I’ve known some people who avoid bananas at all costs because they heard they contribute to belly fat. Heck, I’ve even seen a number of ads across the web talking about the “one health food you should NEVER eat if you want to lose weight.” (That one food being bananas.) Then there are others who say bananas are the perfect weight loss food as long as you don’t overdo it. But this fruit can’t be both of these things, can it?
Avoiding a healthy, whole food like potassium-packed bananas seems a bit extreme, unless you have an allergy or other ailment which prevents you from eating them.
But at the same time, it’s understandable. High-sugar anything is the archenemy of the weight loss and health world. Bananas are normally seen as “high-sugar” fruits that ought to be avoided, just in case. With all this misinformation floating around, it would be easy to make the mistake of omitting this wonderful food from your menu.
So, let’s get down to business and find out the clear-cut answer to this very valid question.
Banana Nutrition Facts
This vibrant fruit is brimming with nutrients and health benefits! But are they worth it if bananas are indeed fattening?
Well, they do contain a ton of fiber and a multitude of essential vitamins and minerals… But they also contain high amounts of carbohydrates, which I’m sure has some alarms going off in your head. High-carbs = weight gain, right? The thing is, there are good carbs, and bad carbs. Just like there are good fats and bad fats. It all depends on the source it’s coming from. A carb-infused doughnut is far more fattening than a carb-loaded banana will ever be.
Bananas are known for being a go-to source for potassium (12% of the recommended daily intake), but what about some other nutrients? (This is for one medium ripe banana, by the way.)
🍌Vitamin B6: 20%
🍌Vitamin C: 17%
🍌Fiber: 3.1 g
🍌Calories: 105 (90% carbs)
*Nutrition data obtained from www.nutritiondata.self.com
The carbohydrates in bananas are comprised of three kinds of sugars: sucrose, glucose, and fructose.
When it comes to fat, bananas are extremely low in that department.
One nutrition fact that surprised me is the fact that bananas contain dopamine. (You know, that feel-good chemical that’s released by neurons.)
Fiber = High. Calories = Low
As previously established, bananas provide 3.1 grams of fiber and they are just over 100 calories.
If you want to have regular bowel habits and rev up your digestive health, then eating bananas or other high-fiber foods is the way to do it.
And believe it or not, ample fiber intake has been linked to weight loss. Why is that? Fiber-rich foods tend to make you feel satiated for longer periods of time, which could result in your eating less calories throughout the day.
Green Banana = High Resistant Starch
Most people like their bananas ripe (but not too ripe because then they’d probably only be good for banana muffins or in a smoothie at that point). The type of carbs you’ll ingest is dependent upon the ripeness of the banana.
Green bananas (unripe) are high in both starch AND resistant starch. Yellow bananas (ripe) contain those three sugars I mentioned earlier (so just starch).
I never even heard of the term “resistant starches” before writing this article, so what are they exactly? Basically, they are long chains of starch (glucose, to be more specific) that are resistant to digestion. In fact, resistant starches mimic soluble fiber in that respect, which points to several health benefits. Despite the negative-sounding name, the greener the bananas, the greater effect they’ll have on weight loss (including fat-burning) and even decreasing blood sugar levels.
Speaking of sugar, these type of starches are known for drastically slowing down sugar absorption, which ensures your blood sugar levels will remain stable.
In no way am I saying you should start eating only green bananas. I’ve come to find (both personally and in my research), that if I eat under-ripe bananas frequently, they upset my stomach. (FYI, this is coming from someone with a sensitive stomach.)
Low Glycemic Index (Depending on Ripeness)
As many of you may have heard, GI or the glycemic index is a measurement of how much certain foods raise overall blood sugar levels. Under 55? You’re in the safe zone, meaning it’s a low GI. 56-69 is considered a medium GI. And anything above 70 is in the GI danger zone.
High GI correlates to substantial rise in blood sugar. But why is that? Put simply, high-GI foods are comprised of simple sugars. Those are absorbed a whole lot faster.
Unfortunately, eating such foods frequently directly relates to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and more.
Remember when I mentioned bananas are 90% carbs? This is why, more often than not, a vast majority of people consider this high-sugar fruit a contributor to spiking blood sugar.
Fortunately for you, the GI of good old bananas is between 42 and 62. So they have a low to medium GI.
However, there’s a distinction. The riper the banana, the higher its GI. Once the banana starts forming lots of brown splotches, the GI is probably nearing or exceeding the red zone (70).
Generally speaking, bananas tend to release sugars at a slow rate.
Bananas Are Super Filling
When you’re snacking with a goal of weight loss or healthy weight maintenance, opt for high-fiber, low-calories foods like (you guessed it) bananas!
Stocking up on this kind of food staves off frequent hunger and bouts of overeating.
Remember, high-calorie doesn’t always mean the most filling.
As awesome as bananas are, apples and citrus fruits actually have them beat. 😛
So Do Bananas Make You Fat or Not?
The healthy, nutritious, vitamin-filled, high-fiber banana does in fact… NOT make you fat! The consensus is that they are a part of a balanced diet.
It’s about time to throw any myths you may have heard out the window and go bananas over this yellow wonder in the whole foods world. (Maybe not quite as bananas as the man on the right.)
Before we part ways, it’s important to note that there haven’t actually been any studies that have looked into this directly, but the properties that have been found are linked to weight loss and maintenance.
Are you an aficionado/aficionada of bananas?
How do you like to eat them? I love to incorporate them into smoothies!
1. Dietary Fiber and Body Weight
2. Resistant Starch – A Review
3. Nutritional Role of Resistant Starch: Chemical Structure vs. Physiological Function
4. Glycemic Index of Foods: A Physiological Basis for Carbohydrate Exchange
5. Starchy Foods and Glycemic Index