When something is good, we sometimes find ourselves feeling suspicious that it’s not only good, but too good to be true.
Bananas are delicious. They are good. They’re rich, creamy, and possess the same satisfying mouth feel as the guiltiest of desserts. So if bananas are good, are they also too good to be true? If they taste like a dessert, they must be fattening, right?
Banana Nutrition Facts
Judging by the raw data, bananas, by definition are not what I’d consider fattening. According to the Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture one large banana contains less that a half of a gram of fat per serving. Yes, that’s right, a half of a gram. Compare that half of a gram to your average slice of cheesecake dessert with around 18 grams of fat. Even a modest and simple sugar cookie has around 5 grams of fat. So, when compared to its dessert counterparts, the banana is an incredibly healthy option.
So, why in the world would bananas earn the reputation of being fattening? According to nutrition writer Frank Billings, that reputation is probably due to the Glycemic Index of bananas. The Glycemic Index (GI) is used to give an idea of the speed at which different carbohydrates are converted to pure sugar inside the body. The more sugar, the higher the index. And apparently bananas rank pretty high on that index, at 52 out of 100, bananasfatteningtruth.com.
But as long as you don’t eat several bananas a day, your sugar intake will take only a minor hit. Bananas only have around 100 total calories and that’s including the calories from sugar.
And even with banana’s somewhat high Glycemic Index, many argue they shouldn’t be bashed or avoided at all considering the other health benefits packed within. The list of benefits is not a short one. They are full of vitamins and healthy goodness. The George Mateljan Foundation shares the good news of bananas as a decent source of:
If you’re an active person, you should definitely think twice before calling bananas fattening and tossing them aside. Weight loss coach Cynthia Sass, from Shape Magazine cites a study in which bananas are compared to energy drinks. Apparently, bananas eaten during workouts affect the athletes’ performances in a similar way as the sports drink does. And, even better, the bananas give added antioxidants and are made up of a better blend of sugars (natural) than the sports drink.
Even CNN has a say on the current state of bananas. Although they have 14 grams of sugar, CNN reminds us of the fiber content of bananas. The fiber helps us to feel full and keeps us from over eating due to a frisky appetite. CNN also gives us a little more information on why bananas may be good for athletes. Because bananas have magnesium and potassium, they help to us to replenish our magnesium and potassium levels when we sweat (and lose) the same nutrients.
But what about compared to other fruits and vegetables? Is it fattening among its healthy friends? The USDA gives us some figures from which to compare.
- A large apple has around 23 grams of sugar and .38 grams of fat.
- A Florida orange has almost 17 grams of sugar and .39 grams of fat.
- A large pear has a bit more than 22 grams of sugar and .32 grams of fat.
- And remember, the large banana has less than 17 grams of sugar and .45 grams of fat.
So, really, all fruit should be eaten with nutritional awareness and with sugar content in mind. And while there isn’t necessarily a good type of sugar, there are better sugary foods than others. A food that provides more than just the sugar is better than a pure sugar piece of candy. Fruits, while somewhat high in sugar also give you antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and many other tasty reasons to accept their sugar content along with their benefits.
Eating Bananas for Weight Loss
Okay, so we’ve established that bananas are not fattening, in the dessert sense of the word, and while they only contain a modest amount of fat, they do hold a significant amount of sugar. So if bananas don’t single handedly make us gain weight, do they then accomplish the opposite? Do they help us to lose weight?
Perhaps, to answer this question, we should go back to banana’s fiber content. According to Diet Health Club, which also cites bananas vitamin and nutrient content, “banana is a fruit ideal for those looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight”. They refer to the banana’s role in improving the basal metabolic rate (BMR) thanks to their fiber and potassium. The Diet Health Club certainly takes a holistic outlook on banana’s role in our health. They also discuss the connection between healthy blood and circulation (improved by the potassium in bananas) and weight loss.
So, when considering the fate of bananas in your diet, it’s best to consider your own unique nutritional needs, the rest of your diet habits, and your portion sizes; and, as always, consult your physician or nutritionist before making drastic changes to your health regimen.
For other ways to use a banana (without ingestion), check out this article Banana Hair Mask – Using Banana for Hair Growth.
Other Amazing Benefits of Bananas