The banana is known for its versatility and high nutritional value. However, despite being a healthy fruit, bananas are often considered unhealthy due to their high sugar content.
Opinions on the consumption of bananas by people with diabetes also seem to be divided. While some think it’s not suitable for people with diabetes due to its high sugar levels, others swear by its positive effect on blood sugar.
We will try to untangle this mystery and answer the big question: can a diabetic person have a banana?
Everything you need to know about bananas
The scientific name for banana is Musa, and it belongs to the Musaceae family. Musaceae are a family of flowering plants exclusively grown in the tropics and feature distinctly clustered bananas at the top of the plant.
After Uganda, India is the largest producer of bananas. The American Medical Association called them superfoods in the early 20th century.
According Datanutritionists use bananas as a complementary medicine to treat various pathologies such as celiac disease and diarrhea.
Types of Bananas and Nutritional Values
This fruit accounts for about 50% of banana production. It is the classic type of banana that is slightly sweet when ripe. Bananas are usually light yellow without any brown spots.
The maturing process will make the skin thinner. Brown spots appear in the skin and gradually enlarge until they cover the entire skin. Cavendish is rich in vitamin B6, which helps balance sugar levels in the body. It also protects our nervous system from the possibility of stroke.
Plantain is a larger, less sweet version of banana that is more starchy and used for cooking. It is usually green in color. Starchy plantains contain magnesium, potassium and vitamins A and K and are suitable for a healthy body. They also contain vitamin C and B, including thiamin and riboflavin.
This variety is shorter and fleshier with a red-violet hue. Ripe red bananas are creamier and often sweeter than Cavendish bananas. It has great nutritional value and is rich in vitamins B6 and C and magnesium.
These are thinner and shorter varieties of bananas, therefore called ladyfingers. They are higher in potassium and dietary fiber and higher in vitamins C and B5.
It is one of the main types of bananas mainly available in Kerala, India. It helps lower cholesterol and lowers blood pressure and increases metabolism. The Nendran banana has a low glycemic index.
Nutritional values of Bananas
According USDA100 grams of banana contain,
- Water: 74.9g
- Energy: 89 Kcal
- Protein: 1.09g
- Total fat: 0.33g
- Carbohydrates: 22.8g
- Fibre: 2.6g
- Starch: 5.38g
- Calcium: 5mg
- Iron 0.26mg
- Magnesium 27mg
- Phosphorus 22 mg
- Potassium 358mg
A medium banana provides approximately 1.2 grams of protein, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 0 grams of fat, 14 grams of sugar, and 420 mg of potassium.
Bananas and their effects on diabetes and blood sugar
If you have diabetes, being aware of the amount and type of carbohydrates in your diet is essential. Compared to other nutrients, carbohydrates raise your blood sugar level more. Therefore, it significantly affects your blood sugar management. When your blood sugar rises without diabetes, your body begins to produce insulin.
Insulin is a released hormone that helps cells absorb glucose from the blood, which is then used by our body. Unfortunately, this does not work in diabetic patients because their insulin production is impaired or the cells do not respond to insulin. Without proper diabetes management, people with diabetes can experience blood sugar spikes after eating carbohydrate-rich foods, which are very unhealthy.
According to the USDA, a medium-sized banana contains about 27 grams of relatively high carbohydrates. However, bananas also contain about 3 grams of dietary fiber.
According to a study, fiber helps slow the absorption of carbohydrates. It, in turn, reduces blood spikes and helps with overall blood sugar management. Therefore, a better way to determine the effects of bananas on blood sugar is to look at their glycemic index and glycemic load.
Do bananas have a high glycemic index?
The glycemic index (GI) measures blood sugar levels after eating a particular food, and GI values help determine whether or not a food is suitable for people with diabetes. For example, a GI score of 55 or less is considered low, meaning the food will not raise blood sugar significantly.
Glycemic load (GL) is a more specific measure that takes into account not only the glycemic index of a food, but also the number of carbohydrates in a serving of that food. A score of 10 or less is considered a low GL. According to a meta-analytical studylow glycemic index foods are considered better for people with diabetes.
According to a study, ripe bananas have a low GI of 51 and a moderate GL of 13. Let’s understand why the glycemic load is higher when the glycemic index is low. This is due to the higher carbohydrate content of bananas, which increases the glycemic load. However, carbohydrate bananas function as resistant starch, which functions similarly to dietary fiber.
Resistant starch does not break down in the small intestine, releasing less glucose into the blood. As a result, it produces a lower glycemic index. According to a studyResistant starch may also help nourish intestinal commensals, leading to improved metabolic health and better blood sugar management. Data also indicates that resistant starch may have beneficial effects for people with diabetes as it improves insulin sensitivity.
The amount of carbohydrates in a banana varies depending on ripeness. Green, or unripe, bananas contain less sugar and more resistant starch. They also have a lower glycemic index of 42 and a glycemic load of 11. Therefore, unripe bananas are a better choice than ripe bananas.
Can a person with diabetes eat bananas?
With all the data in hand, we can say that bananas may be suitable for people with diabetes as they help improve insulin sensitivity and maintain blood sugar levels. However, it would be helpful to consider the ripeness of the fruit and the serving size.
Bananas have a high glycemic load and eating them in larger amounts can spike sugar levels. Therefore, bananas should be eaten in smaller portions.
Healthy green banana recipes
Here are some delicious and healthy green banana recipes for you.
