Quantcast

Bananas: Are They Fattening or Will They Help You Lose Weight?

Food

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.

Bananas contain a number of beneficial plant compounds and antioxidants, including dopamine and catechin.

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-sized banana contains (1):

  • Potassium: 12 percent of the RDI.
  • Vitamin B6: 20 percent of the RDI.
  • Vitamin C: 17 percent of the RDI.
  • Magnesium: 8 percent of the RDI.
  • Copper: 5 percent of the RDI.
  • Manganese: 15 percent of the RDI.
  • Fiber: 3.1 grams.

This is coming with around 105 calories, 90 percent of which come 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 also contain a number of beneficial plant compounds and antioxidants, including dopamine and catechin (2, 3, 4).

More details here: Bananas 101 — Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits.

Bottom Line: Bananas contain carbs, fiber, some essential nutrients and antioxidants. A medium-sized banana provides 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 12 percent of your recommended daily intake, with just 105 calories.

Fiber is important for maintaining regular bowel habits and plays a vital role in digestive health (5).

Eating high amounts of fiber has even been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, diverticular disease and some cancers (6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12).

An adequate fiber intake is also linked to reduced body weight (13, 14).

One study measured the food intake of 252 women for 20 months. It found that for every extra gram of fiber the women ate per day, their body weight was around 0.55 lbs (0.25 kg) lower (15).

This effect is thought to occur because fiber makes you feel full for longer, which may help you eat fewer calories over the long term.

However, other studies have found that extra fiber in the diet does not affect people's fullness or calorie intake (16).

Bottom Line: Bananas are a good source of fiber. A high fiber intake has been linked to reduced body weight and a number of 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 sugars.

Resistant starches are long chains of glucose (starch) that are resistant to digestion.

They act like soluble fiber in the body and have lots of potential health benefits. This includes weight loss and reduced blood sugar levels (17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22).

Resistant starch can also slow down the absorption of sugar from foods. This keeps your blood sugar levels stable and helps you feel full (23, 24, 25, 26).

Furthermore, resistant starch may also increase fat burning (27, 28, 29).

Here is a detailed article about resistant starch and its health effects.

Bottom Line: Green (unripe) bananas contain resistant starch, which has been linked to weight loss and reduced blood sugar levels.

Bananas Have a Low Glycemic Index, But it Depends on Ripeness

The glycemic index (GI) measures how much foods raise blood sugar levels. If a food scores lower than 55, it's considered to have a low GI. 56–69 is medium, while a score above 70 is high.

Foods that contain a lot of simple sugars are quickly absorbed and have a high GI value since they cause a greater rise in blood sugar levels.

Eating a lot of high-GI foods has been linked to weight gain and an increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke (30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38,39, 40, 41).

Foods with more slowly absorbed carbs have a lower GI and keep your blood sugar levels stable. Since bananas are 90 percent carbs, they're sometimes considered to be a high-sugar fruit that could spike your blood sugar.

However, the GI score of bananas is 42–62, depending on ripeness. This makes them low to medium on the glycemic index (42).

Ripe bananas have a higher GI than greener bananas. The sugar content increases as the banana matures, which in turn affects your blood sugar levels.

That said, overall bananas seem to release their sugars slowly.

One recent study followed type 2 diabetics with high cholesterol. They added 9 oz (250 grams) of banana to their breakfast for 4 weeks, which significantly reduced fasting blood sugar and cholesterol levels (43).

Low-GI foods like bananas may also help you feel full and keep blood sugar levels stable. This may lead to weight loss over time (27).

Bananas Are Filling, But Not as Much as Some Other Fruits

Filling up on high-fiber, low-calorie snacks can help with weight loss and weight maintenance.

These foods help prevent feelings of hunger and subsequent overeating, without adding lots of unnecessary calories to your diet.

In fact, bananas could help fill you up a lot better than other higher-calorie snacks.

However, they aren't quite as filling as some other fruits. For example, apples and oranges are more filling than bananas, calorie per calorie (47).

Bottom Line: Bananas are filling foods. However, they aren't quite as filling as apples and oranges.

Fattening or Weight Loss Friendly?

Bananas are healthy and nutritious, there is no doubt about that. They are also high in fiber, but low in calories.

Most bananas have a low to medium glycemic index and should not cause big spikes in blood sugar levels compared to other high-carb foods.

Although there are no studies that directly examine the effects of bananas on weight, they do have several properties that should make them a weight loss friendly food.

If you are trying to lose weight, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with eating bananas as a part of a balanced, real food based diet.

This article was reposted from our media associate Authority Nutrition.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

How Kind Bars Are Helping Push the FDA to Reconsider What 'Healthy' Means

13 Ways to Stop Mindless Eating

Hey Vegetarians and Vegans: It's Time to Debunk the Protein Combining Myth

3 Easy Steps to Make Cold Brew Coffee at Home

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Coral restoration in Guam. U.S. Pacific Fleet / CC BY-NC 2.0

By Erica Cirino

Visit a coral reef off the coast of Miami or the Maldives and you may see fields of bleached white instead of a burst of colors.

Read More
Cracker Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana. Jacob W. Frank / NPS / Flickr

By Jason Bittel

High up in the mountains of Montana's Glacier National Park, there are two species of insect that only a fly fishermen or entomologist would probably recognize. Known as stoneflies, these aquatic bugs are similar to dragonflies and mayflies in that they spend part of their lives underwater before emerging onto the land, where they transform into winged adults less than a half inch long. However, unlike those other species, stoneflies do their thing only where cold, clean waters flow.

Read More
Sponsored
Augusta National / Getty Images

By Bob Curley

  • The new chicken sandwiches at McDonald's, Popeyes, and Chick-fil-A all contain the MSG flavor enhancement chemical.
  • Experts say MSG can enhance the so-called umami flavor of a food.
  • The ingredient is found in everything from Chinese food and pizza to prepackaged sandwiches and table sauces.

McDonald's wants to get in on the chicken sandwich war currently being waged between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A.

Read More
Protesters march during a "Friday for future" youth demonstration in a street of Davos on Jan. 24 on the sideline of the World Economic Forum annual meeting. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

Youth climate activists marched through the streets of Davos, Switzerland Friday as the World Economic Forum wrapped up in a Fridays for Future demonstration underscoring their demand that the global elite act swiftly to tackle the climate emergency.

Read More
chuchart duangdaw / Moment / Getty Images

By Tim Radford

The year is less than four weeks old, but scientists already know that carbon dioxide emissions will continue to head upwards — as they have every year since measurements began leading to a continuation of the Earth's rising heat.

Read More