If you've heard that bananas are high in carbohydrates, you may wonder whether they're a healthy fruit to eat. Bananas are made up of mostly complex carbohydrates, including resistant starch, which offers digestive health benefits. The vitamins and potassium in bananas are good for your blood pressure and overall health.
Banana Nutrition Facts
One medium-sized banana (118g) provides 105 calories, 27g of carbohydrates, 14.4g of sugars, and 1.3g of protein. Bananas are an excellent source of potassium, and one serving contains 422mg of potassium. The USDA provides the following nutrition information.
- Potassium: 422mg
- Vitamin C: 10.3mg
- Magnesium: 31.9mg
There are 27g of carbohydrates per medium banana (defined as 7" to 7 7/8" long). These carbohydrates include 3g of fiber and just over 14 grams of naturally occurring sugar. People with diabetes should count bananas as two carb counts or two carb choices.
As bananas ripen, some of the resistant starch (fiber) converts to sugar, meaning that a yellow banana with brown spots has more sugar and less fiber than a green banana of the same size. The glycemic index for bananas ranges from 48–54.
Bananas are low in fat, with less than 0.5 grams per medium-sized banana. Because there are small amounts of fat-soluble vitamins A and K in bananas, consuming them with fat can help unlock that nutritional benefit. A two-tablespoon serving of peanut butter contains about 10 grams of monounsaturated fat, 3.3 grams of polyunsaturated fat, and just 2.8 grams of saturated fat, and is a popular pairing with banana.
Bananas are pretty low in protein as well, with under 1.5 grams per medium banana. Again, peanut butter is a popular and plant-protein-packed addition to bananas, with 8g per two tablespoons.
Vitamins and Minerals
Bananas are known for their potassium content, with one medium-sized banana offering 422mg potassium, or about 9% of the daily value set by the USDA. Along with potassium, bananas contain some vitamin C, folate, magnesium, and choline.
One medium-sized banana (118g) contains 105 calories. How does that compare to other common fruits? A medium-sized gala apple has about 61 calories, a naval orange has 72.8 calories, and one cup of red, seedless grapes (150g) contains 129 calories.
Bananas are a great potassium-loaded food which also contains carbohydrates, vitamin C, and magnesium.
Bananas are a popular fruit with many benefits beyond that post-run hit of potassium. Here are some ways bananas may improve your health.
Improves Diabetes Management
Green bananas are high in resistant starch, which acts like fiber during digestion. Due to their health benefits, green bananas are often ground into a pulp or flour and used in functional food products and scientific studies.
A review of several studies found green banana flour effective in improving insulin sensitivity, promoting weight loss, and reducing some of the liver and kidney issues associated with diabetes—all beneficial for long-term disease management.
Bananas are a good source of prebiotics, the fermentable fibers that help feed "good bacteria," or probiotics, in the gut. Prebiotics aid digestion by promoting the growth of bacteria that help digest food. Pairing bananas with foods that contain live cultures (such as yogurt) is a great way to support gut health, digestion, and regularity.
Furthermore, studies evaluating the effects of green bananas show benefits for both constipation and diarrhea treatment in children. Eating bananas is a simple way to get the digestive system on the right track.
Aids Weight Loss
The banana has a bad reputation for its high starch content, but it is a low-calorie food with plenty of filling fiber to support weight loss goals. With about 3 grams of fiber for every 100 calories, bananas are a great way to feel satisfied without overeating.
Studies show an association between increased fiber intake, calorie reduction, and weight loss. A pooled analysis estimates adding 14 grams of fiber to the diet (or reducing calories by 10%) per day can lead to a weight loss of 4.4 pounds over four months. Bananas as a snack or breakfast choice can help you attain and maintain a healthy weight.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Bananas are a good source of potassium, with a medium banana covering about 9% of the daily value for most adults. The blood pressure-lowering ability of potassium is well established, especially when it is paired with the DASH diet or a low-sodium eating plan.
Eating bananas regularly contributes toward daily potassium requirements to keep blood pressure down and prevent further complications, like strokes and kidney disease. Do your whole body a favor by choosing a banana instead of a salty snack.
May Assist Wound Healing
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in banana peels have made them popular in folk medicine for wound treatment. The inside of banana peels is placed on mosquito bites or minor wounds to provide some relief and protection for healing.
Although this effect may not be fully supported by modern medicine, bananas certainly offer wound-healing nutrients, like vitamin C and other antioxidants when eaten. One medium banana provides about 11% of your daily needs. Vitamin C is a precursor to collagen, an essential component of skin integrity.
Food allergies to bananas are possible, although uncommon. Some people experience a condition called oral allergy syndrome (OAS), where pollen allergens cross-react with fruits, like bananas. Banana allergies are also linked to natural rubber latex allergies. Observation studies show that 20% to 50% of patients with latex allergies react to bananas.
Allergy symptoms may include hives, vomiting, dizziness, tightness of breath, or even anaphylaxis. Although not well-studied, instances of acute pancreatitis have even been reported as the result of a food allergy to bananas. If you suspect an allergy to bananas, see an allergist for a full evaluation.
While bananas are generally beneficial for digestive health, some people experience constipation when increasing their fiber intake from foods like bananas. If you aren't used to eating a lot of fiber, increase your intake gradually and drink plenty of water to help your body adjust to higher fiber intake.
There are more than 1,000 varieties of bananas grown worldwide. Musa Cavendish is by far the most popular, dominating 45% of the global banana market.
Plantains are also considered a variety of bananas, with over 100 types within this subcategory alone. You may find bananas of various shapes and sizes in your local market or ethnic grocery stores. Experiment with different varieties to expand your enjoyment of this classic fruit.
When It's Best
Buy bananas that are still green to give yourself enough time to let them ripen just how you like them. Bananas can be found all year-round, fresh in the supermarket.
Storage and Food Safety
Bananas go from green to yellow to brown as they ripen. If you buy green bananas, you can let them ripen uncovered at room temperature. To speed up the ripening process, place green bananas in a paper bag or place them near other ripe fruits. Don't store bananas in plastic bags, as this will trap humidity, causing them to rot.
Once bananas reach your desired degree of yellow hue, just peel and eat. If you can't get to them right away, store ripe bananas in the refrigerator to buy yourself an extra week. The peel may turn dark brown or black in the refrigerator, but this does not affect the quality of the banana underneath.
You can also peel ripe bananas, mash or slice them, and store them in the freezer in airtight bags. This works well for use in baking or smoothies later on. There's no need to wash bananas or blanch them before freezing. Just wash your hands before handling them.
How to Prepare
There are many different ways to enjoy bananas. Add sliced banana to your plain oatmeal or yogurt to geta healthy dose of sweetness. You can also spread mashed banana (instead of jam) over peanut butter on a piece of whole wheat bread.
Frozen bananas are a yummy substitute for ice cream. Drizzle a frozen mashed banana with a small amount of dark chocolate, add a few crushed almonds, and you'll have a delicious, low-calorie sundae.
Most of us are accustomed to eating only the fruit of the banana and tossing the peel in the garbage. However, banana peels are edible. You may see them used in vegan and Japanese recipes. Just be aware that they can be tough to digest if you aren't used to eating them.
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