Why You Should Go Ape Over Bananas

Health & Wellness, Nutrition


Although often shunned by low carb advocates, bananas provide a power punch of vitamins and minerals that make this fruit a staple for my patients interested in overall health.  While a medium sized banana contains 100-110 calories including a reasonable number of carbs (26-28 grams/ 3 grams of fiber) you may be surprised to learn that the number of carbs is not different when compared to a medium sized apple or pear. Importantly, the type of carb in a banana (simple/complex) depends upon firmness and ripeness.   Unripe or green bananas contain “resistant” starches that are processed into sugars at the slowest rate.  This is followed by firm yellow bananas that I recommend to my patients based on taste and relatively slow conversion to blood glucose.  Soft or overripe bananas have a higher concentration of simple sugars than firmer bananas, lead to a more rapid increase in blood glucose levels and should be avoided if you have diabetes.   I also recommend refrigeration for yellow (not green) bananas to prevent them from becoming too soft and overripe.  In addition to the health benefits of fiber on digestive health, there are other reasons why bananas should be consumed daily (see below). Perhaps we should add “a banana a day” to “an apple a day”…. to keep us MDs away!

  1. Potassium and Magnesium enriched:  A medium-sized banana contains 422 mg of potassium and 32 mg of magnesium, ranking it 5th among top fruit sources for potassium and 3rd for magnesium.  (See the complete list in “Heal Your Heart…”).
  2. Folate and Vitamin B6 enriched:  Once again, bananas rank among the highest in content of these important vitamins that help to boost mood by regulating dopamine release and increasing brain levels of serotonin that in turn also help to ward off depression.
  3. Antioxidant enriched.  Bananas contain a host of antioxidants including the flavonoids, catechins, quercetin and rutin, 3 compounds with potent anti-inflammatory properties that combat tumor cells and promote cardiovascular health.

Michael Miller, MD is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland USA where he takes care of patients, conducts original research and teaches medical students.  His most recent book “Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease” has been Amazon’s #1 Rated book in Heart Disease for 3 consecutive years.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s