Are Bananas Good For You? – 10 Little Known Banana Facts

Are bananas good for you? YES, they most certainly are, and below are 10 little known facts about the humble banana that will get you rushing to the fruit bowl in a jiffy.

Bananas naturally come conveniently packaged and are at their most nutrient dense when eaten raw and straight out of their skin. They are also wonderfully versatile and taste delicious either fresh, dried or cooked and turned into sweet and savory dishes alike.

The Ripeness Spectrum of the Banana

bunch of ripe bananas

As you’ve probably already noticed, bananas come in different degrees of ripeness. On one end of the spectrum you have the unripened, firm green banana and on the other end they can be very ripe and yellow with brown spots. Interestingly, these two are poles apart both nutritionally and sugar content wise, and as they both have different pros and cons it’s important to know the difference.

PROS AND CONS OF A RIPE BANANA

  • Easier to digest due to the fact that the banana’s starches have turned into simple sugars.
  • The more they ripen, the higher they become in antioxidants (a good thing).
  • They are not suitable for diabetics, as the riper the banana, the higher the GI. (GI is short for glycemic index, and is a number associated with how fast a food’s sugars hit the bloodstream. The system rates on a scale of 1-100, and anything under 50 is considered low GI. Really ripe bananas come in at around 60, unripe around 30, and the average banana 51).
  • The ripe banana is not as good for weight loss due to its higher GI.

PROS AND CONS OF AN UNRIPE BANANA

  • Their low resistant starch content makes them low GI, which is good for diabetics or anyone on a low sugar diet.
  • Probiotic bacteria – unripe bananas contain a healthy bacterium that is very good for the colon.
  • Unripe bananas help you to absorb other nutrients more effectively, especially calcium.
  • In conclusion to this, unless you have specific needs you should generally go for the medium ripened, yellow bananas as you will get some of the nutritional benefits of both.

10 Amazing Banana Facts

1. INSTANT ENERGY  

running in the park

One medium banana contains around 90 calories and will give you both a mental AND physical boost. This is due to its low GI, sustained energy release, making it a perfect pudding, between meal snack, or pre/post workout snack. Or even a snack to fuel yourself between longer, harder workouts as they are easily transportable.

Eat them with a little protein such as peanut butter for more sustained energy.

2. HIGH FIBER

Banana’s are a great source of soluble and insoluble fiber, which means they will give you a feeling of fullness very quickly. Great to have at breakfast as a nutritious start to the day; just slice them onto your cereal, add to oatmeal, homemade healthy muesli, or mash onto toast with some sugar free peanut butter for added protein. This will for sure keep you full up until lunch.

3. BRILLIANT SOURCE OF POTASSIUM 

Probably the thing banana’s are most famous for is their high potassium content, and for good reason as one banana contains at least 20% of your RDA of this mineral. Potassium is needed for heart health, as it regulates both the heartbeat and blood pressure, and is also great for keeping the brain sharp and alert – so a great, cheap and healthy snack for students.

4. A NUTRITIONAL POWERHOUSE 

cereal and sliced banana

Banana’s are a nutritional powerhouse of vitamin B6, manganese, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and folate. They are also packed with fiber which helps keep your system ‘cleaned out’ and your digestion firing on all cylinders, and eating them with other fiber rich foods will really enhance this effect.

Getting enough fiber into your diet is crucial to health as it also normalises bowels, lowers cholesterol, keep you full which helps with weight control, and generally helps you to live longer.

5. GOOD FOR DIGESTION

Because of their pectin content, bananas are great for easing stomach problems such as diarrhea. They also help to soothe an upset stomach and replace any potassium and electrolytes that may be lost due to a bout of sickness or a bug.

Bananas are perfect added to a healthy breakfast along with other fruits, nuts and seeds, and will work well with all these things to make a tasty and nutritious meal. OR who’s ever had sliced banana and hot custard for pudding? Yum! That’s a treat I remember well from my childhood.

6. HELPS ANEMIA 

Banana’s are high in iron, and so are a good choice for those suffering from anemia. As with all food products, many of the nutrients have a higher availability in the body when they are in their natural whole form, which allows them more readily absorbed. Remember, our body is designed to eat and digest natural, whole foods, so the closer we can keep to that way of eating, the better we will feel.

7. GUT FRIENDLY 

woman's stomach

The pectin and resistant starch in an unripe banana has a prebiotic effect, so therefore can increase healthy gut bacteria which will help reduce bloating, ease IBS, and help alleviate other digestive disorders.

A healthy gut equals a healthy immune system, and recent research has found that the gut has a ‘brain’ of its own and therefore can even control our mood and mental state. This explains a lot to me personally, because I know that when I eat lots of fiber and probitics I really do feel happier, have more clarity and focus, and generally feel high on life.

8. HELPS REDUCE BLOOD SUGAR 

This is more so the case in an unripe banana, which is due to their fiber called pectin and also their resistant starch content. Both of these help to moderate blood sugar levels, making them an excellent choice for diabetics, or anybody with blood sugar issues.

