Bananas are among the world’s most popular fruit. They are highly portable and easy to consume, making them a perfect on-the-go snack. Bananas are also fairly nutritious, and contain high amounts of fiber and antioxidants.
However, on a number of occasions, you can hear that eating bananas is actually bad for your health, especially if you are insulin resistant or diabetic. Eating banana on an empty stomach is still debatable. Many throw bananas out of their diet due to the fear of gaining weight.
So, is banana your enemy or best friend?
The Most Common Banana Myths
Here are 5 common banana myths that will make you decide whether or not to eat your favorite fruit.
Myth #1 – Bananas contain too much sugar.
One may hear “You might as well eat a candy bar if you are going to eat a banana”. Well, let’s figure it out.
Your average medium banana contains 14 grams of sugar, which admittedly is not a small amount. One ounce of dark chocolate also contains 14 grams of sugar. The difference is that a banana’s sugar is entirely natural, while the chocolate’s sugar is all added sugars.
What makes them different? Bananas contain, on average, 3 grams of fiber, which slows the absorption of sugar into our blood. Some of this fiber comes from pectins, which further slows the digestion of carbohydrates, lessening a blood glucose (sugar) spike. If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or have been told that your blood sugar is a little high, you can still enjoy bananas. To lessen the sugar spike, pair a banana with protein and healthy fat such as a nut or seed butter or yogurt.
But keep this in mind: Even if you do snack only on fruit, it’s very different from eating a candy bar! A banana contains tons of other vitamins and minerals, fiber and even over 1 gram of protein!
Myth #2 – Bananas make you fat.
You might be told that bananas shouldn’t be eaten after 3 pm or included in a slimming diet.
In fact, at around 100 calories, a banana contains less than half a gram of fat. It is true that when excess sugar is digested and absorbed it can be stored as fat, but if you’re eating when you’re hungry and not overeating, this will definitely not happen from eating a 100-calorie banana.
There is no reason why anyone who is slimming is not allowed to eat bananas. On average, bananas provide 6,1% of the daily energy requirement for adult women when trying to lose weight. Banana can thus be used as an excellent snack or as one of your fruit servings in a balanced slimming diet. Firm slightly green bananas have a lower glycaemic index than soft, ripe ones.
As to not eating bananas after a certain time of day, well there is no logic to this prohibition either. Bananas contain hardly any fat and as a mainly carbohydrate fruit, can be easily digested and absorbed by the human body.
Gobbling down a banana can give you instant energy and can be the best pre-workout option. However, moderation is the key. Though bananas would not leave you with an inflated belly, broadened waist and bulky thighs but to be frank, you need to use up the energy you get from any food. If you eat bananas in excess then the extra glucose might get converted into fat. So watch out for the number of bananas you have been chowing down each day.
Myth #3 – Bananas are a poor choice.
Perhaps you have heard that bananas are a poor choice of fruit. The reason for this is unclear – bananas just seem to get a bad rap in the world fruit.
The reality is that they are actually very similar in composition to other popular and less criticized fruit. For example, a banana and a medium apple both contain about 100 calories and less than 0.5 grams of fat. The apple has 19 grams of sugar and less protein than a banana. A cup of seedless grapes contains 23 grams of sugar and less protein and fiber than a banana.
Banana is a versatile fruit and is packed with the goodness of various nutrients:
- Calories – 110 kcals
- Carbohydrates – 25 gms
- Proteins – 1 gm
- Potassium – 50 mg
- Dietary Fiber – 3 gms
- Vitamin C – 15% of the daily requirement.
- Vitamin B6 – 22% of the daily requirement.
Yes, there are fruits that contain less sugar than a banana (such as berries, citrus fruits and melon), but bananas are portable, inexpensive and highly accessible. And please mark that bananas do not contain sodium, fats and cholesterol.
Myth #4 – You shouldn’t eat bananas on an empty stomach.
Of all the meals, breakfast is touted to be the most important one, which should be eaten like a king, including wholesome and nutritious ingredients in the platter. However, most often, it ends up becoming a meal on the go and we tend to grab one of the easiest options, which is a banana, as it requires no washing.
But are bananas really as healthy as they are often touted to be?
According to various sources, we find that bananas, are not a good option to consume on an empty stomach. Some of the reasons include:
- The high amount of natural sugars present in bananas that boost energy could also make you feel drained after a few hours.
- Bananas temporarily fill you up leaving you sleepy and fatigued.
- Bananas are acidic in nature; hence, it may cause bowel problems if consumed on an empty stomach.
So, one must avoid consuming fruits in the morning on an empty stomach. Technically, not only banana, but fruits should be avoided. Nowadays, natural fruits are hard to find. What we buy is artificially grown and should not be taken right in the morning.
One way to avoid consuming fruits directly can be mixing it with other foods so that the effect subsides with nutrients in them. It is alright to have a banana first thing in the morning but by teaming it with other foods. You should plan your breakfast carefully by mixing and matching different ingredients to start off the day in a healthy manner.
Myth #5 – Health claims.
A whole load of banana supporters make a number of health claims, namely that eating a banana can lower cholesterol, soothe an upset stomach and diarrhoea, and provide immediate relief from hangovers, and premenstrual syndrome. The tryptophan in bananas is also credited with promoting sleep. Then, that bananas have positive effects in relation to the following ailments: anaemia, blood pressure, bowel problems, constipation, depression, heart problems, morning sickness, nervous disorders, stress, and ulcers.
Anyone reading this would conclude that bananas are the solution to every ailment and problem known to mankind, and that they are bursting with nutrients.
Each food can make a contribution to our nutritive intake and our health and if we eat a balanced diet that contains a variety of different foods, then as omnivores we humans will stand the best chance of surviving and keeping healthy.
In keeping with the above, the first and most important South African Food-Based Dietary Guideline states “Eat a variety of foods”. So it stands to reason that a single food, such as the banana, doesn’t hold the key to curing or preventing all the diseases listed above.
Considering all of the above mentioned, you can incorporate bananas in your diet next ways:
- Consume it as a pre-workout meal or add it your bowl of oats along with milk and few nuts, not only would you be able to workout efficiently but you would not feel drained off energy easily.
- Bananas can be your breakfast partner. Add it to your pancake batter, muesli, mixed fruit bowl, overnight oats and smoothie. Breakfast never felt so good.
- It is a great snacking option and can be consumed as a mid-morning or evening snack.
Though eating a banana is healthy and does not lead to weight gain, it is essential to stick to 1 or 2 bananas in a day. You can always add banana and a couple of other fruits to a bowl and consume an assortment of fruits. Never stick to just one single fruit, try and experiment….so eat different fruits, as each fruit has its own benefits which you would definitely not wish to miss.
Hence proved that you need not run away from banana if you are looking to lose weight! However, remember anything in moderation is good and no specific food is good or bad. Banana can not only give you instant energy but rest assured it can boost your mood and take some stress away. So fret not a banana is your friend and should be a part of your daily diet.