1. Banana salad
- Coarsely chopped bananas: 2 cups
- Whipped fresh curd: ¾ cup
- Finely chopped fresh mint leaves: ½ cup
- Salt to taste
- Lemon juice: a few drops
- Peeled and coarsely chopped cucumber: ½ cup
- Peanuts roasted and coarsely crushed: ½ tablespoon
- Peanuts roasted and coarsely crushed: 1 tablespoon
- Finely chopped dill leaves: ½ tbsp
- Finely chopped green chillies: ½ teaspoon
- Combine the curd, mint leaves, salt and pepper in a bowl for the dressing and mix well.
- Add banana, lemon juice, cucumber, salt, dill leaves and crushed peanuts.
- Serve it cold, garnished with peanuts, dill leaves and green chilies.
2. Green banana curry
- Banana apples: 5-6
- Coconut oil: 2 tablespoons
- Chopped onion: 1
- Red or green bell pepper, chopped: 1
- Chopped garlic cloves: 4
- Grated fresh turmeric (or ½ teaspoon dried): 1 tablespoon
- Grated fresh ginger: 1 tablespoon
- Mustard seeds: 2 tablespoons
- Coconut milk: 15 ounces
- Tamarind sauce/paste: 1 tbsp
- Salt, more to taste: 1 teaspoon
- Chopped fresh cilantro: ¼ cup
- Chopped fresh Thai basil: ¼ cup
- Separate the bunch of bananas. Put it in a pot and pour enough water to cover it with water.
- Boil and cook for 25 minutes. The bananas will lose color and split open. Remove the banana from the water and set aside to cool.
- Once cooled, peel the bananas and cut them into ½ inch cubes.
- Heat the coconut oil and add the onion.
- Bake for 10 minutes or until tender and golden. Then add the chilli, ginger, turmeric and mustard seeds.
- Stir to combine well and cook for five more minutes.
- Add the chopped bananas, coconut milk, tamarind chutney and salt. Bring to a simmer over low heat, then lower the heat and cover.
- Simmer until the bananas are tender (about 10 minutes).
- Stir in cilantro and basil, and add more salt if needed.
3. Samoan Green Banana
- Coconut milk: 13.5 ounces
- Onion (chopped): 1 large
- Unripe bananas (green): 6 (small)
- Add coconut milk and onion to a bowl.
- Boil water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Boil the bananas in their skins for 30 to 40 minutes. Then filter it.
- To cool the bananas, run them under cold water to make them easy to handle. Next, remove the whole skin from the banana.
- Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat and place the bananas in the pan. Pour the coconut milk mixture over the bananas.
- Cook until the coconut milk is frothy. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.
You can use green bananas in several ways. They are used raw, boiled, fried and in curries.
You can find more fun ways to use this healthy fruit in your diet.
Bananas are very nutritious foods that are available in many varieties. You can eat it raw, or you can also cook it. They are high in carbohydrates, so people with diabetes are afraid to eat them. Digging deeper, it is understood that bananas have a low glycemic index due to resistant starch.
It is the type of starch that resists enzymes in the small intestine and slows the absorption of blood glucose, thus preventing a rise in blood sugar. It has positive effects on maintaining blood sugar levels. It is therefore completely safe and recommended to consume bananas for people with diabetes. However, it would be helpful to consider the portion size and ripeness of the bananas before using them.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What are the benefits of eating bananas?
A. Nutrient-rich bananas are very beneficial to your health. They support digestive health through dietary fiber. They have a positive effect on the intestinal microflora. According to a study, they are also full of antioxidants. Since bananas are rich in potassium, they also help control high blood pressure.
Q. Is it okay to eat bananas every day?
A. Research is lacking in this area. However, one of the studies indicates that eating bananas daily can improve heart health, lipid profile, and blood sugar levels. However, eating too many bananas per day can have adverse health effects, such as weight gain, poor blood sugar control, and nutrient deficiencies.
Q. Who should not eat bananas?
A. All age groups can eat bananas. You should, however, consume it in proper portions because too many bananas are detrimental to your health. Additionally, you should avoid eating bananas in case of hyperkalemia, where the body’s potassium levels are high. Bananas are high in potassium and can make the condition worse.
Q. Are bananas fattening?
A. Bananas are a high calorie food. However, the portions usually recommended are not fattening. Weight gain only occurs due to excessive consumption of bananas over a prolonged period.
Q. When should you not eat bananas?
A. You can eat bananas any time of the day. They can also help you sleep better because they contain nutrients like magnesium, potassium, and tryptophan.
Q. What do bananas do to the brain?
A.Yes, it is true that bananas are good for your memory because they contain vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 stimulates the production of your neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine, which help you focus and improve your memory. However, there is no concrete evidence to prove the same.
Q. What happens if you eat a banana every morning?
A. Eating bananas before breakfast or as part of a balanced meal promotes satiety and promotes digestive health. Additionally, bananas contain several essential micronutrients, including potassium and vitamin C.
Q. Do bananas poop?
A. Bananas are rich in several essential vitamins and minerals. Bananas are also relatively high in fiber, with one medium banana containing about 3.1 grams of fiber. As a result, it can increase your bowel movements.
Q. Why are bananas unhealthy?
A. Bananas are not inherently unhealthy. On the contrary, they are very nutritious and considered superfoods. Eating bananas only becomes really risky if you eat too many of them.
Q. What are the side effects of bananas?
A. Side effects of bananas are rare but can include bloating, gas, cramps, loose stools, nausea, and vomiting. In addition, bananas can cause high levels of potassium in the blood at very high doses, for example in cases of hyperkalemia.
Q. Are bananas good for you before bed?
A.Yes, you can eat bananas before bed. They can help you sleep better by containing nutrients like magnesium, potassium and tryptophan.
Q. Can you eat bananas on an empty stomach?
A. We find that bananas, although full of potassium, fiber and magnesium, are not a good option to eat on an empty stomach. The high amount of energy-boosting natural sugars in bananas can also make you feel drained after a few hours.