Are bananas good for the brain?

June 15, 2023 | 07:24 pm PT
I eat at least two bananas a day, as I love them and heard that eating a lot of them could enhance my memory. (Van, Dong Nai).

How many bananas should I eat to benefit my brain? What should I keep in mind when consuming this fruit?


Bananas are easy to find and contain many essential nutrients. According to the 2007 Vietnamese Food Composition Table, 100 grams of Cavendish bananas contains:

97 kcal

1.5 grams of protein

0.2 grams of fat

22.2 grams of carbohydrates

0.8 grams of dietary fiber

74.4 grams of water

They are a great source of calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin C, and several types of vitamin B.

Bananas provide energy and are good for the brain. They improve concentration due to the many nutrients present in them, including potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C.

Among these, potassium helps our nerves to function as well as the heart and other muscles. A diet with low potassium may cause health problems, including high blood pressure. Meanwhile, magnesium consumption can cause improvements in mood, cognitive functions, and sleep quality.

Bananas also contain a high amount of tryptophan (an amino acid), which is transformed into serotonin in the body, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and makes you feel happy. Eating only one banana may not have notable effects on your mood because the serotonin in bananas cannot directly reach our brains and affect our mood. However, bananas may indirectly increase the amount of brain serotonin, due to the tryptophan present in them.

A banana, on average, can provide 33% of Daily Value (DV) of vitamin B6, which is also needed for humans to create and use serotonin correctly. Aside from bananas, there are many other foods which are rich in serotonin and vitamin B6, including salmon, cow’s liver, and chicken filet.

Eating a banana could also provide you with vitamins to boost your immune system, remove radicals, and protect your DNA from being damaged by oxidation.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, men aged 19 and over and women aged between 19 and 30 should eat two bananas a day. Meanwhile, women aged 30 and over should eat 1.5 bananas.

However, you should not eat too much as it may cause stomach ache. In addition, adding calories into our body may lead to gaining weight, difficulties in regulating blood sugar, and a lack of nutrients from other foods.

As bananas are rich in carbohydrates and have low amounts of protein and fat, a side meal consisting of only bananas may cause a nutrient imbalance. Hence, you should eat bananas in between meals or with other foods for nutrient diversity.

Dr. Nguyen Anh Duy Tung

Tam Anh General Hospital

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