Are Bananas Fattening or Do They Aid Weight Loss?
People who are anxious about improving their health are often advised to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
But some people are afraid that sugary fruits like bananas can cause a buildup of fat.
Well, in this article, we will examine the health benefits of bananas, and also get to know whether bananas will make you gain fat or lose weight.
Raw nutrition facts about bananas
Bananas are rich in many nutrients and provide a lot of health benefits.
Bananas contain carbs, fiber, and essential minerals and vitamins.
For instance, a medium-sized banana will provide you with the following nutrients (1):
- Vitamin C: 17% of the recommended daily intake (RDI)
- Potassium: 12% of the RDI
- Fiber: 3.1 grams
- Magnesium: 8% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 20% of the RDI
- Copper: 5% of the RDI
- Manganese: 15% of the RDI
The total number of calories that this provides is around 105. 90% of this comes from carbs. A greater percentage of the carbs in ripe bananas are from fructose, glucose, and sucrose.
It is also important to note that bananas do not contain plenty of protein and fat.
Bananas contain lots of fiber, but a very small number of calories
Yes! Bananas are loaded with calories but contain very little fiber.
From a medium-sized banana, you can get no less than 12% of your RDI, with no less than 105 calories.
Fiber is a very important component of the diet. It maintains regular bowel movement and boosts your digestive health (5).
A study found that intake of fiber helped to lower the bodyweight of over 252 women. The researchers measured the food intake of these women for over 20 months. Results from the study showed that the women lost 0.55 lbs. (0.25kg) of weight for every extra gram of fiber that they ate daily (15).
Here’s the thing with fiber: it has a satiety effect, meaning it makes you feel full for longer. This, in turn, causes you to eat fewer calories.
But results from other studies seem to contradict this. These studies have found that extra fiber does not affect one’s calorie intake or fullness (16).
Green bananas have more resistant starch
Take note, the kind of carbs found in a banana depends on how ripe it is. Green or unripe bananas have a higher amount of resistant starch. Conversely, ripe bananas (usually yellow) contain lots of sugar.
As the name implies, resistant starches are resistant to digestion. They are made up of long chains of glucose.
Resistant starch is similar to soluble fiber, and they have many health benefits. Some health benefits of resistant starch include reduction of blood sugar levels and weight loss (17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22).
Bananas have a low glycemic index
The glycemic index of a food is a measure of how much that food raises blood sugar levels. If a food has a score lower than 55, then it means that it has a low glycemic index. On the other hand, foods with a score of 56-69 have a medium glycemic index, while foods with a score above 70 have a high glycemic index.
Foods that contain simple sugars are absorbed by the body without much stress. Their glycemic index value is also on the high side since they cause a greater rise in blood sugar levels.
Foods with slowly absorbed carbs have a low glycemic index and stabilize blood sugar levels. And, because bananas have 90% carbs, they are classified as sugary fruits meaning that they can cause a spike in your blood sugar level.
But it is important to note that bananas have a glycemic index of 42-62, and the glycemic index depends on the ripeness. Thus, the GI of bananas ranges from low to medium (42).
It is important to note that the glycemic index of ripe bananas is higher than that of green bananas. As the banana matures, its sugar content increases, and this affects the level of sugar in your blood.
Generally, bananas release sugar slowly. In a particular study, it was found that intake of 250g (9 oz) of banana daily for 4 weeks caused a significant reduction in cholesterol and fasting blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics (43).
Bananas and other low glycemic index foods also keep you full and stabilize your blood sugar level. This in turn leads to weight loss (27).
So, are bananas fattening or do they aid weight loss?
Well, truth is that bananas are nutritious and healthy. They also contain plenty of fiber, but low in calories.
The glycemic index of bananas ranges from low to medium. This means that they may not necessarily spike your blood sugar levels compared to other foods.
Although no direct research has been done on the effects of bananas on weight, they could work well as weight loss foods. If you want to lose weight, then go ahead and add bananas to your diet.
Learn more >>>>> Reading and understanding the new nutrition facts panel
Ifiokobong Ene is a Medical Physiologist, and a freelance medical writer. Ifiok brings his years of medical research experience to help consistently create high-quality, and engaging articles and products that uphold the highest medical standards. He is dedicated to making health and wellness information available, actionable, and understandable so that readers can make the best decisions about their health.