Does “being healthy” feel like a daunting task? Like everything “good” is off limits and a really good diet is pretty boring? I thought like this for a long time too… but I'm happy to say it's not the case ;-)
Eating healthy is fun! I'm being serious here… there are hundreds of different healthy foods that taste amazing and give you tons of energy… I cannot wait to share them with you! That's why i created “The Secret Foods” blog series which will be dedicated to the most amazing foods on the planet (in no particular order), What they are, Why they are important, and How to enjoy them… Here goes…
Top 10 AMAZING goods you need on your plate TODAY
#8 of 10 Bananas
What it is…
I can imagine you have enjoyed, or tried, a banana once in your life. They are the most popular fruit in the world! According to horticulturist, bananas were actually the first fruit on the earth. More fun facts, bananas are botanically a berry, and don’t actually grow from a tree. Bananas are technically a high herb, the “trunk” of the banana plant is made of tightly overlapping leaves.
With almost 1,000 varieties of bananas, you may find them in a variety of sizes, colors and firmness. The most popular banana, the kind we typically eat, are dessert bananas. Another popular banana are plantains, a starchier banana used for cooking.
Why they’re important…
Bananas are one of the best natural foods for athletic performance. They are a quick delicious snack, containing essential nutrients that may directly enhance your performance. Eating a banana can help reduce exercise-related muscle cramps and soreness. They are beneficial for athletes before, during and even after exercise. Besides their health benefits, they are cheap and convenient! Bananas have even been proven to be as beneficial as sports drinks.
Top 5 Health Benefits…
Great source potassium - Bananas are well known for their high potassium content, a super important nutrient for athletes. Potassium is critical in many body functions, such as movement of muscles, regulating water levels in the body, and preventing cramps. During exercise, potassium is depleted through muscles and sweat. Low potassium can effect athletic performance.
Instant energy - Bananas are a super source for quick and effective energy. Their carbohydrate and healthy sugar combination provide added energy to keep your mind and body sharp throughout activity. Bananas typically have 30g of carbohydrate, perfect amount to give you an instant energy boost.
Tyrosine - Think mental game focus. This amino acid helps your brain produce nor-epinephrine that can enhance alertness, ability to focus and level of motivation. Great water-break snack during a game or athletic event.
Vitamin B-6 booster - When pushing your body for prolonged periods, your body needs more vitamin B-6. Vitamin B-6 keeps your nerves working right and helps your body release energy from nutrients.
Healthy sleeping pill alternative - The magnesium and potassium in bananas can help relax overstressed muscles. They also have tryptophan (think post turkey dinner sleepy) which converts to serotonin and melatonin—brain calming hormones.
Top 5 Ways to Eat A Banana…
Bananas are one of the most accessible fruits around. They are perfect for any athlete who wants a healthy, performance-enhancing snack that is affordable. Besides just peeling the banana and eating it, there are some other fun ways to enjoy them!
Top your oatmeal with 1 diced banana, cinnamon and nuts
Banana ice cream – get a soft ripe banana, peel and cut into coins (any size). Place banana into an airtight container (freezer bags work fine) and freeze for at least 2 hours. Place frozen banana into a food processor or powerful blender until it is soft like ice cream! You can add cocoa powder, cinnamon or any other kinds of flavors and top with chocolate chips and nuts
Add them to your smoothie. Try blending ½ frozen banana, ½ cup frozen pineapple, ½ juice of a lime and 1C coconut water or milk of choice.
Dehydrate them into chips! Preheat oven to 200*, cut bananas into ¼” slices, dip slices in lemon juice and place onto cooking sheet. Bake for 3 hours, turning over once halfway.
Banana oatmeal bites: you can make cookie bites with 2 ripe bananas, 1C steel cut oats, 1 Tbsp cinnamon and 2tbsp dark chocolate chips
I hope you are enjoying the secret foods! Eat power food, be powerful. Side note! I am officially a Board Certified Sports Dietitian! I passed an extra tough exam this past Monday, and can happily say I am an expert in sports nutrition. Very excited to be able to utilize this certification with you all! If you need any questions answered, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lindsay Wexler, RDN, CSSD, LD
Clinical Dietitian, Board Certified Sports Dietitian