Bananas are extremely healthy and delicious.
They contain several essential nutrients and provide benefits for digestion, heart health and weight loss.
Aside from being very nutritious, they are also a highly convenient snack food.
Here are 11 science-based health benefits of bananas.
Bananas are among the world’s most popular fruits.
Native to Southeast Asia, they are now grown in many warm parts of the world.
Bananas vary in color, size and shape.
The most common type is the Cavendish, which is a type of dessert banana. Green when unripe, it yellows as it matures.
- Potassium: 9% of the 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
- Net carbs: 24 grams
- Fiber: 3.1 grams
- Protein: 1.3 grams
- Fat: 0.4 grams
Each banana has only about 105 calories and consists almost exclusively of water and carbs. Bananas hold very little protein and almost no fat.
The carbs in green, unripe bananas consist mostly of starch and resistant starch, but as the banana ripens, the starch turns into sugar (glucose, fructose and sucrose).
Bananas are rich in pectin, a type of fiber that gives the flesh its spongy structural form (4).
Unripe bananas contain resistant starch, which acts like soluble fiber and escapes digestion.
Furthermore, bananas also rank low to medium on the glycemic index (GI), which is a measure — from 0–100 — of how quickly foods increase blood sugar levels.
This means that bananas should not cause major spikes in blood sugar levels in healthy individuals.
However, this may not apply to people with type 2 diabetes, who should probably avoid eating a lot of well-ripened bananas — and monitor their blood sugar carefully if they do.
Dietary fiber has been linked to many health benefits, including improved digestion.
A medium-sized banana has about 3 grams of fiber, making bananas a fairly good fiber source (10).
Bananas contain two main types of fiber:
- Pectin: Decreases as the banana ripens.
- Resistant starch: Found in unripe bananas.
No study has directly tested the effects of bananas on weight loss. However, bananas do have several attributes that should make them a weight-loss-friendly-food.
For starters, bananas have relatively few calories. An average banana has just over 100 calories — yet it is also very nutritious and filling.
Potassium is a mineral that is essential for heart health — especially blood pressure control.
Despite its importance, few people get enough potassium in their diet (21).
Bananas are a great dietary source of potassium. One medium-sized banana (118 grams) contains 9% of the RDI.
Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of dietary antioxidants, and bananas are no exception.
However, it is a common misunderstanding that the dopamine from bananas acts as a feel-good chemical in your brain.
Resistant starch is a type of indigestible carb — found in unripe bananas and other foods — which functions like soluble fiber in your body.
As a rule of thumb, you can estimate that the greener the banana, the higher its resistant starch content (31).
On the other hand, yellow, ripe bananas contain lower amounts of resistant starch and total fiber — but proportionally higher amounts of soluble fiber.
Insulin resistance is a major risk factor for many of the world’s most serious diseases, including type 2 diabetes.
Unripe bananas are a great source of resistant starch. Therefore, they may help improve insulin sensitivity.
More studies should be conducted on bananas and insulin sensitivity.
Potassium is essential for blood pressure control and healthy kidney function.
As a good dietary source of potassium, bananas may be especially beneficial for maintaining healthy kidneys.
One 13-year study in women determined that those who ate bananas 2–3 times per week were 33% less likely to develop kidney disease (
Bananas are often referred to as the perfect food for athletes largely due to their mineral content and easily digested carbs.
Eating bananas may help reduce exercise-related muscle cramps and soreness, which affect up to 95% of the general population (
However, research gives mixed findings about bananas and muscle cramps. While some studies find them helpful, others find no effects (
That said, bananas do provide excellent nutrition before, during and after endurance exercise (
Not only are bananas incredibly healthy — they’re also one of the most convenient snack foods around.
Bananas make a great addition to yogurt, cereal and smoothies. You can even use them instead of sugar in your baking and cooking.
Furthermore, bananas rarely contain any pesticides or pollutants due to their thick protective peel.
Bananas are incredibly easy to eat and transport. They are usually well-tolerated and easily digested — they simply have to be peeled and eaten.
It doesn’t get much easier than that.
Bananas are a popular fruit that happens to provide numerous health benefits.
Among other things, they may boost digestive and heart health due to their fiber and antioxidant content.
They may even aid weight loss, as they’re relatively low-calorie and nutrient-dense.
Ripe bananas are a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth. What’s more, both yellow and green bananas can keep you healthy and feeling full.