Going bananas may help kids breathe easier. Children who ate just one banana a day had a 34% less chance of developing asthmatic symptoms, according to new British research.

The Imperial College of London collected dietary information from 2,640 children, ages 5 to 10, and found that banana-eaters were one-third less likely to encounter breathing problems like wheezing. Children who drank apple juice daily experienced a 47% reduction. Other research suggests that children with low fiber intake are more vulnerable to the respiratory problems associated with secondhand smoke. Thepineapple enzyme, bromelain, also appeared to reduce the inflammation associated with asthma in one animal trial.

These results offer yet more proof of the potential of food to affect asthma symptoms for better…or for worse. As previously reported in this space, kids who eat even one burger a week are more likely to suffer from asthma.

Banana Bonus: Early banana consumption may also be associated with lower risk of childhood leukemia. Bananas’ fiber, potassium, vitamin C and B6 content support heart health. Bananas also contain tryptophan, an amino acid which may play a role in preserving your memory and boosting your mood. To get the health benefits of bananas try this issue’s featured recipe.

Published July 1, 2007