Calories In Bananas
Depending on its size, each banana has 72–135 Cal and a substantial amount of fiber, magnesium, potassium, vitamin B6 and C. Unripe banana is richer in fiber and is great for digestion, blood pressure, and glucose regulation. Instead of buying calorie-rich banana bread, muffins, and pudding and make them at home with healthy subs for sugar and flour. If you are diabetic or a kidney patient, however, go easy on ripe bananas and banana products.
When it comes to fruits, the humble banana is often a universal favorite. After all, it is tasty, filling, and cheap. It is also quite versatile, doubling as snack, dessert, or breakfast ingredient. But for all its benefits, are bananas a calorie-dense dish you should avoid, especially if you’re watching your weight? Here’s finding out if the banana is all it’s cut out to be and if the calories in it are actually worth it!
Calories In A Banana
The number of calories in a banana depends on the size. There’s quite a variety out there, from the smaller Lady Finger, Orito, and Pisang Mas to apple bananas, exotic red bananas, and plantains. Here’s a chart for banana calories.1
By comparison, 1 tub (150 g) of a seemingly healthy low-fat strawberry greek yogurt contains 154 Cal,2 just 42 g trail mix has 194 Cal,3 and a slice of cheddar cheese has 113 Cal.4
For weight watchers, one medium banana, with 105 Cals, is a better option than a tub of low-fat greek yogurt.
Carbohydrates account for 93% of banana calories, fats account for 3%, and proteins account for 4%. So if you’re watching your weight, what makes eating a banana worth the calories?
Simply put, it delivers a lot of nutrition per calorie you have. It’s also filling without being sinful, containing 0.9 to 1.7 g protein, 18.5 to 34.7 g carbohydrates, just 0.27 to 0.5 g fat, and zero cholesterol. It’s enough to give you a healthy boost of energy, making it a perfect snack or breakfast addition5 rather than a packaged snack or even a slice of cheese which will contain saturated fats. While the carb percentage might look alarming, consider the following factors.
Health Benefits Of Eating A Banana
Bananas Are High In Fiber And Keep You Full Longer
Bananas contain a good amount of fiber – about 3.1 g in a medium-sized fruit. Larger bananas may contain as much as 3.5 to 4 g fiber.6 This will keep you feeling full longer and you won’t crave another nibble too quickly.7
Bananas Contain Essential Vitamins
You can also fuel up on 28% of your vitamin B6 requirement of 1.3 g for the day with these yellow goodies.8 And how can we forget about the vitamin C? For a fruit that isn’t sour or tart, it’s got a pretty impressive vitamin C arsenal, with about 7 to 13.2 mg vitamin C – which meets 9–17% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for women and 7.7–14.6% for men. That’s how it helps your immune system.
Bananas Have A Heart-Healthy Potassium-Sodium Ratio
What makes bananas a health food is the fact that they have a high potassium and sodium ratio, with 290 to 544 mg of potassium (8–16% RDA) and negligible amounts of sodium. A high potassium low sodium ratio helps keep your blood pressure from rising and your heart healthy.
Bananas also contain 22 to 41 mg of magnesium, meeting 5 to 10% of your daily requirement, and 18 to 33 mg of phosphorus, meeting 2 to 3% of the RDA.
Unripe Bananas Improve Digestion
If you have the bananas before they ripen, more benefits await you! That is because unripe bananas are richer in fiber load as they contain more resistant starch,9 that is the kind of starch that can’t be fully digested. As the bananas ripen, the starch changes into sugar.
Unripe banana contains difficult-to-digest starch that serves as fiber and helps improve digestion and eventually diabetes.
Resistant starch acts like fiber in your body and helps digestive function by feeding and balancing microbial flora. These starches also help transport probiotic organisms in the upper gut, helping improve immunity and suppressing pathogenic organisms, too.10
Unripe Bananas Lower Cholesterol And Improve Glucose Tolerance
Cholesterol levels and diabetes can also improve thanks to resistant starch.11Pectin – which is a starch that gives the unripe banana its firmness – slows gastric emptying and improves glucose tolerance.12
Calories In Banana Products
While bananas are healthful, banana products made with refined flour are not. Besides having a higher calorie count, they are usually high in fat and sugar and low in fiber.
Just 1 slice of banana bread can cost you 196 Cal. It also takes the fat count up to 6 g (9% RDA), cholesterol up to 25.8 mg (8%), and sodium from a negligible amount to a whopping 181.2 mg (7%).13 It’s best to make it at home, replacing the sugar with dates and refined flour with coconut flour. Try this recipe for banana bread bites. Or you may even replace refined flour with flaxseed and almond flour. Here’s the recipe.
Banana pudding made with a regular dry mix yields 366 Cal per 100 g. Half a cup (22 g) would give you 81 Cal, 16 g sugar, 173 mg sodium, and only 4 mg potassium. The calorie count can come down a little if you make it at home with less sugar and salt and cut down on the flour as well.14
Depending on the ingredients used and the company, 100 g of store-bought banana muffins carry 204–425 Cal.15 Make it at home without sugar and salt and replace the flour with ground oats. Oats will add on to the banana fibers. You may add a handful of blueberries for a tart taste. Here’s the recipe.
Not even bananas can make deep fried chips healthy. Frying them in coconut oil might be tad better than in any other oil, but deep frying essentially adds saturated fat to it. Most varieties of store-bought banana chips would give you 350–533 Cal for every 100 g.1617 Bake the chips at home to keep them crunchy sans the fat.
Who Should Say No To Bananas
Diabetics and people with chronic kidney disease should go easy on the bananas.
If you’re eating a healthy balanced diet, bananas make a good addition. However, while they won’t cause major sugar spikes in healthy individuals, diabetics should go easy on the ripe bananas. After all, each fruit can have anywhere from 10 to 18.6 g sugar, though it has a low glycemic index of 48.18
Anyone who has been told to restrict potassium intake, like those with chronic kidney disease, should also avoid eating the fruit.19 For everyone else, it seems like bananas are good news!
References [ + ]
|1, 5, 6.||↑||Bananas, raw . USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28.|
|2.||↑||Yogurt, Greek, strawberry, low fat. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28.|
|3.||↑||Snacks, trail mix, regular. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28.|
|4.||↑||Cheese, cheddar. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28.|
|7.||↑||Burton-Freeman, Britt. “Dietary fiber and energy regulation.” The Journal of nutrition 130, no. 2 (2000): 272S-275S.|
|8.||↑||Vitamin B6. NIH.|
|9.||↑||Which Foods Contain Resistant Starch?. CSIRO.|
|10.||↑||Bird, Anthony R., Ian L. Brown, and David L. Topping. “Starches, resistant starches, the gut microflora and human health.” Current issues in intestinal microbiology 1, no. 1 (2000): 25-37.|
|11.||↑||Fuentes-Zaragoza, E., M. J. Riquelme-Navarrete, E. Sánchez-Zapata, and J. A. Pérez-Álvarez. “Resistant starch as functional ingredient: A review.” Food Research International 43, no. 4 (2010): 931-942.|
|12.||↑||Schwartz, Sheldon E., Robert A. Levine, Ruth S. Weinstock, Susan Petokas, Chrysta A. Mills, and F. D. Thomas. “Sustained pectin ingestion: effect on gastric emptying and glucose tolerance in non-insulin-dependent diabetic patients.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 48, no. 6 (1988): 1413-1417.|
|13.||↑||Bread, Banana, Made from Recipe. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|14.||↑||Puddings, Banana, Dry Mix, Regular. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|15.||↑||Banana Muffins. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|16.||↑||Crunchy Banana Fruit Chips. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|17.||↑||Banana Chips. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|18.||↑||Glycemic index and glycemic load for 100+ foods. Harvard Health Publications.|
|19.||↑||Apples are Okay, but Bananas are not…Top 10 Dialysis Diet Tips. National Kidney Foundation.|