All over the world, this sweet, soft, and creamy fruit is famous for its delightful flavor and remarkable health benefits. Bananas are one among the world’s most widely consumed fruits and are chock-full of essential nutrients that help ward off many physiological and psychological troubles. While most of us may go bananas over bananas, have you ever thought about the possible side effects they could have?
Despite their numerous health benefits, there are also certain side effects associated with eating bananas that you should know about. Here are 14 of them:
Side Effects Of Bananas
- Weight Gain
- Tooth Decay
- Nerve Damage
- Ragweed Allergy
- Hypersensitivity In Patients Allergic To Latex
- Respiratory Problems
- Abdominal Pain
- Anaphylactic Shock
- Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes
1. Weight Gain
Agreed that bananas, in comparison to your favorite box of cookies or crisps, have lesser calories, but, they still have enough calories to make you put on weight. That is if you don’t keep a tab on your portion sizes.
A medium-sized banana contains 105 calories. That, in comparison to a medium-sized orange (62), a bowl of diced watermelon (45), or a cup of grapes (62) is a lot higher. So, if you’re looking for a low-calorie snack to indulge in every few hours, bananas may not be the best choice. Instead, fruits and veggies with high water content like watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, peaches, cucumber, lettuce, zucchini, cabbage, etc. make for better snack choices. They have fewer calories and high fiber content to keep you full for long.
If you’re often troubled by excruciating migraine attacks, you may want to avoid including bananas in your daily diet. Tyramine, a substance found in many foods like cheese, fish, meats, and bananas is a trigger for migraine headaches, the University of Maryland Medical Centre reports (1). Since banana peels contain ten times more tyramine than banana pulp, be extra cautious about removing the stringy pieces of peel from the fruit before eating it.
Hyperkalemia is a condition caused due to excess potassium in the blood and is identified through symptoms like uneven pulse rate, nausea, and irregular heartbeat that can even lead to heart attack. As per the Linus Pauling Institute of Oregon State University, a dosage of potassium greater than 18 g can cause hyperkalemia in adults (2). There are certain diet plans like the GM diet that recommend excess intake of bananas on certain days. If you follow such diets, you could just be calling for trouble.
4. Tooth Decay
Being high in starch, bananas can cause serious tooth decay if you don’t maintain proper dental hygiene. According to certain studies, bananas can be even more detrimental to your oral health as compared to chocolates, red licorice, and chewing gum (3). Starches dissolve slowly in the mouth whereas sugars dissolve quickly. Therefore, when you consume foods like bananas, their particles rest between the teeth for about two hours and thus attract more bacteria, resulting in more cavities.
Always thought that beginning your day with a banana was a great idea? What you probably didn’t know was that bananas can make you feel drowsy, even if you’ve just started the day. They are rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that can reduce your mental performance and reaction time, apart from making you feel sleepy (4). Bananas also contain high doses of magnesium, a mineral that aids muscle relaxation. These properties, however, make them a good snack before bedtime.
6. Nerve Damage
Since bananas contain vitamin B6 in high amounts, their overconsumption can result in nerve damage. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, consumption of more than 100 mg of vitamin B6 without prescription can result in nerve damage (5). However, the possibility of nerve damage through banana consumption seems rare unless you are a bodybuilder with a banana obsession or if you are participating in a banana eating competition.
7. Ragweed Allergy
Ragweed allergy is a condition that causes your immune system to react when you inhale ragweed (weeds that grow throughout the United States) pollen grains. A person suffering from this allergy displays symptoms like swollen lips, irritated throat, swollen tongue, etc. People who are already suffering from ragweed allergy might experience similar symptoms upon consumption or even handling of bananas (6).
8. Hypersensitivity In Patients Allergic To Latex
As per a study conducted by the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, those individuals who are allergic to latex display hypersensitivity to bananas too (7). Symptoms like wheezing, runny nose, coughing, itchy throat, and watery eyes are common with this allergy.
9. Respiratory Problems
Another problem that is an offshoot of ragweed allergy is inflammation. It might constrict airways and cause respiratory problems. This might result in severe difficulty in breathing or swallowing (8).