Keeping your blood sugar on an even keel is the cornerstone of great health, and will not only keep you slim, but can lower your chance of many other diseases such as heat disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and metabolic syndrome. Many modern day diseases can caused by eating too much sugar and high GI foods.

Eating a diet full of low GI foods in general will help to lower you chances of disease, and will also help keep you within a healthy BMI.

9. ANTI AGING 

beautiful skin woman

As with all other fruits and vegetables, bananas contain food amounts of antioxidants. In fact, they actually contain the potent antioxidants dopamine and catechins, both of which offer a reduced chance of heart disease and other degenerative diseases when eaten alongside other healthy plant base foods and regular exercise.

Antioxidant rich foods in general will also help neutralise the free radical damage done from environmental toxins, which will ultimately help keep you youthful looking; and more importantly, will help to slow aging on the inside too, including the oxidation of your grey matter itself.

10. MOOD BOOSTER

Due to their high levels of tryptophan (which converts to serotonin in the body), bananas can make you happy and help alleviate mild depression or low mood, alongside other dietary changes and moderate exercise. Serotonin is the ‘happy hormone’ that we all need in adequate levels in order to feel good, and even get ourselves out of bed in the morning.  

Banana Smoothie

banana milkshake

My absolute favorite way to use a banana is to slice and freeze in a container ready to be eaten either frozen as a sweet treat, OR added to smoothies (this works best with quite ripe bananas). This works great in smoothies with a quality plant protein powder as a great post workout. The frozen banana gives it a frothy cold milkshake effect, its sugars help to put glycogen back into the muscles, and the protein helps to repair and rebuild. Just perfect!

2 Minute Ice-cream

Another easy, tasty and super healthy treat for all the family is 2 minute banana ice-cream in your blender. Use sliced, frozen very ripe bananas for this, and simply blend in your high speed blender with a little nut milk or coconut cream until smooth. Adding frozen blueberries works well too. You will have to keep adding a little milk at a time until you can get it just right; you want it to just about turn in the blender but not beyond that or it will be too runny.

Be sure you use SLICED frozen banana, otherwise you will more than likely bust your blender up. A mistake I have made in the past!

Thanks for taking the time to stop by and learn about bananas. I hope you enjoyed the post, and I would love to hear from you with any comments or questions related to anything in this article. Please post below and have an awesome day!

Stefanie Taylor
Plant based eating is set to EXPLODE in 2019; not just for health reasons, but also to help keep our beautiful planet thriving. I have lived this healthful lifestyle for over 2 years, which is the reason why zestforever was born to share my experiences, trials and errors, how I overcame them, and how to turn to this lifestyle in such a way that you will thrive too.

I have studied, tried and tested healthy foods, superfoods and diets for over 25 years, but nothing has come close to giving me the buzz of wellness that plant based eating has. To expand my knowledge further I have also studied and worked as a Sports Nutritional Advisor, Nutritional Therapist, and Clinical Weight Loss Advisor - all of which can tie in with the plant based diet.

This website is not intended to treat or diagnose any medical diseases or illnesses. It's merely meant as a way of showing you how to boost your health through the eating of more nutritious plant foods in place of junk foods.

I am grateful for your support, and I hope that the tips and guides you find here will help to guide you on your own plant based journey.

21 thoughts on “Are Bananas Good For You? – 10 Little Known Banana Facts”

  1. I didn’t know there were any pro’s to eating unripe bananas! My grandpa is a diabetic so it’s good to know that he can still benefit from eating them. My favorite banana meal is to put a banana in a piece of whole wheat bread and cover it with peanut butter and jelly – like a hot dog. It’s good if you’re in a hurry.

    • Hi Valerie, yes unripe bananas are great for diabetics so tell your Grandpa. Or maybe get him to double check with his doctor first if he has any concerns. You are a woman after my own heart as I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches too, though we call jelly jam here in the UK haha

  2. Bananas are the perfect snack on the go. They come with their own of packaging, are easy to eat and a good energy hit.
    They are a family favourite, and did you now that bananas are a natural beta blocker? Great to help with anxiety.

    • Hi Vince, yes I’m a big banana fan too! I probably eat at least one a day, maybe more if I’m training. No I didn’t know about them being a beta blocker so that’s another thing to add to the list hey! Thanks for the information.

  3. Stephanie, I love bananas and generally towards the unripe end of the scale. Here is a recipe for you that is so good.

    When the bananas are getting to the unripe/ripe border chop them into pieces and freeze them. When you want ice-cream take out a bag and pop the banana into your food processor. Process until bananas have the texture of ice-cream.

    A work colleague of mine had a severe heart attack when very young. His wife did a lot of research and found this recipe. So he could eat ‘ice-cream’ at no peril to himself.

    I haven’t been to the UK for years but spent some time travelling around with an English friend. Mostly we visited the wonderful gardens, all with extensive herb sections. Such a great trip that was.

    You have a very nice site and keep up the well informing articles.

    Ciao
    Helen

    • Hi Helen, I am very glad you have traveled around the UK, it is especially lovely in the summertime so I hope that is when you went :-). Thank you for your comment on my post, I was shocked myself at the benefits of the humble banana whilst researching this post.

