Waiting for a wound to heal can sometimes feel like watching paint dry. Then there’s the added risk of possible infection. If only there was a way to make those cuts and scrapes disappear more quickly. Well, what you eat has a lot to do with supporting skin health — and that includes skin repair. Exciting new research suggests pulp from bananas may offer promise in accelerating recovery!

Indian researchers mixed banana pulp extract into the chow of a group of rats, then monitored the rate of skin healing compared to subjects which were fed plain feed. Not only did the banana group heal 27% faster than the controls, they had 186% higher concentrations of healing proteins in their skin. Why might this be? Previous basic research found that banana pulp may help marshal growth factors in the bloodstream, thus supporting the task of skin repair. Whether banana extracts help heal human boo-boos remains to be seen, but there is no scarcity of other reasons to bite into a banana, as they contain compounds that may support fat burning, DNA repair and asthma relief.

Beyond bananas, that other tropical favorite — pineapples — are the only source of bromelain, an enzyme which may support wound healing. Beta-carotene sources like carrots, spinach and sweet potatoes — plus vitamin C sources such as red bell peppers, kiwis and citrus may help support skin repair by keeping bacteria at bay.  For small scrapes, fitness may accelerate wound healing by as much as 25%.

And of course, all of the above will help with weight maintenance — which also plays a role in wound healing, as excess pounds may double the risk of infection, one study found.

Published January 1, 2012