Green Bananas: Health Benefits, Nutrition Facts, And How To Eat

Medically Reviewed by Reda Elmardi, RDN
By Ravi Teja Tadimalla, Professional Certificate In Food, Nutrition & Health

Yellow bananas are an inseparable part of a healthy diet, and many consume them for the benefits they offer. Green bananas are their ripe version. The benefits of green bananas are numerous and are gaining the attention of many health enthusiasts. While these may differ in composition, taste, and texture from yellow bananas, the benefits they offer are similar (1).

For people with obesity or diabetes, green bananas serve as an excellent addition to their diet because of their high resistant starch and fiber content.

Green banana flour is used to make pasta, which is gluten-free. It is perfect for those who are on a gluten-free diet. The flour may also manage celiac disease to some extent (2).

Learn more about green bananas, their benefits, and how they compare with yellow bananas. Read on.

Green Vs. Yellow Bananas

Green bananas contain some additional nutrients and benefits when compared with yellow bananas. And the presence of pectin and resistant starch in green bananas may help lower blood glucose levels and boost digestive system function.

In addition, 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.
  • Green bananas are rich in vitamins A, C, E, B6, and K. They are also high in fiber, iron, calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, manganese, and folate.
  • Yellow bananas have higher levels of vitamin C and beta-carotene than green ones. However, they contain less fiber, iron, calcium, and magnesium.
  • Both types of bananas are low in calories and fat.
  • Green bananas are best for baking while yellow bananas are better for eating raw.
  • You can eat both types of bananas at any time of the day.
  • If you want to make banana bread, use only green 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.

5. Are High In Vitamin A

Green bananas are loaded with vitamin A, which helps your body absorb iron from other foods. This means that green bananas can help prevent anemia. In addition, vitamin A has been shown to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.

6. Are Rich In Fiber

Fiber-rich fruits like bananas contain soluble fiber, which makes them easier to digest. Soluble fiber may lower cholesterol levels, according to some studies.

7. Are Loaded With Antioxidants

Green bananas are loaded with antioxidants that help fight free radicals and keep your body healthy. They contain vitamin C, beta-carotene, and other phytonutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin. These compounds are known to protect against cancer, heart disease, cataracts, and age-related vision loss.

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 are an unripe version of yellow bananas. These are rich in many vitamins and minerals that help treat many ailments. The benefits of green bananas can be attributed to their nutritional profile. They may improve digestive health, help lower blood sugar levels, aid in weight loss, and promote cardiovascular health. However, they may cause side effects in some people. Sensitive individuals or those allergic to latex may experience gas and bloating. Hence, practice caution.

Frequently Asked 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.

Sources

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Ravi Teja Tadimalla is an editor and a published author. He has been in the digital media field for over... more

Reda Elmardi

(RDN)
Reda Elmardi is a registered dietician, certified nutritionist, and certified strength and conditioning specialist trainer. He has more than 10... more

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