10. Abdominal Pain
If you indulge in bananas that aren’t ripe enough, you may end up with a severe stomach pain. You may also experience nausea along with the abdominal pain. Unripe bananas contain a high amount of resistant starch that takes a long time for your body to digest. You may also experience immediate vomiting or diarrhea.
11. Anaphylactic Shock
Some individuals allergic to bananas can also experience a serious immune response with a sudden drop in blood pressure. Their respiratory troubles inhibit blood oxygen levels from rising, and they can experience shock. Watch out for symptoms such as increased or reduced pulse rate, light-headedness, and faintness. A study conducted by the Journal of Medical Case Reports reveals such extreme cases of banana allergy even in infants (9). The study further suggests that while introducing solid foods to their babies, parents must be cautious and consider banana as a potential allergen.
Shocked? Yes, we were shocked too on learning that bananas cause constipation! All along, we have known that bananas aid bowel movements, but the magic lies in how ripe the bananas are. Unripe or green bananas are rich in resistant starches, which can increase the risk of constipation. They even contain heavy doses of tannic acid that has an inhibitory effect on the digestive tract. Tannic acid obstructs the secretion of the gastrointestinal fluid and curbs gastrointestinal motility (10). A ripe banana, on the other hand, can help alleviate constipation. Bananas have been reported as constipation-causing foods (11).
Consuming bananas can result in gas (12). They contain soluble fiber and fructose, both of which can cause gas. If you suddenly increase your intake of fiber or consume it in huge amounts, it takes a lot of effort for your large intestine to break down the fiber, and it can thus cause gas. Similarly, in the case of fructose, when taken in large amounts, your body can find it difficult to digest it.
14. Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes
Bananas fit the ‘medium-level’ glycemic food category, which means that they have the ability to cause a slight spike in your blood sugar levels. Since the overconsumption of foods with a high glycemic index can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases, you should regulate your intake of bananas. This is all the more true in the case of overripe bananas as they have a higher glycemic index as compared to regular bananas (13). Watch out for how many you eat in a day.
Here are some warnings and precautions regarding the consumption of bananas:
- In case your kidneys don’t function properly, keep your intake of bananas to a minimum. Too much potassium in your diet can put a lot of strain on your kidneys to remove the excess from your blood. This can be very dangerous.
- Since bananas are stored at room temperature, they can get spoiled easily and should be eaten within two days since the day of purchase. At the same time, it is important that you avoid eating underripe bananas.
- If you experience cramping, hives, wheezing, and throat irritation each time you eat a banana, you could be allergic to either the bananas or to other fruits containing the same protein.
- In case you want to increase your intake of bananas, do consult your doctor to know the recommended dosage.
According to a report published by the National Consumers League and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, following are the major banana-drug interactions (14):
If you are a heart patient, your doctor may have prescribed you a type of medication called beta-blockers. This medication causes a surge in the level of potassium in the blood. You must, therefore, consume bananas in moderation as they are rich in potassium and can cause a dangerous rise in the potassium levels in your blood.
2. Oxazolidinone Antibacterials
If you are on oxazolidinone antibacterials, you might want to watch your intake of bananas. Bananas contain tyramine that can cause a dangerous increase in your blood pressure when supplemented with oxazolidinone antibacterials. Check with your doctor on the allowed intake.
3. ACE Inhibitors (Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors)
Doctors prescribe these medicines to lower blood pressure or treat heart failure. Like beta-blockers, they increase the amount of potassium in the blood. You must, therefore, avoid overindulging in bananas if you’re on this drug as you may experience irregular heartbeat and palpitations.
Doctors prescribe diuretics to help the body remove water, sodium, and chloride. Diuretics also help reduce the swelling caused by heart or liver problems. They help treat high blood pressure too. Since some diuretics increase the levels of potassium in the body, you should lower the intake of bananas as they can further increase the level of potassium in your blood, which can be dangerous.
Though we have listed down all the cons of eating bananas, we cannot deny the fact that when eaten in moderation, they are good for you. Unless, of course, you have a health concern that doesn’t allow you to eat them.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends every healthy adult to enjoy two cups of fruit daily (equal to two bananas). Instead of making bananas your staple diet, you should have them alongside other healthy foods. Only then, you can make the best of the benefits of bananas.
Hope we addressed some of the questions you may have had about side effects of banana. Do give us your feedback in the comments section below.