Dieters looking to lose weight are often told to eat more vegetables and fruits. That makes a lot of sense because veggies and fruits are generally low in calories but high in vitamins and minerals.
However, some vegetables and fruits are better than others. For example, starchy potatoes may not be the best food for weight loss. Bananas are another food that a lot of dieters are told to avoid. But are bananas and weight loss really so incompatible?
Are Bananas Bad for Weightloss?
The truth is that bananas, like so most unprocessed vegetables and fruits (and that includes the dreaded potato), can be part of your diet, even if you are trying to lose weight. That doesn’t mean you can eat them with abandon, but a few bananas a week won’t automatically derail your diet.
In fact, they could even help you reach your target weight more quickly and easily. Keep reading to get the low-down on one of the most popular fruits in the world!
Nutritional Facts of Bananas
Bananas taste good, are portable, and easy to eat. The skin comes off easily, so you can peel them without having to use a knife. This means bananas have mass appeal. They also have a lot to offer nutritionally.
Bananas come in all shapes and sizes, and their nutritional status changes as they ripen. A ripe banana contains more fruit sugar (fructose) than one that is less ripe. Less ripe bananas are lower in sugar but higher in starchy carbs.
The riper a banana is, the higher its glycemic index will be. The glycemic index of a food indicates how quickly it will be digested and how much of an impact it has on your blood glucose levels. If you want to prevent a big carb rush, you should avoid overripe bananas.
That said, an average medium-sized banana provides:
Bananas, like most fruit, offer several valuable health benefits. Those benefits include:
Heart health – heart disease is the most common cause of premature death. It’s characterized by the narrowing of the arteries that keep the heart supplied with blood.
Potassium, a mineral that bananas are rich in, is very good for heart health and can also help lower blood pressure. Consuming adequate amounts of potassium is linked to a significantly lower risk of heart disease.
As well as potassium, bananas also contain antioxidants, which also contribute to a healthier heart.
Digestive health – bananas contain several substances that are good for your intestinal and digestive health. Fiber adds bulk to feces, allowing waste to pass more easily along your digestive tract, leading to less constipation.
In addition, bananas are a source of resistant starch, which, in your gut, ferment and form a substance called butyrate, which is a short-chain fatty acid linked to improved gut health.
Bananas also contain prebiotics and probiotics, which enhance the health of your “good” gut bacteria. These bacteria are not just good for your digestive system, but for your body as a whole, as it plays an integral part in the function of your immune system.
Bananas are rarely unhealthy. Some people report that they cause constipation, but this is very rare. In contrast, with their high fiber content, bananas should have the opposite effect. Very ripe bananas are high in fruit sugar and could cause your blood glucose levels to rise quickly.
However, even the ripest banana only contains a few grams of sugar, so this should not present much of an issue for most people. That said, people with type II diabetes should probably avoid eating too many ripe bananas so that they do not cause their blood glucose to spike unnecessarily.
A very small number of people are allergic to bananas. If you have such an allergy, you should not eat any type of banana.
Are They Bad for Weight Loss?
Any food can be bad for weight loss when consumed in excess, and that includes bananas. But, at only about 100 calories per medium-sized portion, the occasional banana should not interfere with weight loss or cause weight gain.
After all, a candy bar weighing about the same as a banana has over twice the calories, no fiber, and no vitamins or minerals. By comparison, a banana is a much healthier option. That said, if you eat several bananas per day, it could mean you are consuming too many calories.
However, this problem is not unique to bananas; eating too much lettuce, too many apples, or drinking too much soda will have the exact same effect!
Eating bananas instead of candy and other high calories snacks could actually help you lose weight. Bananas are low in calories and contain an abundance of fiber. Fiber keeps you feeling fuller for longer.
As such, it could stop you from overeating at your next meal. Eaten in sensible moderation, bananas won’t lead to weight gain and could actually help you lose weight.
Varieties of Bananas
Did you know that bananas are a type of berry and that there are over 1000 varieties of this tasty, healthy foodstuff? Bananas can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, and the most common types are:
These bananas are too tough to eat raw. They are generally boiled, fried, baked, or roasted. Cooking them breaks down the robust polysaccharides into mono and disaccharides to make them more digestible.
Food Safety and Storage
Dessert bananas are usually harvested while they are still green and unripe. That’s so they can be transported without spoiling. They then ripen gradually, turning yellow and then brown as they do so. Remember, the riper a banana is, the more sugar it contains, and the sweeter it will taste.
Bananas will ripen naturally on your kitchen counter and at room temperature. You can then eat it when it reaches your preferred ripeness. If you want to slow the ripening process, put your bananas in the fridge. The skin will turn black, but the fruit inside will remain fresh for a week or more.
You can ripen your bananas faster by placing them in a brown paper bag with an apple. Alternatively, if you want to preserve your bananas for longer, peel and then freeze them. You can use them frozen in smoothies or allow them to defrost and then use them in recipes like banana bread.
While a lot of people are worried about eating bananas while trying to lose weight, there really is no reason to avoid this popular fruit. Bananas do contain more calories than the average apple or orange, but it’s not so many more than eating a few per week will derail your weight loss efforts.
In reality, bananas are low in calories, high in fiber, and contain lots of useful vitamins and minerals, making them very healthy. The advantages and benefits of eating bananas far outweigh any potential drawbacks.
With less than half the calories of a similar-sized candy bar, they’re a portable, tasty snack that will keep you feeling fuller for longer. There are dessert bananas that are naturally sweet and cooking bananas too, so you don’t even have to limit yourself to the same old yellow varieties.
In conclusion, even if you are trying to lose weight, there is no reason not to include bananas in your diet. They’re healthy, filling, and taste great. However, like any food, if you eat too many bananas, you could gain weight, so make sure you limit your consumption to just 1-2 per day, or even just a few per week if you have a lot of weight to lose.
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