June 19, 2024

Information in the press or on social media about bananas’ sugar and carbohydrate content may make you wonder if bananas are good for you. The truth is that when eaten mindfully, bananas are a very healthy fruit. They have tons to offer nutritionally and are an excellent choice for a healthy diet.

In this article, we’re expanding on reasons bananas are good for you and instances in which you may want to limit your consumption.

Kseniya Ovchinnikova / Getty Images


Benefits of Bananas

Bananas are good for you whenever you want to enjoy one (in moderation, like anything else). However, there are some critical times when having bananas may be especially beneficial for your health and wellness.

When You’re Sick

When you have a poor appetite, having nutrient-dense foods that won’t irritate your stomach is important. Bananas are the “B” in the acronym BRAT diet, a limited diet consisting of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. The BRAT diet is often recommended when you have nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Bananas offer a mild flavor and soft texture that’s easy to digest. They also provide an array of vitamins and minerals to help replete your nutrition without taking up much room in your stomach.

Weight Loss

Incorporating more bananas into your diet can be a good idea if you’re trying to lose weight. They’re naturally sweet, which can help satisfy some sweet cravings, particularly at night.

Furthermore, bananas are low in calories, typically only containing around 100–120 per fruit. They also provide fiber and resistant starch that helps satisfy you without spiking your blood sugar. The greener the banana, the more resistant starch it contains.

Other Benefits 

Bananas have some other great qualities, too, including:

  • They’re low cost: Bananas are a great budget-friendly option to help you meet your daily fruit and vegetable intake.
  • They’re convenient: Not every fruit comes in its own compostable packaging. Bananas make excellent travel snacks—just don’t forget them in the bottom of your bag.
  • They contain antioxidants: Antioxidants are compounds that help protect your cells from oxidative stress and damage that promotes disease. Bananas provide antioxidants like flavonoids and amines.
  • They’re great for exercise recovery: Bananas contain magnesium and potassium, two electrolytes often needing replenishment among athletes after sweating through challenging workouts.

Eating Bananas Every Day: What’s the Cutoff?

There’s no question that bananas are a nutritious food that can benefit just about any diet pattern. However, there can be too much of a good thing. Eating too much of any single food, including bananas, can do more harm than good for your health and wellness.

Reasons to reduce your banana intake include:

  • Bananas are generally considered a low-calorie food. However, if you’re eating so many bananas in a day that it’s causing you to exceed your energy needs, this may lead to unwanted weight gain.
  • Bananas provide an array of micronutrients, such as vitamin B6, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, and manganese. While these are important for your health, you shouldn’t be eating so many bananas that you’re crowding out room for foods that provide the nutrients they lack.
  • Bananas are low in protein, fat, iron, calcium, or fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins D and K. This is why it’s so important to include a variety of foods in your diet rather than eating a couple of foods in large amounts.

Overall, there’s no set number for how many bananas you should eat as long as they fit within your individual nutrient needs. Generally speaking, one or two bananas per day is probably reasonable for most people.

Remember that we’re talking about fresh bananas here, not banana products. For instance, banana chips are often sweetened, adding calories and sugar you may not want. The same goes for banana-flavored candy chews and beverages.

Key Nutrients in Bananas

Bananas don’t just come in their own packaging. They also provide several important nutrients for your health.

In one medium-sized banana, you’ll find the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 113
  • Protein: 1 gram (g)
  • Fat: Less than 1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 26 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Total sugar: 18 g
  • Vitamin C: 16% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin B6: 14% DV
  • Potassium: 8% DV
  • Magnesium: 8% DV

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Adding a banana to your day is a great way to help meet those guidelines.

Bananas, Carb Content, and Sugar

One of the reasons bananas are often called out in headlines is because they are higher in sugar per serving than some of the other fruits. This creates a misconception that bananas should be avoided due to their sugar content.

The natural sugar in fruits like bananas differs from the added sugar you mix into a recipe when baking a cake. Fruit sugar is packaged with other nutrients, like fiber, vitamins, and minerals, whereas added sugar is just sugar and calories with no nutritional benefit.

