Banana Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Bananas annotated

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

If you've heard that bananas are high in carbohydrates, you may be wondering 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. Here are some of the details on this popular fruit.

Banana Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one medium banana (118 g).

  • Calories: 105
  • Fat: 0.4g
  • Sodium: 1.2mg
  • Carbohydrates: 27g
  • Fiber: 3.1g
  • Sugars: 14.4g
  • Protein: 1.3g

Carbs

Bananas are primarily made up of carbohydrates with 27 grams per medium banana (defined as 7" to 7 7/8" long). This includes 3 grams of fiber and just over 14 grams of naturally occurring sugar. People with diabetes should count bananas as 2 carb counts or 2 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.

Fats

Bananas are low in fat, with less than 1/2 gram per medium-sized banana.

Protein

Bananas are pretty low in protein as well, with under 1.5 grams per medium banana.

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.

Health Benefits

Bananas are a popular fruit with lots of benefits to offer. 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 to be 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 helpful effects for long-term management of the disease.

Promotes Regularity

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, however, 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 weight loss of 4.4 lbs over 4 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 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 in place 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 are 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, when eaten, bananas certainly offer wound-healing nutrients, like vitamin C and other antioxidants. One medium banana provides about 11% of your daily needs. Vitamin C is a precursor to collagen, an essential component of skin integrity.

Allergies

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 may also be linked to natural rubber latex allergies. Observation studies show that 20% to 50% of patients with latex allergies have a reaction 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.

Adverse Effects

While bananas are generally beneficial for digestive health, some people experience constipation when increasing their intake of fiber 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.

Varieties

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 banana, 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 has no effect on the quality of the banana underneath.

You can also peel ripe bananas, mash or slice them, and store 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 get a 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. Find banana peels used in vegan and Japanese recipes. Just be aware, they can be tough to digest if you aren't used to eating them.

Recipes

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Article Sources
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