9 Red Banana Benefits And How They Are Different From Yellow

All the reasons why you must switch from the regular bananas to this variant ASAP.

Medically reviewed by Janelle Bigelman, MS, RDN Janelle Bigelman Janelle BigelmanMS, RDN facebook_iconlinkedin_iconinsta_icon
Written by , BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Ravi Teja Tadimalla BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health linkedin_icon Experience: 8 years
Edited by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Arshiya Syeda BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , BTech (Biotechnology), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach Sindhu Koganti BTech (Biotechnology), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 6 years
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Red bananas are popularly known as “Red Dacca” and are scientifically called Musa acuminate. The benefits of red bananas can be attributed to their rich nutritional profile. They belong to a subgroup of bananas in Southeast Asia. They have a red outer peel and taste similar to raspberries.

protip_icon Did You Know?
The red banana is believed to have originated in the Indo-Malaysian region. It then spread to Africa, Southeast Asia, and Northern America through trading passages. In fact, red bananas were introduced to America around the 20th century only.

These bananas offer an array of health benefits. They aid in digestion, lower blood glucose levels, and boost immunity.

This post discusses the many other benefits of red bananas and if they can be a perfect substitute for yellow bananas. Can they be a perfect substitute for yellow bananas? Continue reading to find out how a red banana benefits your health.

protip_icon Know Your Ingredient: Red Banana

What Is It?
A banana with a red outer peel and that tastes like raspberries.

What Are Its Benefits?
It can help treat osteoporosis and kidney stones, improve immunity and digestion, and lower blood glucose levels.

Who Can Consume It?
Everyone can eat it as long as they are not allergic

How Often?
2 to 3 bananas a day is enough.

Caution
People on hypertensive medications should avoid eating red bananas.

9 Red Banana Health Benefits

As per folk medicine, red bananas may help in treating various issues, like kidney stones and osteoporosisi  A condition where the bones become brittle and weak due to reduced bone mineral density and bone mass. . They can also keep your energy levels high, being rich in nutrition.

protip_icon Fun Fact
Red bananas are consumed as an aphrodisiac and fertility elixir in Central America. These bananas are often given as gifts in the Piro tribe in Peru as they have many rituals that involve bananas.

1. Nutrient Rich

A medium red banana (100g) is 75 % water. It is low in fat and rich in fiber (2.6 g) (1).

  • It is a rich source of healthy carbohydrates (22.84 g) and has a low glycemic index. It is a good source of instant energy that is released steadily into the bloodstream.
  • It contains essential minerals, like potassium (358 mg), magnesium (27 g), phosphorus (22 mg), calcium (5 mg), and iron (0.26 mg). which helps in maintaining a healthy electrolyte balance.
  • It contains essential nutrients, such as vitamin C (8.7 mg), thiamin (0.031mg), riboflavin (0.073 mg), niacin (0.665 mg), vitamin B6 (0.3 mg), folate (20 µg), and choline (9.8 mg).
  • Antioxidants, such as beta-carotene (26 µg) and lutein + zeaxanthin (22 µg), are also found in red bananas.
  • They are a great source of carbohydrates and contain a good amount of sugar. 100 grams of red banana contain 73.43 to 148.80 calories, making it a good source of energy (2).

2. May Help Manage Diabetes

Research has established that diabetes management is dependent on improving glycemic control (3). Consuming foods with a lower glycemic index can help reduce the sudden spike of blood glucose levels (3).

A study observed that the low glycemic response of red bananas could be beneficial for individuals with diabetes. Red bananas also inhibit the activity of α-amylase and α-glucosidase (enzymes involved in glucose synthesis) and further help in this regard (4).

3. May Have Antioxidants Properties

Red bananas are rich in phenols and vitamin C (4). A comparative study of three banana cultivars exhibited their antioxidant activities (4).

Antioxidants scavenge free radicals that can otherwise cause cellular damage. Excess of free radicals can result in oxidative stress and eventually increase risk of metabolic disorders like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer (5).

Red banana contains carotenoids, anthocyaninsi  They are water-soluble colored pigments found in tropical fruits that may appear red, purple, blue, or black depending on their pH. , and flavonolsi  They belong to the flavonoid class in plants and have antioxidant and anti-microbial properties. . The antioxidant properties of red bananas can also be attributed to their high carotenoid content (6). As per studies, red bananas appear to contain more antioxidants than their yellow cousins (7).

4. May Help Lower Blood Pressure

Red bananas may help lower blood pressure
Image: Shutterstock

Red bananas are rich in potassium. The role of potassium in maintaining blood pressure and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease has been well established. Increasing potassium intake reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension (8).

