Bananas are popular and widely consumed fruits.
And that's for a good reason!
Bananas are nutritious, high in fiber, and full of antioxidants.
They make a portable, mess-free healthy snack that can easily fit in your purse to take anywhere.
However, many are concerned about bananas' high sugar, carb, and calorie content.
In this post, we'll take an in-depth look at bananas and the health benefits they offer. In the end, we hope to bring enough information for you to see if bananas are worth eating.
1. Banana’s Nutrient Density
Bananas are nutritious, with each medium-sized banana containing 105 calories, 22 percent of the daily value for vitamin B-6, 17 percent of the DV for vitamin C, and 12 percent of the DV for both potassium and fiber.
The following list shows the nutrition profile for a medium banana (1):
- Vitamin B6: 33% RDI.
- Manganese: 14% RDI.
- Vitamin C: 11% RDI.
- Copper: 10% RDI.
- Potassium: 9% RDI.
- Magnesium: 8% RDI.
- Fiber: 3.1 grams.
About 75% of the bananas is water. And 90 percent of the calories in bananas come from carbs.
Bananas also include plant antioxidant compounds called catechin and dopamine.
2. Fiber in Bananas
Like many other fruits, bananas contain a decent amount of fiber.
Since a diet rich in fiber has been linked to many health benefits including improving digestive health, preventing heart disease, diabetes, some forms of cancers, and even curbing appetite, banana’s fiber content has been praised by everyone from dietitians to your next door health nut.
Which is the very reason why it may be shocking for you to find the banana’s fiber content is actually not as high as it’s hyped to be.
Though bananas do have fiber, by no means, they are not the highest fiber-containing fruit. In fact, they are not a high fiber fruit.
According to SFGATE for a food to be considered high in one nutrient, it has to contain 20% or more of its daily recommended value (2).
For fiber, the recommended daily value is between 25 to 30 grams (3).
Since one medium banana contains 3.1 grams of fiber, its content ends up only accounting for 12% of the total daily recommended value. In short, it falls short of the high-fiber food standard by over 50%.
Let’s also take a look at the fiber in a banana from another angle.
Fiber is known for its benefit to lower the cholesterol. But to reap its benefits, you need 8 grams of fiber consumption, according to a 2002 study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (4).
That’s equivalent to almost 3 bananas.
Where bananas can help is to contribute to your overall fiber consumption. Since most Americans are deficient in fiber, eating a banana a day can greatly help increase your daily fiber intake.
The Takeaway: Banana’s fiber is decent but not high. Since in order for a food to be high in one nutrient, it must contain at least 20 percent of its daily recommended value. Bananas on average meet about up to 16 percent of your daily needs depending on the fruit size.
3. Banana’s Weight Loss Effect
Can eating bananas help you lose weight?
In general, adding more fruits to your diet is a good thing as most fruits are naturally high in nutrients and vitamins.
Most of the nutrients found in bananas are under the 20 percent mark which would not qualify them to be considered high in those nutrients. For its less than stellar nutrient profile, bananas come with a hefty calorie count, which makes it that much harder to create that calorie deficit needed for your weight loss.
But if satiety is of your concern, bananas offer fulfillment right after consumption and help keep you full for longer.
In any case, if you are trying to lose weight and would like to have a banana, have a small-sized banana.
Luckily, there are many other fruits that are more suitable for weight loss.
If you are up for those options, take a look at this calorie and carbs fruit chart here to find a healthier, more weight loss friendly alternative.
4. Bananas and Diabetes
Are bananas a safe fruit For diabetes?
It's very important for people with diabetes to keep their blood sugar level as stable as can be.
Stabilizing your blood sugar has been identified to help prevent the development of some medical complications related to diabetes.
To better manage your diabetes and prevent other complications, avoiding fruits and other foods known to spike blood sugar is critically important.
Can You Eat Bananas If You Have Diabetes?
Foods with a high content of sugar and carbs are amongst the list to be avoided. That’s because carbs and sugar are two of the main nutrients that raise blood sugar levels. Unfortunately, bananas are high in both.
In fact, over 90 percent of the calories in bananas are from carbs, and these carbs are in the form of sugar starch.
For easier assessment, the glycemic index offers a quick indicator on how likely a particular food will affect your blood sugar.
Bananas, depending on their ripeness, the glycemic index is between 42–62 on a scale of 0 to 100 (5).
It’s considered medium-high to high in risk.
On whether bananas have a place in diabetic diets, opinions are mixed.
If you are to have one, consume a moderate amount of bananas if you have diabetes. Also, be sure to avoid consuming a large amount of fully ripe bananas as they contain more starch and sugar.
Furthermore, it's highly recommended that diabetics closely monitor their blood sugar after each carb-loaded meal. It will not only help you understand your food choices and how they affect your conditions but also help better pick foods that aid you. Also, be sure to consult with your physician for your personal meal plan and a list of foods that are safe for you.
5. Banana’s Digestive Health Benefits
As previously noted, one medium banana contains 3 grams of dietary fiber, a nutrient that helps regulate the speed of digestion and keeps the digestive tract running smoothly.
Also, unripe bananas are rich in resistant starch and pectin, which are linked to better digestive health and lower risk of colon cancer.
If you're eating bananas to improve your digestive health, the greener the banana the better.
6. Banana’s Potential Risk
Can eating bananas affect your health negatively?
There's no current evidence suggesting that eating bananas can cause major adverse effects.
But again since bananas are high in starch, do not over consume them if you have diabetes, as they may cause your blood sugar to spike.
Also, those with latex allergy may also experience allergic reactions to bananas. According to studies, between 30–50% of latex allergy patients also have sensitivities to certain plant foods (6).
If that's you, be sure to check with your physician!
Bananas are just like any other fruits, except that they are higher in calories and carbs.
They contain fiber, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and several and antioxidants.
All of these nutrients have a number of health benefits that are good for keeping the digestive system and heart healthy.
The question is, is banana worth the calories? Well, that's for you to decide.
Again it all depends on your health, goal, and current state. For those with diabetes, you may need better alternatives. But if you're a completely healthy individual, there should be no harm in eating bananas.
Overall, bananas are healthy, tasty, and versatile. One tip, if you're going to eat, combine your banana with peanut butter or nut butter to help slow down the digestion.