04/23/2012 08:33 pm ET Updated Jun 23, 2012

Can Bananas Save Your Life?

A new study suggests that eating three bananas a day could cut your risk of having a stroke by 21 percent.

"This risk reduction would be translated into a reduction of as many as 1,155,000 stroke deaths per year on a worldwide scale," write the authors of this massive study, which followed over 250,000 individuals for over thirty years and was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The key factor in our peely yellow friends is potassium, which helps to lower blood pressure and provide other benefits to cardiovascular health. One of these benefits appears to be a reduction in the risk of blood clots forming in the brain, which causes strokes.

"Potassium intake may be increased by well-described dietary changes, mainly an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption," write the study's authors.

Other potassium powerhouses include prunes, raisins and spinach. But bananas are so easy to eat and they travel well. They're also infinitely adaptable. Exquisitely soft, sweet chocolate-covered sun-dried bananas are now being produced in Thailand. And -- your resource for all things Jainist -- offers a handy recipe for banana "burgers." This entails boiling plantains with peas, then mixing the results with sugar, lemon juice, salt, chili paste and chili powder, then dividing the mixture into patties, then deep-frying the patties and serving them on hamburger buns "with tomato sauce or coriander chutney." Take your pick.

Chick-fil-A brought back its seasonal Banana Pudding Milkshake this month for a limited time only. Bananas are indeed among its ingredients -- halfway down the list, as part of a "banana base" that also includes corn syrup, sugar and pectin. But the shake's 780 calories and 104 grams of sugar -- which equates to about 26 teaspoonsful -- might not cut your stroke risk all that much, all things considered.

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