Bananas, Sugar and Resistant Starch
A resounding question I hear each week is:
“I’m supposed to avoid bananas – they have too much sugar, right?”
To answer succinctly, I don’t think anyone gained weight or suffered ill health (unless allergic) just from just eating a banana but here’s the more scientific response.
A fellow RD, Sofia Layarda, MPH, RD, wrote a great blog on the comparison of bananas versus apples and grapes with the breakdown of calories versus sugar, total carbs and fiber so take a look and see that bananas are right in line with other fruits.
What I wanted to address was the topic of resistant starch. And WHAT is resistant starch?
Resistant starch is one of those substances your gut loves since it is not digestible in the small intestine but passes through to the large intestine where the healthy bacteria in your gut change it into fatty acids.
These fatty acids contribute to colon health since they make the environment less hospitable to bacteria that cause illness or potentially toxic or carcinogenic compounds.
Resistant starch also adds bulk to the stool, which helps with improved digestion and absorption. In addition, resistant starch is associated with positive changes in metabolism since it linked to a lowered glycemic response to food, lower cholesterol and triglycerides levels, and increased satiety.
Finally, bananas have been linked to improved mood since they can slightly alter serotonin and dopamine levels.
The disclaimer is that to get the most resistant starch make sure your bananas have a touch of green or are a bit under ripe. Eating ripe and spotted bananas will not achieve the same effect. If you are insulin resistant you might have to stick to 1/2 banana for your individual carb allotment.
So if bananas are something you like and enjoy they can be a healthful part of your diet for gut health, fiber and potassium – and if you have those with a touch of green it’s better for your health. And in answer the initial question…less ripe bananas have a lot less sugar than yellow or spotted ones.