Banana is a great food that can help you overcome numerous challenges of the cardiovascular system including reducing the risk for heart attack. Whether you have ever had a heart attack or you want to prevent one, bananas might be one of the few foods that can help keep you far away from it.
But how can bananas achieve this feat? There are several reasons why bananas are considered an ideal food for those suffering from heart diseases. Below are some of these reasons:
- Bananas contain magnesium which helps prevent heart attack and arteriosclerosis.
- This wonderful fruits also contain B group vitamins, which are required for the production of energy in the heart muscles.
- They also contain high amounts of potassium. They are among the richest fresh fruit source for this mineral. Potassium helps prevent arterial hypertension, stroke, and arrythmia.
- Banana also contains high amounts of vegetable fiber which helps lower cholesterol level. Excess cholesterol in the body can buildup in blood vessels, and eventually block the flow of blood to vital organs such as heart and brain. Situations that can lead to heart attack and stroke.
In the long run, almost all the benefits of banana on the cardiovascular system, including preventing heart attack, trail back to its richness in potassium. Low potassium levels in the body can cause muscle weakness and heartbeat irregularities, and increase your risk for heart attack.
Potassium and heart attack
Potassium has been shown to reduce calcification of the vascular tissues, which cause them to harden. Calcification occurs when calcium builds-up in the body tissues, organs, or blood vessels. It is already a known fact that hardened or stiff arteries can lead to heart attack (1).
Numerous scientific studies have proven the benefits of potassium against heart attack. An interesting one, was a study carried out at University of Alabama at Birmingham. The study, although carried out on laboratory animals, evaluated the effect of dietary potassium on vascular calcification and arterial stiffness (2). The animals were given diets that were either low, normal or had high levels of potassium.
Interestingly, the results showed that arteries of animals fed with a low-potassium diet were significantly harder and stiffer; as compared to those fed with a high-potassium diet (they showed reduced artery hardening). The study showed the potential role of dietary potassium intake in regulating atherosclerotic vascular calcification and stiffness, which are key factors to heart attack.
Banana or Potassium supplements
While potassium is readily available in form of supplements, it is always better to get your potassium from food. And banana should be on top of your list for easy availability of this mineral. A medium-sized banana has about 422 milligrams of potassium, providing about 12 percent of the daily value for this mineral. However, you did have to take about 8 medium-sized bananas to get a full day’s worth of potassium.
On the other hand, potassium supplements can easily provide even more than the daily value for potassium. But while potassium pills provide only potassium, banana provides the body with numerous essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, some B-group vitamins, and manganese. It also provides the body with fiber, which has many health benefits.
In fact, taking banana over potassium pills is like killing more than five birds with one stone. You get the potassium you are looking for, and also benefit from its numerous health applications. You can read some of them here.
Moreover, bananas aren’t likely to cause any side effects, but potassium pills can cause nausea, diarrhea, stomach irritation, muscle weakness, and even slowed heart rate. This is why you shouldn’t consume potassium supplements, unless you are under the supervision of a qualified health care professional.