We are very fortunate to have recently taken Poppy Burr onto the staff. Poppy is a fully trained medical herbalist with a practice in Sheffield She'll be working part-time in the shop and has kindly agreed to write some articles for our website looking at the medicinal use of herbs and other foods. Today it's bananas! She writes:
Potassium salts have been found to improve bone health and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, in a recent study that promises to give us yet another good reason to eat our greens, reds, oranges and yellows.
Women who have gone through the menopause are at an increased risk of getting osteoporosis due to hormonal changes that lead to calcium deficiency and weakened or brittle bones.
In the study, potassium salts reduced the amount of calcium and acid excreted in urine – this means instead of accumulating in the body, excess acid was neutralised by the alkaline potassium salts. A decrease in bone breakdown markers was also seen, showing that they may help preserve bone structure.
Potassium is found in many fruits and vegetables including potatoes, tomatoes, apricots, broccoli, asparagus and, of course, bananas.
However, the research was done with supplements - not fresh fruit and vegetables - and the authors say you'd have to eat much more than the current '5 a day' recommendations to see any effect.
The well-known '5 a day' slogan is arguably the most successful public health message ever promulgated - but it is not without its critics. Some say it is outdated, based on a 25 year-old study by the World Health Organisation and “set judgmentally rather than on the basis of specific evidence”.
Research by the University College London last year showed that eating 7-10 portions a day reduces your risk of dying from any cause - called 'all-cause mortality' - by a whopping 42%, suggesting we should in fact be eating more.
Another 2014 study showed that each portion of F&V consumed reduces your risk of all-cause mortality by 5%, but that no added benefits were seen for more than 5 portions a day. This was also true for cardiovascular disorder but no association was seen for cancer.
As far as osteoporosis is concerned, a study needs to be done testing dietary amounts of fruit and vegetables. We know that risk of osteoporosis is laid down in childhood and adolescence - would we see a greater effect of potassium salts if they were consumed from the ages of, say, 8-18? Maybe if we started early, '5 a day' would be enough.
If you can manage five a day, that’s great. The slogan ’7 - 10 a day’ is far less catchy and may be unachievable for some but, if you’re a young girl and your mother has osteoporosis, perhaps fitting in an extra smoothie will make a difference in years to come. We don’t know yet. If you’re looking for ways to increase your fruit and veg intake, the recipes on this website are a good place to start! But the most important message is: eat a balanced diet, drink water, do exercise, and be happy.
Not too much to ask, surely!
If you'd like to follow Poppy's advice and increase your banana intake then here are a few recipes to help:blog comments powered by Disqus