      Now as for the banana ice-cream, it’s funny you should mention that as I do already make a similar version of that, except I also throw in a handful of frozen blueberries and a dash of coconut milk. It really is delicious and I’m pretty addicted to it but I will now try out just the banana version as it will probably make it a whole new texture. There is definitely something about bananas that give it a wonderful gooey texture that you can’t get from anything else.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day.

  4. In Chinese medicine bananas are used to clear heat from the stomach like in heartburn. And they say if you feel heat when you are eating them then you are getting the best effects all round.

    • Hi Simon, thanks for commenting and yes, in my research I did come across this information about how they are used in Chinese me. It always amazes me how different foods and plants can heal every part of the body.

      I work for a medical herbalist and she uses a lot of Chinese herbs, as well as all the other herbs, and every day I hear people praising her for how she has helped them heal themselves from all sorts of things, and many times this has happened after the traditional doctors have told the patient they cannot help them anymore. I think when people get told this it gives them the impetus to seek alternative medicine and I love how much I learn about this every day.

  5. I love them and they are a regular part of our diet, nice article. I grew up eating green bananas and your article is a reminder for me to get back to it. Thanks

    • Great that you eat lots of bananas. I always have at least one a day as they are just a great little snack to have at any time. I know they say you shouldn’t eat fruit before bed time but I often have a banana and it sends me off to sleep nicely. Must be something to do with the nutrients, I don’t know but it’s definitely worth a try for those who may have difficulty sleeping.

  6. Great article, Bananas are no double very nutritious and healthy for people of every age group, from weaning babies to old people. It is really helpful to know all these facts of bananas, as always, your articles are so so informative and helpful. Thank you so much for sharing all these useful reads with us.

    • Hi Sarah, yes bananas are my definite go to healthy snack any time of day or night. They are great with breakfast, as a snack when you are feeling peckish, good to reglycogenate muscles after exercise, great as a pre-exercise energy snack, and also they are a great snack before bed to stop you from feeling peckish in the night. They are truly awesome!

  7. Hi Stefanie – thanks for this post. As a vegan I am constantly looking at different plant based foods and I eat at least 1 banana a day with my home made muesli.
    I source the riper bananas and often pick them up dirt cheap at the veg shop as they are discounted for colouration – the very thing I am after.
    Lawrence

    • Hi Lawrence, yep, got to love a banana hey? I’m glad to hear you are a vegan, that’s fantastic and I salute you. I have been eating plant based for about a year now and it’s been the most amazing journey of my life, and has done so much for my health and vitality I cannot even begin to explain. Obviously, this was the catalyst for my whole website.

      I too eat bananas in abundance as they are SO cheap and easy to take anywhere, and if I pick up massive bunches dirt cheap then I either make banana bread or slice them up and freeze them. You can then add them into smoothies which gives them a fluffy ice cream texture, or you can make banana ice cream by just whizzing them up in a processor with a little coconut milk/cream. It tastes amazing and just like ice cream! You really should try it.

  8. Oh I do love all of the benefits of bananas so I am glad because they are actually one of my favorite fruits. I also like to buy them slightly green as I don’t like eating ripe bananas at all. So the benefits are great as well? Works for me! Thanks for all the great information!

  9. This is AMAZING!! I love bananas even more now! Anemia? And so much more! Seriously, you made my day! Is it ok to eat bananas every day?

    • Hi Kathleen, I’m glad you enjoyed my post and learnt something new. Yes’ definitely ok to have a banana every day, I do and sometimes I may have a couple as they are just such a great snack. As I exercise a lot they are especially good as they are full of energy and the perfect pre and post workout snack. In fact, I think mother nature made them for that purpose!

      If your’e going to eat them a lot then think it’s best to have the medium ripe bananas so you don’t get too much sugar (even though it’s good sugar), but if you are about to exercise then the really ripe ones are great.

  10. Great read. It just confirms what I’ve been telling my husband all along. Personally, I can’t and won’t eat a very ripe banana as it’s too slimy and tastes awful. I guess I like them just at the right time, a bit greenish just turning yellow. Lol
    Love your posts, so much great insight!

    • Yes I’m not a fan of an over ripe banana either as the texture is all wrong, however they are great to add to smoothies or banana cake when you really want the extra sweetness so that’s what I do with my over ripe ones now. You can also slice them and freeze them, then put in a processor with some coconut milk or cream and they make the perfect healthy ice cream. Or just chuck the frozen pieces straight into your smoothie and blend for a nice cold frothy texture.

  11. Banana is a great and nutritious fruit full of nutritional goodness. My son is a fussy eater but loves eating bananas and since then he started gaining weight. What a useful post this is, I will share it for sure. I think banana is one of the super fruits which people of all ages can eat from weaning babies to elderly.

    • Hi Sarah, I know, bananas are greataren’t they? My 3 year old nephew lives on them, probably eats a couple a day but he has them instead of sweets so it doesn’t mean he gets too much sugar.

      They are indeed fantastic for kids if you want them to gain a little weight, and so full of nutrients. Also, they are so versatile and can be prepared in many ways, such as mashed in sandwitches, in smoothies, baked etc. I love them! I’m glad your son likes them too.

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