Around the Nutritional Value of the Banana Peel

While others seem to be on board, there is definitely quite a bit of skepticism, as well. Heck, you might’ve clicked on this post just to see if we were serious! There are surely some pros to consider but it wouldn’t be without a couple of cons. 

For starters, scientists are somewhat skeptical about the “magical” benefits of eating banana peels. In their eyes, there are numerous other ways to consume fiber, protein, and vitamins. Ways that are much more enjoyable than munching on a banana peel.

A lot of food scientists also see a psychological factor at play here. People are always looking for new avenues to unlock the key to health. The grapefruit diet. Juice cleanses. Eating literal baby food. All are just a few of the crazy methods people have used to try and lose weight to become “healthy.” 

There’s a lot to be said about this type of eating but we’ll keep it simple and say this: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. And the same could be said for consuming banana peels. After all, if they had been revered for their amazing nutritional value, why do so few people eat them on a regular basis?

Sustainability and Reducing Waste

Another common reason people opt to chew on their banana peels has to do with sustainability. After all, humans are becoming more wasteful every year and it’s putting a strain on the planet. 

The improper disposal of food waste still contributes to pollution, regardless of how readily it decomposes. As it breaks down, fruit releases ethylene gas, the same gas that helps ripen the flesh.

It’s important to note that ethylene is classified as an indirect greenhouse gas. Essentially, this means that, while they don’t cause excessive atmospheric warning, these gases definitely help enable it. 

This may not seem like much of a concern when your choosing between eating your banana peel or throwing it away.  But, when you take into account that 50% of produce, or 60 million tons to be exact, gets thrown away in America annually, you’re looking at a much larger problem. 



With this in mind, some people are pursuing “zero-waste” lifestyles. This way of living is exactly as it sounds: there is great care taken to avoid creating unnecessary waste. One of the common practices included in this way of living is the belief that no food should be wasted. Under these circumstances, it makes perfect sense why someone would feel compelled to eat a banana peel. 

But, it can’t go without saying that there’s a much simpler way to handle food waste. Composting is an excellent method of discarding what remains once the produce has been consumed. Not only does it speed up the break-down process and cut down on pollution, but also leaves you with all-natural fertilizer to use in your yard. 

In this instance, consuming the rinds and peels of your produce would just be unnecessary. Plus, it may be putting you in harm’s way.

If the banana has not been thoroughly cleaned, depending on how the fruit has been produced, there could be pesticide residue left behind. The chemicals used in the mainstream production of bananas are incredibly harmful if ingested over a long period of time. If you still feel compelled to consume your banana peel, a good wash is in order to prevent any unwanted chemical exposure.

So, what do you think about all of this? Do you think the people eating bananas, peel included, are crazy? Or do you see some weight to the benefits? Let us know in the comments, we’re interested to know where you stand.