Cravings for specific foods like bananas can have many causes. Bananas are nutritious fruits that are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Some potential reasons for banana cravings include:
A Need for Potassium
Bananas are well known for being high in potassium. One medium banana contains about 422 mg of potassium or 12% of the recommended daily intake. Potassium is an important mineral that aids nerve transmission, muscle contraction and heart function. Low levels of potassium, or hypokalemia, can cause muscle cramps and weakness. If your body is low in potassium, craving bananas may be a sign you need more of this nutrient.
Bananas are a good source of magnesium, providing about 32 mg per medium fruit. Magnesium plays numerous roles in the body, including energy production, nerve and muscle function, blood sugar control and more. Low magnesium levels are common and linked to muscle cramps, anxiety, trouble sleeping and headaches. Banana cravings may indicate your body needs more magnesium.
Need for Carbs
Bananas are a very good source of carbs, providing about 27 grams per medium fruit. The carbs in bananas are mostly in the form of starch and sugars. For some people, craving bananas may simply mean their body needs an infusion of carbs for energy. Athletes, in particular, require adequate carb intake.
Bananas contain high levels of tryptophan, an amino acid. Tryptophan is used by the body to produce serotonin, a brain chemical that regulates mood. Low serotonin levels are associated with depression and anxiety. This may explain why some people reach for bananas when they feel stressed or down.
Pica is an eating disorder characterized by cravings for non-food items that have no nutritional value. In some cases, pica can also involve cravings for nutritious foods like bananas. Pica cravings are thought to be related to iron, zinc or other nutrient deficiencies. Banana cravings may indicate pica in need of medical treatment.
Pregnancy is another time when banana cravings are common. Bananas contain many nutrients needed during pregnancy, including vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, copper and manganese. Banana cravings may simply reflect the increased nutritional needs of pregnancy. However, some think these cravings are related to the texture and serotonin-boosting impact of bananas.
Some women experience strong food cravings during the days leading up to their menstrual period. These cravings are thought to be hormonally driven, but may also reflect nutritional needs. Bananas are rich in potassium, magnesium and vitamin B6, nutrients that tend to be low during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle.
Bananas provide a quick burst of energy and sustenance due to their carbohydrate and nutrient content. If you’re feeling tired and sluggish, craving bananas may signal that your body needs a fast energy boost.
In the end, banana cravings usually reflect the body’s nutritional needs in some way. Pay attention to cravings for this nutritious fruit and consider whether you may need more potassium, magnesium or other nutrients that bananas provide.