April 17, 2018

Why bananas are worth another look

Bananas may have become less appealing over the years — many people believe they are too high in calories, sugar and carbohydrates.

In honor of Banana Day on April 18, let’s examine the misconceptions around bananas and shed new light on this much maligned fruit.

Misconception: Bananas are too high in carbohydrates.

Yes, bananas, like other fruits, are mostly carbohydrate. However, we need carbohydrates in our diet to fuel our body. Part of the carbohydrate in bananas comes from fiber. Eating a banana after a workout is far healthier than having a sports drink and provides needed energy and potassium.

Misconception: They’re packed with calories.

The average banana is around 100 calories, equivalent to a slice of bread, and a good amount for a satisfying grab-and-go snack. If you are looking to slim down, I recommend eating a banana before a meal so you can fill up a little and more easily control your portions.

Misconception: Bananas are full of sugar.

There is sugar in bananas, but naturally occurring sugar in fruit isn’t absorbed as quickly as the sugar added to coffee or found in desserts. If you have diabetes, you can slow down your body’s absorption of carbohydrates by pairing it with a protein, such as peanut butter or a piece of string cheese.

The real appeal of bananas

We debunked the common misconceptions around bananas — now let’s explore their benefits.

Bananas are nutritious.

Bananas are a major source of potassium, beneficial to our muscles and heart. They also have a high amount of fiber, beneficial to our stomachs. You can eat bananas when your stomach is upset as they are easy to digest — just be sure to drink plenty of water, as you would with other fiber-rich foods.

Bananas are a good oil substitute.

Instead of using oil in baked recipes, use a banana as a fat-free, sodium-free, gluten-free alternative. One banana is the equivalent of one cup of oil.

Bananas are economical.

If you go to the grocery store (depending on where you live), they aren’t usually more than a quarter. What other snack can beat that price? Plus, they come in their own wrapper, so except for a compostable peel, there’s no packaging to throw away or recycle.

Have I convinced you that bananas are a healthy food choice? If so, grab some bananas and try these favorite Food for Health recipes:

Vegan banana French toast

Magic "ice cream"

Brown rice banana bread

Banana pecan blueberry pancakes

Frozen banana whip

Contributor: Jennifer Davis, MS, RDN