Washington: Eating bananas every day could help prevent heart attacks and strokes, new research reveals. High in potassium, foods like bananas can stop fatal blockages from occurring and inhibit the hardening and narrowing of arteries.
Bananas are rich in a mineral called potassium. This mineral is important as it helps maintain fluid levels in the body and regulates the movement of nutrients and waste products in and out of cells.
Potassium also helps muscles to contract and nerve cells to respond. It keeps the heart beating regularly and can reduce the effect of sodium on blood pressure.
Potassium may reduce the risk of kidney stones forming as people age. In turn, healthy kidneys make sure that the right amount of potassium is kept in the body.
Researchers at the University of Alabama discovered the effects after analysing mice who were at risk of heart disease. The mice were then fed either low, normal or high levels of potassium with the results showing that the arteries of mice fed a low-potassium diet became significantly harder.
In contrast, the animals given high potassium had substantially less artery hardening and reduced stiffness in their aorta. As such, the vital mineral is thought to help prevent heart attacks and strokes in humans. However eating too much can cause stomach ache, nausea and diarrhoea.
Official advice is to consume 3,500mg of potassium each day, a quarter of which could be met by eating two bananas. Other foods rich in the mineral include potatoes, broccoli, sprouts, seeds, fish and poultry.