Bananas & Heart Palpitations
Heart palpitations have a variety of causes, including nutritional deficiencies, stress, heart disease, high blood pressure and allergic reactions, among others 1. Bananas are a good source of potassium, a primary electrolyte in your body essential for normal heart contraction and rhythm. Allergic reactions to bananas are not very common, but can lead to symptoms that include heart palpitations 1. Consult with your doctor if you sense your heartbeat is irregular.
Palpitations are sensations that feel like your heart is pounding, racing, fluttering or skipping beats 1. You feel strong heart palpitations in your chest, throat or neck 1. Normal resting heart rates vary between 60 to 100 beats per minute, so you may experience the sensation of palpitations if your heart rate is higher than 100 1. Occasional palpitations are usually not serious and may be a short-term reaction to stress, caffeine or even cold water. Heart palpitations combined with an abnormal heart rhythm, hypertension, chest pain or pain in your left arm are more serious and may be an indication of heart disease 1.
Potassium is an essential mineral required from dietary sources. It is a primary electrolyte in your body, which means it conducts electricity when dissolved in body fluids. Electrical conduction is essential for the communication between your brain and various muscles via the nerves. Your heart is made of smooth muscle and relies on potassium and other minerals for healthy contraction and function. A low potassium level, known as hypokalemia, can lead to heart palpitations and disrupted heart rhythm 1. Potassium and sodium work together in your body to establish electrical gradients between the outside and inside of cells.
Nutrients in Bananas
Bananas are considered a good source of potassium, but comparatively, they are higher in vitamin B-6, vitamin C and manganese, according to “The Nutribase Complete Book of Food Counts.” For example, an average-sized banana contains about 420 milligrams of potassium, or 12 percent of your daily requirement, but it contains over 20 percent of your daily requirement for vitamin B-6 2. Other foods considered better sources of potassium include a baked potato with the skin, a handful of raisins or a spinach salad.
Bananas contain an enzyme called chitinase, which is made of protein and can trigger an allergic reaction in some sensitive people. Allergic reactions typically involve swelling of the throat and mouth, hives and difficulty breathing, but heart palpitations sometimes occur, too 1. Bananas also contain vaso-active amines such as serotonin, which can trigger inflammation much as histamine does. An over-reaction to vaso-active amines typically involves flushing of the skin, headache and heart palpitations 1. If you are allergic to avocados, kiwis or chestnuts, there is a good chance you are also allergic to bananas.
- MedlinePlus; Heart Palpitations
- The Nutribase Complete Book of Food Counts; Art Ulene
- Mayo Clinic, "Heart arrhythmia - Symptoms and causes"
- Crawford MH, Bernstein SJ, Deedwania PC, et al. ACC/AHA Guidelines for Ambulatory Electrocardiography: Executive Summary and Recommendations. A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines (Committee to Revise the Guidelines for Ambulatory Electrocardiography). Circulation 1999; 100:886. DOI: 10.1016/s0735-1097(99)00354-x
- Zimetbaum, P, Josephson, ME. Evaluation of Patients with Palpitations. N Engl J Med 1998; 338:1369. DOI: 10.1056/NEJM199805073381907
- Mayou R, Sprigings D, Birkhead J, Price J. Characteristics of Patients Presenting to a Cardiac Clinic with Palpitation. QJM 2003; 96:115. DOI:10.1093/qjmed/hcg017
- Trappe HJ. Concept of the five 'A's for treating emergency arrhythmias. J Emerg Trauma Shock. 2010;3(2):129–136. doi: 10.4103/0974-2700.62111
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