Few fruits seem to divide opinion quite like the banana. This is the same foodstuff that caused a social media meltdown with the revelation that it’s actually a berry, after all. We’re all familiar with the need to include fresh fruit as part of a healthy, balanced diet but if you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis, how can you be sure you’re choosing the best fruit for you? A quick peek online reveals an overwhelming sense of confusion. For every fruit packed with vitamins and minerals, the internet is equally packed with questions: Are bananas bad for arthritis? Is fruit good for arthritis? Are you absolutely sure a banana is a berry? We’re here to help separate fact from fiction, provide you with a clear guide to arthritis and dietary needs, and find out once and for all if your favourite yellow fruit fits the bill.
What’s the link between diet and arthritis?
If you’ve been diagnosed with a form of arthritis, it’s likely you’ve been told that one of the most important steps you can take is to follow a healthy diet. That’s why you’re searching for facts on bananas and inflammation after all, right?
But why is diet important for arthritis?
The foods we eat have an impact on our overall health, and the health of our joints. A change in diet can’t cure arthritis but choosing the best food for arthritis can help improve everyday symptoms and protect against additional health issues.
Maintaining a healthy weight can help decrease inflammatory levels and ease the pressure on your joints (in turn reducing your pain), while a diet rich in vitamins and minerals helps to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.
So far, so sensible. But what does this mean for the food choices you need to make? Most of us know we need to be mindful of our sugar, salt and fat intake but if you have arthritis, do you also need to know which foods make arthritis worse, or need to understand the best and worst foods for inflammation?
What is the best diet for arthritis and inflammation?
To help maintain a healthy weight and make sure you get all the nutrients you need, medical experts recommend incorporating a variety of foods from the five main food groups (fruit and vegetables, starchy foods, protein, dairy and fat) into your daily arthritis diet.
Rich in fruit, vegetables, pulses and olive oil, the Mediterranean diet is a great example of a well-balanced choice.
Reducing foods that are high in sugar, salt and saturated fats, and increasing your intake of fruit and vegetables, oily fish and fibre, can help keep your blood cholesterol low, reduce the risk of inflammation, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, and make it easier for you to maintain a healthy weight. Phew!
With bananas in mind and fruit so far ticking all the boxes, the next question is…
Why exactly are fruits good for arthritis?
The good news for today’s topic is that fruit and vegetables are a colourful mainstay of dietary recommendations. The reason? They’re packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidant properties – fantastic for anti-inflammatory needs – and evidence suggests that by consuming our 5-A-Day we can lower our risk of stroke and heart disease.
‘But don’t some fruits have a high sugar content?’ we hear you cry. Surely that’s at odds with a healthy diet?
Which naturally begs the question, why then aren’t fruits bad for arthritis?
It’s true that some fruits do contain more sugar than others. The banana is a prime example of this. In fact, added to its high carb and calorie content, the sugar load in bananas is likely the culprit that led you to ask, ‘are bananas bad for arthritis?’, in the first place.
However, the natural sugars found in fruit differ to the ‘free sugars’ found in things like chocolate, biscuits and fizzy drinks – the type of sugar that we need to reduce (although it’s important to remember that naturally occurring sugars do still count towards your daily total sugar intake).
What are the best fruits for arthritis?
Cherries, strawberries and raspberries have long ruled the limelight for their highly-touted antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
When it comes to bananas and inflammation however, the benefits are perhaps a little less well-known. If you prefer your portion of fruit a brighter shade of yellow and a bit more curved, you might be unsure where that leaves you.
In fact, it wouldn’t be unrealistic to wonder at this point, are bananas bad for arthritis after all?
So let’s find out.
Are bananas good or bad for arthritis?
Not only are bananas a firm favourite the world over, but in terms of nutritional value you’ll be pleased to know they really are nature’s very own powerhouse. Boasting bucket-loads of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, bananas bring an impressive array of health benefits to the table:
1) Heart health and blood pressure
Bananas are probably most well-known for being rich in potassium, a mineral essential for keeping your heart, kidneys, nerve and muscle functions running smoothly. High potassium combined with a low sodium content also makes them a great choice to help protect against high blood pressure.
2) Digestion, exercise and weight control
Thanks to vitamin B6 and their high carb and fibre content, bananas are incredibly filling and easy to digest and can play a role in helping protect against Type 2 diabetes. As for being the tennis pros’ snack of choice? Bananas also provide a great boost for energy and electrolyte levels. Good news if exercise is part of your treatment plan.
3) Bone health and inflammation
Vitamin C boasts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, while potassium and magnesium help to promote joint and bone health and protect against conditions such as osteoporosis.
4) Mood and sleep matters
Bananas contain tryptophan, an amino acid that our bodies are unable to produce naturally. Once absorbed in the body, tryptophan is converted into serotonin, the hormone responsible for stabilising our moods and aiding sleep patterns.
So… in a smoothie, as a quick snack, or in front of a crowd on centre court; wherever and however they’re eaten, the banana’s combination of vitamins, minerals and nutrients helps to support everything from heart function and digestion to your current mood. The health benefits of bananas for arthritis are many, and they reinforce the fruit’s position as an excellent choice for your 5-A-Day!
As with all dietary elements, moderation is key, and we always recommend speaking to your medical team before making any changes to your diet.
Thanks to their high nutritional value, bananas are a fantastic option as part of a healthy, balanced diet for arthritis.
It’s not always easy to get to the bottom of dietary needs, but hopefully we’ve helped clear some of the confusion.
Perhaps the most pressing question now is, should we blend, slice or mash? If you have any tips or thoughts you’d like to share, or you’re still reeling from the revelation of the most unlikely-looking berry imaginable, please let us know with a comment below.