People who want to improve their health are often advised to eat more fruits and vegetables.
However, some people worry that high-sugar fruits like bananas can be fattening. Most fruits contain about 90% carbs, which means they’re higher in sugar. Still, fruits are essential to a balanced diet because they provide vital nutritional benefits.
This article explores whether bananas will make you gain or lose weight.
Nutrition facts of bananas
Bananas are high in many nutrients and provide many health benefits.
They contain lots of fiber, carbs, and some essential vitamins and minerals.
A medium banana contains:
- Potassium: 9% of the daily value
- Vitamin B6: 25% of the daily value
- Vitamin C: 11% of the daily value
- Magnesium: 8% of the daily value
- Copper: 10% of the daily value
- Manganese: 14% of the daily value
- Fiber: 3.07 grams
All this comes with about 105 calories, 90% of which are from carbs. Most of the carbs in ripe bananas are sugars — sucrose, glucose, and fructose.
On the other hand, bananas are low in both fat and protein.
Bananas contain several beneficial plant compounds and antioxidants, including dopamine and catechin.
Summary: Bananas contain carbs, fiber, essential nutrients, and antioxidants. A medium banana provides about 105 calories.
Bananas are high in fiber but low in calories
Calorie for calorie, bananas contain a lot of fiber.
One medium banana provides around 7% of your recommended daily intake, with just 105 calories.
Fiber is essential for maintaining regular bowel habits and vital to digestive health.
Eating large amounts of fiber has even been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, diverticular disease, and some cancers.
An adequate fiber intake is also linked to reduced body weight.
One study from 2009 measured the food intake of 252 women for 20 months. The researchers found that for every extra gram of fiber the women ate per day, their body weight was around 0.55 pounds (0.25 kg) lower.
Scientists believe this may occur because fiber makes you feel full longer, which may help you eat fewer calories in the long term.
Summary: Bananas are a good source of fiber. A high fiber intake has been linked to reduced body weight and several other health benefits.
The greener the banana, the higher the resistant starch
The type of carbs in a banana depends on how ripe it is.
Unripe green bananas are high in starch and resistant starch, while ripe yellow bananas contain mostly naturally occurring sugars.
Resistant starches are long chains of glucose (starch) resistant to digestion. They act like soluble fiber in the body and offer many potential health benefits, including weight loss and reduced blood sugar levels.
Resistant starch can also slow down the absorption of sugar from foods. This keeps your blood sugar levels stable and helps you feel full.
Additionally, resistant starch may increase fat burning.
Summary: Green unripe bananas contain resistant starch, linked to weight loss and reduced blood sugar levels.
Bananas have a low glycemic index, but it depends on ripeness
The glycemic index measures how much foods raise blood sugar levels. If a food scores lower than 55, it’s considered to have a low glycemic index. A score of 56–69 is medium, and 70 or above is high.
Foods that contain a lot of simple sugars are quickly absorbed and have a high glycemic index value since they cause a more significant rise in blood sugar levels.
Eating many high glycemic index foods have been linked to weight gain and an increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Foods with more slowly absorbed carbs have a lower glycemic index and stabilize your blood sugar levels. Since bananas are 90% carbs, they’re sometimes considered a high-sugar fruit that could spike your blood sugar.
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However, the glycemic index score of bananas is 42–62, depending on ripeness. This means they’re low to medium on the glycemic index.
Ripe bananas have a higher glycemic index than greener bananas. The sugar content increases as the banana matures, affecting your blood sugar levels.
In general, bananas seem to release their sugars slowly.
In one study of people with type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol, adding 9 ounces (250 grams) of banana to participants’ breakfast for 4 weeks significantly reduced their fasting blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Low glycemic index foods like bananas may also help you feel full and keep blood sugar levels stable. This may lead to weight loss over time.
Summary: Bananas have a low to medium glycemic index value. Their sugar content and blood sugar-raising effects increase as they ripen.
Bananas are healthy and nutritious. They’re high in fiber and low in calories.
Most bananas have a low to medium glycemic index and should not cause big spikes in blood sugar levels compared with other high-carb foods.
Although no studies directly examine the effects of bananas on weight, bananas have several properties that should make them a weight-loss-friendly food.
If you’re trying to lose weight, there is absolutely nothing wrong with eating bananas as a part of a balanced diet rich in whole foods.