5. May Support Eye Health

Red bananas are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin. These carotenoids are found to protect against age-related macular degenerationi  A common eye disorder that affects the center of the retina, causing blurred central vision and loss of sight. (9), (10). Red bananas also contain beta-carotenoids. These are precursors of vitamin A and are especially effective when taken from dietary sources (11), (12).

Vitamin A is essential for healthy eyesight (13). a deficiency of vitamin A can lead to night blindness (13). However, more studies are needed to understand the effectiveness of vitamin A in red bananas in improving vision and promoting eye health.

6. May Support Your Immune System

Red bananas contain several antioxidants that can improve immunity. They are also excellent sources of vitamins C and B6 (1). Research suggests that vitamin C can help boost immunity  (14). There is also evidence that it can reduce the risk of infection, though more studies are needed in this regard (15).

7. May Improve Digestive Health

Red bananas may improve digestive system health
Image: Shutterstock

Traditionally red bananas have been used to treat various digestive issues including diarrhea, bloating, and constipation. Studies suggest that the high fiber content (or resistant starch) in  bananas may help ease bowel movements (16).

Bananas, in general, have prebiotic properties. They can help improve the health of the gut microbiome (17). They increase the good bacteria that break down the fiber into essential nutrients (17). Red bananas may also contain oligosaccharides that may help in reducing inflammation (18).

8. May Promote Weight Loss

Red bananas may promote weight loss
Image: Shutterstock

Red bananas are high in fiber and nutrients (1). They are relatively low in fat and calories (1). Fiber helps in improving satiety and may promote weight loss (19). Fiber also improves gut bacteria and reduces inflammation. It reduces the risk of obesity and other related diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disorders and improves heart health (20), (21).

The anti-hyperglycemic properties (lowering blood sugar) and low glycemic index of red bananas also help in the steady release of sugar into the bloodstream (3). This may also help reduce food cravings.

9. May Help Ease Nicotine Withdrawal

Red bananas may help manage diabetes
Image: Shutterstock

Although evidence is limited, minerals like magnesium have been suggested to help ease the withdrawal symptoms of nicotine (22). The mineral helps relieve bad mood and stress, which are two major risk factors smoking.

Studies also show that dietary carotenoids are linked to reduced cigarette smoking and lung cancer prevention in men (23). However, more data is warranted in this regard.

Red bananas could also have certain benefits for skin and hair. Though more research is needed to establish these benefits, anecdotal evidence supports their use. In the following section, we have discussed ways you can use red bananas to improve your skin and hair health.

Benefits Of Red Bananas For Skin And Hair

Red bananas for skin and hair health
Image: Shutterstock

Red bananas contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, such as vitamin C and carotenoids, that help slow down aging (24). Vitamin C stimulates the production of collagen, which is an integral component of skin and hair architecture (25).

The topical application of collagen can improve skin texture and pigmentation (25). Anecdotal evidence suggests that red bananas can also be used to condition hair.

Skin Brightening Mask

You Will Need

  • A medium red banana, ripe
  • Honey (one tablespoon)

Process

  1. Mash the banana pulp and add honey to make a smooth paste.
  2. Apply the mixture evenly to the face. Wash after 20 minutes.
  3. Repeat once daily.

Hair Conditioning Mask

You Will Need

Process

  1. Mix all the ingredients together to form a thick paste.
  2. Apply to hair, from root to tip.
  3. Wash after 20 minutes.
  4. Repeat thrice a week.

Ramya, a blogger, shared her positive experience of using a red banana mask for her and was happy with the results. She wrote, “I have dry hair so this hair pack suited me really well, I have done the treatment more than 4 times from then on and it is a safe hair pack that can be used by everyone (i).”

Though red bananas are similar to yellow bananas in terms of their health benefits and nutritional profile, the former seem to have an edge. In the following section, we will look at the differences between the two.

Red Vs. Yellow Bananas

  • Nutrient Profile: Red bananas have more phenolic and beta-carotene content as compared to yellow bananas (6). They also are richer in other nutrients, such as vitamin C. Red bananas also have a lower glycemic index than the yellow ones.
  • Size: Red bananas are smaller and plumper than yellow bananas.
  • Color: Red bananas have reddish to purple-colored outer peels and creamy pinkish flesh. Yellow bananas have yellow-colored peels with white flesh.
  • Taste: Red bananas taste similar to yellow bananas along with a hint of raspberries.
  • Texture: In terms of texture, both banana variants are the same. When unripe, they are hard and chalky. As they ripen, they are soft and tender.

How To Eat Red Bananas

Red bananas are best consumed when ripe. You can eat them the way you eat a regular banana, after peeling them. They can also be added to breakfast oatmeal and desserts, such as ice creams, fruit salads, and smoothies. Baked recipes, like banana bread, muffins, and pancakes, taste amazing as well. Red bananas can be consumed as savory snacks after baking or frying them.

