Untold Health Risks Of Eating Bananas

Truck carrying bananas, Dominican Republic

Feb 7, 2020

Food Revolution Network – While bananas have a lot of potential benefits to offer, there are also a few downsides to be aware of.

Health:

A few people report experiencing headaches after eating a lot of bananas.

This may be related to a compound called tyramine, derived from the amino acid tyrosine.

Anecdotally, the link between eating bananas and experiencing headaches seems to be more common among people who are prone to headaches and migraines in general.

Extreme overconsumption of this fruit could increase your risk for hyperkalemia — or excessive blood potassium levels.

One case study observed an individual with hyperkalemia as a result of eating 20 bananas per day.

Also, because of their high sugar content, bananas can contribute to tooth decay. So make sure you practice good dental hygiene after eating one.

The bottom line: As with all things, listen to your own body. One or two bananas daily is fine for your potassium levels. And if bananas give you headaches, you might want to cut down or eliminate them from your diet.

Environmental Impact:

Like much of modern agriculture, a majority of the world’s banana harvest comes from large-scale monoculture farming operations.

Growing a single crop over a long period depletes the soil.

And monocropped soil tends to suffer more agricultural contamination, as the same fertilizers and chemicals are added to it, year after year, leading to accumulation of heavy metals, nitrates, and salts, which may even lower the soil’s ability to help plants fight off pests or withstand blight.

Bananas are often sprayed with large amounts of pesticides. In fact, some banana farms receive nearly 60 pesticide applications every year.

This is not only a concern for consumers but also the surrounding environment and ecosystems that are negatively impacted.

Between 1968 and 2017, world banana production grew from 28.8 million to 113 million tons.

As consumers buy more bananas, there’s a danger that rainforests and other sensitive ecosystems may be destroyed in order to create more land on which to grow them.

India and China both doubled their land use for banana harvesting between 2000 and 2015.

The bottom line: Get organic bananas whenever possible because organic banana farming avoids the use of synthetic pesticides and tends to be more sustainable.

Social Impact:

There are also some social and economic considerations to make when consuming bananas:

Workers in the banana industry are chronically underpaid, raising an important ethical issue for consumers.

Child labor — defined by working conditions that are likely to negatively affect a child’s physical and mental health, social conditions, and education — is widespread in the banana industry.

Children who work in the banana industry, often as young as eight years old, are frequently exposed to pesticides, paid minimally, and robbed of the opportunity to gain the education they need to pull their families out of intergenerational poverty.

The bottom line: Get fairtrade bananas whenever you can. Bananas carrying this mark are produced in ways and locations that meet social, environmental, and economic standards that support workers’ rights and contribute to a healthy, ethical, and sustainable world. Read more. | Subscribe to Food Revolution on YouTube. 

OUR TAKE: Concern for the environmental and social consequences of the production of bananas – or any other food – is not just about your political and social values, it’s quite literally about the food choices that will be available to future generations, including your own children and grandchildren. Many people put great thought and effort into the financial resources they will leave to their children or will gift to good causes. Perhaps future food resources deserve a similar level of attention. To take it a step further, we believe there is compelling evidence that the current coronavirus epidemic is a direct result of the harvest and consumption of wildlife as a human protein source in China. Yes, food choices have far-reaching impacts that can cross continents and generations. – Headline Health 

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