If Gwen Stefani liked ’em enough to write a song, it’s pretty clear bananas ought to be a superfood. These all-natural “100-calorie snack packs” (one medium-sized, 7 to 8 inch banana clocks in at just 105 calories) are packed with vitamins and boast some other pretty killer health benefits, too.

The Deal on the Peel – Why They’re Super

Photo by Caitlin Covington

Bananas contain significant amounts of vitamins C and B6, are rich in carotenoids, and can increase vitamin A levels in those with deficienciesCarotenoid-rich bananas: a potential food source for alleviating vitamin A deficiency. Englberger, L., Darnton-Hill, I., Coyne, T., et al. Nutrition Program, Division of International Health, School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. Food and Nutrition Bulletin. 2003 Dec;24(4):303-18.. Not to mention they can be great for weight loss! The average banana contains 3 grams of fiber, which helps keep us full and fend off the munchies.

These yellow wonders could also be a morning-after help with pesky hangovers. The potassium in bananas helps to replace electrolytes lost from a night of heavy drinkingThe major electrolytes: sodium, potassium, and chloride. Terry, J. Journal of Intravenous Nursing: The Official Publication of the Intravenous Nurses Society, 1994 Sep-Oct;17(5):240-7.. Plus, they can help restore normal bowel function, helping with those post-drinking stomach problems.

Still not convinced? The high levels of potassium in bananas (around 420 mg, on average, or about 12 percent of the daily recommended dose for adults), is not only beneficial in upping potassium (of which most Americans don’t get enough), but can also aid in the proper function of all cells, tissues, and organs. Potassium may also play a role in lowering blood pressure and protecting against hypertensionPotassium in hypertension. Delgado, M.C. Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Michigan, 3918 Taubman Center, Ann Arbor, MI. Current Hypertension Reports, 2004 Feb;6(1):31-5..

Go Bananas! — Your Action Plan

Although too much potassium in the blood (known as hyperkalemia) can be toxic, it’s highly unlikely that someone could eat enough bananas to cause a problem. So keep eating (just try not to eat an entire case, cool?)! And don’t worry — despite the fact that bananas are, in fact, a natural source of radioactive isotopes, they’re not going to make any of us grow five heads.

There are plenty of ways to nosh on bananas throughout the day (without turning into a monkey). Breakfast is the perfect meal to fill a banana fix — the fiber will crush cravings for the rest of the day (or at least until lunch time!). In the morning, try a healthy orange banana smoothie for a cold treat or warm up with whipped banana oatmeal. A plain banana paired with a little peanut butter makes a great post-workout snack, and for cocktail hour, we’ve got it covered with this banana nut martini.

And don’t forget about bananas in a different form — dried bananas may have some health benefits as well. Some research suggests the dried form could help heal stomach ulcersIndigenous anti-ulcer activity of Musa sapientum on peptic ulcer. Prabha, P., Karpagam, T., Varalakshmi, B., et al. PG and Research Department of Biochemistry, PRIST University, Thanjavur. Pharmacognosy Research, 2001 Oct;3(4):232-8.The anti-ulcerogenic activity of the unripe plantain banana (Musa species). Best, R., Lewis, D.A., Nasser, N. British Journal of Pharmacology, 1984 May;82(1):107-16..

And for dessert? Whip up this ice cream made with just one ingredient — any guesses?