We are familiar with yellow bananas and consume them regularly for their rich nutritional profile. Green bananas, however, are their unripe cousins. They are slightly different in taste, texture, and composition. But green bananas have similar health benefits to offer (1).
Green bananas can have a higher content of resistant starch and fiber. This unique composition makes them a good alternative to people with diabetes or who are overweight.
Pasta made with green banana flour is ideal for those on a gluten-free diet. It also may help treat celiac disease (2).
In this article, we will explore the differences between green and yellow bananas and the health benefits of the former. Read on.
Table Of Contents
Green Vs. Yellow Bananas
Green and yellow bananas differ in color, texture, and taste. Their composition is also slightly different.
- As the banana ripens, the color of the peel turns from green to yellow.
- The high sugar content in yellow bananas gives them a sweet taste, while the green bananas are slightly bitter.
- As bananas ripen, their texture also changes drastically. From being firm, they turn mushy. Green bananas are firm and waxy as compared to yellow bananas.
- The composition is what attributes to these differences. Green bananas contain higher quantities of fiber and resistant starch. These get converted to sugar in yellow bananas.
In the following section, we will look at the nutrients in green bananas.
Green Banana Nutrition
Green bananas have a similar nutritional profile as that of yellow bananas. Various factors, such as the maturation stage, local production, and growing conditions, affect their nutritional value. They have 2-3 g of fiber and 80% of their carbohydrate content is made of resistant starch or complex carbohydrates (1).
A green or yellow medium-sized banana (100 grams) contains 2.6 g of fiber, 22.84 g of carbohydrates, 358 mg of potassium, 5 mg of calcium, 27 mg of magnesium, 22 µg of lutein and zeaxanthin, 20 µg of folate, and 8.7 mg of vitamin C. They are also rich in vitamin C (3).
Green bananas are replete with nutrients. They are especially rich in resistant starch, which, along with other minerals, offers important health benefits.
Health Benefits Of Green Bananas
1. May Improve Digestive Health
Traditionally, green bananas are known to alleviate the symptoms of constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and other gastrointestinal issues.
Green bananas are rich in fiber. The nutrient helps in bulking up the stool and improving bowel movements. This improves the digestive process and prevents constipation. It also helps in reducing the risk of colon cancer (4).
Resistant starch is made of complex carbohydrates and is broken in the gut. This fiber acts as a prebiotic for the gut microbiome. The bacteria that live in the gut use this fiber and convert it into important nutrients that the body can use. Among such byproducts are the short-chain fatty acids, like butyrate (5).
Green bananas may be good for both constipation and diarrhea. Research studies have found that they could be therapeutic for children with recurring diarrhea (6). A rat study suggests that green bananas may be potentially active against mucosal lesions in the stomach (7).
2. May Help Lower Blood Sugar
Green bananas, and fruits, in general, have a low glycemic index (around 30). Hence, eating them is helpful in managing blood sugar levels (8).
Foods with a low glycemic index release sugars slowly into the bloodstream. Sudden spikes in sugar levels could lead to the risk of diabetes and other metabolic disorders like cardiovascular disease.
People with diabetes are recommended to prefer unripe green bananas over ripe yellow ones. Both pectin and resistant starch in green bananas help in controlling sugar levels in the blood. This leads to a better insulin metabolism, especially for those with diabetes. (9), (10).
In rat studies, green bananas and their products (such as green banana flour or starch) were found to help in improving insulin sensitivity (11).
3. May Aid Weight Loss
Green bananas have a high content of fiber and resistant starch. This makes them a wholesome filling snack that keeps hunger at bay (10).
Eating fibre-rich food increases satiety levels, and the high pectin content of the green bananas fills your stomach (12). This helps in reducing the chances of overeating. The body does not consume excess calories that would otherwise lead to weight gain.
Dietary fiber is linked to a reduced risk of obesity. Resistant starch helps in increasing satiety and is linked to weight loss (13), (14). Pectin has been found to delay gastric emptying and increase satiety in obese subjects (15).
Green banana flour is found to reduce hunger and help in glucose homeostasis. The flour is also linked with lower quantities of ghrelin (the hunger regulating hormone) and regulated insulin levels (16).
In a study involving women with higher than average weight, consuming green banana flour lead to an improved lipid profile and body composition. The flour could also combat inflammation (17).
4. May Help Promote Cardiovascular Health
Cardiovascular diseases are metabolic disorders. Obesity, diabetes, and heart disease are closely related. Raw bananas are a good source of resistant starch. According to animal studies, resistant starch helps keep cholesterol in check (18). Low cholesterol levels are linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
Green bananas have also been linked to lowered sugar levels. They are found to be beneficial for people with diabetes (1).
Green bananas are rich in potassium. The mineral is a vasodilator. It helps in regulating the blood pressure levels in the body (19).
Green bananas are a healthy option for certain individuals. However, not all would be able to include them in their diet.
Can Green Bananas Cause Side Effects?
Green bananas are generally considered safe for consumption. However, individuals who have a sensitive stomach or are prone to allergies may experience some discomfort. Some such symptoms may include bloating and gas.
Green bananas can trigger allergies in people who are allergic to latex. This is probably because they share the same allergy-causing proteins. This condition is referred to as latex fruit syndrome (20).
Eating green bananas the right way may reduce the risk of these side effects in some cases.
How To Eat Green Bananas
Green bananas are raw. They may be a little harder to peel, but they make for a great snack. You can use them in your smoothies and yogurts. You can freeze them and coat them with dark chocolate. You may also use green banana flour to make pasta.
Green bananas can have important benefits for your health. They are a good source of prebiotic fiber and help in improving the gut bacterial population. This can boost digestive health.
Green bananas can also be good for people with diabetes. Their relatively low glycemic index and high content of fiber and resistant starch play a role here. They help lower glucose and cholesterol levels in the blood.
Once in a while, you can replace yellow bananas with green bananas and reap their health benefits.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Do green bananas have carbs?
Green bananas are a rich source of carbohydrates that are present in the form of resistant starch and fiber.
Can people with diabetes eat green bananas?
Yes, people with diabetes can eat them. These bananas have a low glycemic index. They also contain resistant starch that helps in improving sugar levels in the blood.
Are green bananas hard to digest?
Yes, they are a little hard to digest due to their resistant starch content. However, the bacteria in the gut can help digest them. Hence, they are safe to eat.
Are green bananas high in iron?
An average green banana (100 g) contains 0.26 mg of iron. Since it also has good quantities of other vitamins such as B6 and C, it helps with iron absorption.
Do green bananas make you constipated?
Traditionally, they are recommended for curing constipation as the fiber helps in stool movement. However, the complex starches may be hard to digest for certain individuals. There is no conclusive study to support the claim.
How long do green bananas last?
They take 3-5 days to ripen.
How much sugar does a green banana have?
An average green banana (100 g) has about 12 g of sugar. Most of it is starch.
How many bananas can someone with diabetes eat per day?
Eating bananas in moderation is important. One or two bananas a day should be the upper limit. Consult a doctor before including green bananas in your diet if you have diabetes.
What are the benefits of eating boiled green bananas?
Boiled green bananas are rich in resistant starch that helps in digestion. Boiling helps in breaking down the complex carbohydrates, making the bananas easier to digest.
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