Furthermore, a banana won’t cause the same dramatic spike in your blood sugar compared to a sugary treat. Consider pairing a banana with a spoonful of peanut butter or a handful of almonds to make an even more satisfying and balanced snack.

Ripe vs. Overripe Bananas

The best stage of ripeness to eat bananas is the stage you enjoy the most, but there are also some nutritional differences that vary by ripeness. For example, green bananas (underripe) contain more resistant starch and fiber than riper bananas. The natural sugar content is higher among overripe bananas, making them excellent for baking.

Other Reasons to Limit Banana Consumption

The primary reasons you should avoid eating bananas include if you have a banana allergy or don’t like them as a fruit. However, there are also some potential interactions to be aware of between bananas and certain medications.

While not common, if you take certain medications that interact with potassium, such as diuretics and angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, you should limit your consumption of bananas. If you eat a lot of bananas (or other high-potassium foods) and use a drug that can cause an interaction, it’s possible that the potassium levels in your body could rise to a dangerous level.

You should also avoid bananas if you take certain drugs for bacterial infections, such as metronidazole and linezolid. This is because bananas contain an amino acid called tyramine, which may trigger a spike in blood pressure when taken with these medications.

Always speak with a healthcare provider if you have concerns about food-drug interactions.

Summary

While many headlines may have you believe they are high in sugar and carbs and promote weight gain, bananas consumed in moderation are a great addition to any healthy diet. Incorporate bananas mindfully as part of an overall balanced diet that includes a variety of foods. This ensures that you get an array of nutrients your body needs.

A banana or two a day doesn’t have harmful effects for most people. So, if you like them, eat them.

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Singh B, Singh JP, Kaur A, Singh N. Bioactive compounds in banana and their associated health benefits – a review. Food Chem. 2016;206:1-11. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2016.03.033

  2. Weir SBS, Akhondi H. Bland diet. [Updated 2023 Jul 25]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538142/

  3. FoodData Central. Bananas, ripe and slightly ripe, raw.

  4. Amini Khoozani A, Birch J, Bekhit AEA. Production, application and health effects of banana pulp and peel flour in the food industry. J Food Sci Technol. 2019;56(2):548-559. doi:10.1007/s13197-018-03562-z

  5. Baker LB, Wolfe AS. Physiological mechanisms determining eccrine sweat composition. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2020;120(4):719-752. doi:10.1007/s00421-020-04323-7

  6. Singh B, Singh JP, Kaur A, Singh N. Bioactive compounds in banana and their associated health benefits – A review. Food Chem. 2016;206:1-11. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2016.03.033

  7. Food and Drug Administration. Frequently asked questions for industry on nutrition facts labeling requirements.

  8. World Health Organization. Healthy diet.

  9. Mela DJ, Woolner EM. Perspective: total, added, or free? What kind of sugars should we be talking about?. Adv Nutr. 2018;9(2):63-69. doi:10.1093/advances/nmx020

  10. Muraki I, Imamura F, Manson JE, et al. Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies [published correction appears in BMJ. 2013;347:f6935]. BMJ. 2013;347:f5001. doi:10.1136/bmj.f5001

  11. Falcomer AL, Riquette RFR, de Lima BR, Ginani VC, Zandonadi RP. Health benefits of green banana consumption: a systematic review. Nutrients. 2019;11(6):1222. doi:10.3390/nu11061222

  12. Choi JH, Ko CM. Food and drug interactions. J Lifestyle Med. 2017;7(1):1-9. doi:10.15280/jlm.2017.7.1.1

  13. Consumer Reports. Food and Drug Interactions You Need to Know About.


By Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD

Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD, is a plant-based dietitian, writer, and speaker who specializes in helping people bring more plants to their plate. She’s a highly respected writer in the health and nutrition space and loves talking about the power of diet. Lauren aims to connect people with the information and resources to live their healthiest, fullest life.

link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *