Ripe yellow bananas are a great energy snack not fit for diabetics. They are high in natural sugars and antioxidants, are easily digested, and produce immunity-boosting TNF (tumor necrosis factor). Unripe green bananas are rich in nutrients, contain resistant starch and are low in sugar. Unlike ripe bananas, they are apt for diabetics and weight loss strivers. Take your pick!
A popular, affordable fruit, a staple food crop especially in the tropical and subtropical countries, and a powerhouse of nutrients – the humble banana has a huge fan following across the world, and with good reason too. But when is the best time to consume it? There is definitely a difference in nutritional content between unripe green bananas and ripe yellow bananas. Here are the factors that can help you decide which one is better for you.
Nutrition In Bananas
Bananas are a great source of essential vitamins and minerals. They contain a decent amount of fiber, are very low in protein and fat, and are sources of antioxidants such as dopamine and catechin. And at about 90 calories for a medium banana, they make a great snack. A medium-sized banana contains the following nutrients:
- Potassium: 9% of the Recommended Daily Calorie Intake (RDI)
- Vitamin B6: 33% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 11% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 8% of the RDI
- Copper: 10% of the RDI
- Manganese: 14% of the RDI
- Fiber: 3.1 grams1, 2, 3
What Causes Bananas To Ripen?
Bananas can move quickly from firm with a green peel to soft with a mottled yellow and brown peel. For this to happen, several processes are at work on both the chemical and nutritional value of the fruit, as well as on the texture of the peel.
Bananas, like other fruits, ripen by virtue of a hormone called ethylene. As bananas ripen, ethylene converts complex sugars into simple sugars and breaks down pectin, a substance that keeps bananas hard. And just as changes take place inside, shifts in the composition of the peel simultaneously occur outside. Hormones break down the green pigments in unripe bananas and replace them with yellow pigments.
As the banana continues to ripen, the pigments in the peels are also broken down. But while the green pigments are replaced by yellow ones, the process stops there. The yellow pigment is not replaced, which leads to the browning of the peel.4
Which Type Of Banana Is Better For You?
- Yellow bananas are high in natural sugars such as sucrose, glucose, and fructose.
- Yellow bananas are easier to digest because the resistant starch changes to simple sugar when a banana ripens. The higher glycemic index of ripe bananas also leads to quick digestion.
- Bananas have higher levels of antioxidants as they ripen.
- Fully ripened bananas produce a substance called Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF), which means that the darker the spots on a banana peel, the higher its immunity enhancement quality. Also, the darker the spots, the more powerful the bananas are at killing cancer and abnormal cells. A ripe banana is 8 times more effective in boosting the body’s immune system than a green banana.
- Studies show that there is evident micronutrient loss as a banana ripens 7.
- The riper the banana, the higher the sugar content. This high sugar content makes ripe bananas something Type 2 diabetics should certainly avoid.
- Green bananas are a good source of nutrients such as potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. They are especially suitable for people on low-carb diets, helping meet their nutritional needs.
- A superstar ingredient in green bananas is resistant starch, which has a host of health benefits. People suffering from type 2 diabetes can eat unripe green bananas because of its resistant starch content 8.
- If you are trying to avoid foods with high sugar content, then green bananas are the better option. They are ideal for weight loss as well. The resistant starch makes you feel fuller and helps you burn fat more quickly9.
- Resistant starch has been linked to several other health benefits such as improved colon health, better blood lipid profile, and reduced insulin resistance. All benefits packed into an unripe banana! 10, 11, 12
- Green bananas help you absorb nutrients better, calcium in particular.
- The bitter taste and waxy texture of an unripe banana are its most obvious drawbacks.
- Because antioxidant levels actually go up as the banana “ages”, unripe bananas are of lower quality in this regard.
- Green bananas contain proteins that limit your body’s ability to digest complex carbohydrates.
- Green bananas may cause some bloating and gas due to the higher resistant starch content.
Both green and ripe bananas have benefits when consumed in moderation. The differentiator in this case might be the profile of the person eating them. Green bananas work better for a type 2 diabetic or someone trying to avoid excess sugar. If you are working on losing weight or building lean muscle then you should stick to green bananas. Yellow banana, on the other hand, is an ideal snack and source of energy and can make a great pre-workout and post-workout food.
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