Red bananas can be an excellent addition to your diet. But are they an affordable option? Find out in the next section.

Price Of Red Banana

The price of red bananas varies, depending on your location, the time of year, and the store or market you are buying them from. Generally, red bananas may be slightly more expensive than yellow bananas due to their unique flavor and limited availability. Prices can range from a few cents to a dollar or more per banana.

Infographic: 5 Reasons Red Bananas Are Good For Your Health

Red bananas are not only delicious but are also great sources of vitamins and minerals that nourish your body from within. Consuming these delicious fruits may also improve digestion and slow down premature aging. Check out the infographic below to learn about the benefits of including red bananas in your diet.

5 reasons red bananas are good for your health (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Red bananas taste similar to regular ones and hold a rich nutritional profile. They are high in fiber and contain antioxidants that help treat many issues. The intake of red bananas may help manage diabetes, lower blood pressure, support eye health, improve immune system function, enhance digestion, and promote weight loss. In addition, they may slow down aging, improve skin texture, and help condition the hair. You can eat them as regular bananas and even add them to desserts or baked recipes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will red bananas increase weight?

Red bananas help manage weight due to their high fiber content. However, eating them in moderation is key.

When should you eat red bananas?

Red bananas are best eaten when ripe. You can consume them in the morning or evening. In the evening, ensure you have them at least 2 – 3 hours before bedtime given that they may take time to digest.

Can we eat red bananas daily?

Yes, they can be consumed daily, but in moderation. Two to three a day should be sufficient.

Can those with diabetes eat red banana?

Red bananas are rich in nutrients and have a low glycemic index. They also are rich in fiber. Hence, they can help people with diabetes, but should be consumed in moderation.

Can you eat red bananas on an empty stomach?

Yes, you may. There is no data to report the adverse effects of consuming red bananas on an empty stomach.

How do you ripen a red banana?

Red bananas usually ripen at room temperature in a day or two. Keeping them in paper bags can accelerate the process.

Can red bananas cause a cold?

Red bananas are rich in antioxidants and may help in improving immunity. No research exists stating that they can cause cold.

Are red bananas natural?

Yes, they are natural hybrids found in southeast Asia.

Can you eat red bananas during pregnancy?

Red bananas are generally safe to eat during pregnancy. They contain some folic acid and, therefore, could be beneficial. However, consult a doctor before including them in your diet during pregnancy.

Key Takeaways

  • Red bananas are smaller and richer in vitamin C than yellow bananas.
  • They help improve digestion and promote weight loss.
  • Red bananas possess antioxidants that promote collagen production and improve your skin health.
  • You can add red bananas to your oatmeal, smoothies, ice creams, or desserts.
red banana benefits

Image: Dall·E/StyleCraze Design Team

Red bananas are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, making them a great choice for a healthy snack. Learn about the other health benefits of red bananas in this informative video.

Personal Experience: Source

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. “FoodData Central Search Results.” FoodData Central
    https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/786655/nutrients
  2. “Fruit characteristic and nutrient values of four Indonesian banana cultivars (Musa spp.) at different genomic groups.” AGRIVITA Journal of Agricultural Science 38(3):303-311
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/305801221_Fruit_characteristic_and_nutrient_values_of_four_Indonesian_banana_cultivars_Musa_spp_at_different_genomic_groups
  3. “The role of the glycemic index in the prevention and management of diabetes: A review and discussion.” Canadian Journal of Diabetes 29.1 (2005): 27-38.
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/288370627
  4. “Antioxidant and antihyperglycemic properties of three banana cultivars (Musa spp.).” Scientifica 2016 (2016).
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  6. “Compositional variation in β‐carotene content, carbohydrate and antioxidant enzymes in selected banana cultivars.” International journal of food science & technology 43.11 (2008): 1913-1921.
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  7. “Comparative analysis of pigments in red and yellow banana fruit.” Food chemistry 239 (2018): 1009-1018.
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/318358151_Comparative_analysis_of_pigments_in_red_and_yellow_banana_fruit
  8. “Effect of increased potassium intake on cardiovascular risk factors and disease: systematic review and meta-analyses.” Bmj 346 (2013): f1378.
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    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21899805
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Janelle Bigelman

Janelle BigelmanMS, RDN

Janelle Bigelman is a registered dietitian with 3 years of experience. Being an athlete and heavily invested in sports while growing up, she quickly learned the interconnection of optimal nutrition and how one’s daily dietary habits can impact one’s overall health, longevity recovery and performance, both positively and negatively.

Read full bio of Janelle Bigelman