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Fruit Bites for Teens: Bananas

bananasThere seems to be something funny about bananas. People in cartoons are always slipping on banana peels. If you've "gone bananas," you're silly or bonkers. Turn a banana on its side and you get the most important part of a smiley face.

But nobody's laughing about the nutrition in this most popular fruit. Bananas are loaded with healthy nutrients. Here's how bananas can contribute to your teenage life.

Bananas are a healthy comfort food. Because they are full of B vitamins -- known as stress-busting vitamins -- bananas are good at calming you when you're stressed out.

Bananas can help athletes recover from a hard workout by resupplying potassium. If potassium is low, you can get muscle cramps and heart problems. Just one banana can replace the potassium you lose during an hour or two of hard exercise.

Bananas help you recover from diarrhea. They are part of the BRAT diet (banana, rice, applesauce, toast) recommended after stomach upsets or diarrhea. Nutrients in these foods help restore fluid and electrolyte balance.

Bananas help keep you "regular." Ripe bananas are a good source of fiber, which does all sorts of good things for you. Fiber makes you feel fuller faster, and it prevents constipation. Bananas also naturally contain prebiotics. Prebiotics help nourish the "good bacteria" in your intestines to keep your gut healthy.

Bananas protect your heart. The fiber in bananas works with potassium to protect you from a few health issues. Hopefully you won't care about these problems until much later in life -- high blood pressure, hardened arteries, and strokes.

All these nutrients are packed into about 100 calories per medium-size banana.

Teen-Appealing Ways to Eat Bananas

Bananas are easy to eat on the go, and they are good a variety of ways.

Peel and eat a banana while you wait for the bus.

Make a peanut butter and banana sandwich to get some protein, too. (Because peanut butter is calorie-dense, keep it to one serving -- 2 tablespoons.)

Peel and freeze a banana, then use it to make a smoothie.

For an occasional decadently delicious treat, slice a banana lengthwise, spritz on some butter spray and broil or grill it, then drizzle with honey or chocolate syrup.

Ready for another bite? Try Apples, Grapes, or Kiwano Melon.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Daniel Brennan, MD on December 23, 2013