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A medium-sized banana contains the following nutrients:
- Potassium: 9% of the Recommended Daily Calorie Intake (RDI)
- Vitamin B6: 33% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 11% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 8% of the RDI
- Copper: 10% of the RDI
- Manganese: 14% of the RDI
- Fiber: 3.1 grams[ref]https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/[/ref] [ref]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10725161[/ref] [ref]http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814602001863[/ref]
Affordable, nutritious, and a staple food crop in the tropical and subtropical countries, the humble banana has a huge fan following across the world. In addition to the nutrients they provide, bananas are great sources of antioxidants such as dopamine and catechin. And at about 90 calories for a medium banana, they make a great snack. But if the choice between green and yellow bananas has you confused, we’ve put together all the factors that can help you decide.
What Causes Bananas To Ripen?
Bananas can move quickly from being firm with a green peel to going soft with a mottled yellow and brown peel. For this to happen, several processes are at work, determining both the chemical and nutritional value of the fruit as well as the texture of its peel.
Bananas, like other fruits, ripen by virtue of a hormone called ethylene. As bananas ripen, ethylene converts complex sugars into simple sugars and breaks down pectin, a substance that keeps bananas hard. And just as changes take place inside, shifts in the composition of the peel simultaneously occur outside. Hormones break down the green pigments in unripe bananas and replace them with yellow pigments.
As the banana continues to ripen, the pigments in the peels are also broken down. But while the green pigments are replaced by yellow ones, the process stops there. The yellow pigment is not replaced, which leads to the browning of the peel.[ref]http://scienceline.ucsb.edu/getkey.php?key=1213[/ref] [ref]http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/nelsons/banana/ripeningbunchmanagement.pdf[/ref]
Ripe Bananas Are Easier To Digest But Contain Fewer Nutrients
One Swedish study found that consumption of bananas could reduce the risk of renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer).[ref]Rashidkhani, Bahram, Per Lindblad, and Alicja Wolk. “Fruits, vegetables and risk of renal cell carcinoma: a prospective study of Swedish women.” International journal of cancer 113, no. 3 (2005): 451-455.[/ref]
- Yellow bananas are easier to digest because the resistant starch changes to simple sugar when a banana ripens. The higher glycemic index of ripe bananas also leads to quick digestion.
- A few studies have found that bananas may have higher levels of antioxidants as they ripen.[ref]Do dark colored foods really have more nutrients? Michigan State University.[/ref]
- A few studies have found that bananas might lose micronutrients as they ripen.[ref]Do dark colored foods really have more nutrients? Michigan State University.[/ref]
- The riper the banana, the higher the sugar content. This high sugar content makes ripe bananas something type 2 diabetics should certainly avoid.
Green Bananas Are Nutritionally Rich But Are Lower In Antioxidants
- Green bananas are a good source of nutrients such as potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. They are especially suitable for people on low-carb diets, helping meet their nutritional needs.
- A superstar ingredient in green bananas is resistant starch, which has a host of health benefits. People suffering from type 2 diabetes can eat unripe green bananas because of its resistant starch content. [ref]http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-3010.2005.00481.x/full[/ref].
- If you are trying to avoid foods with high sugar content, then green bananas are the better option. They are ideal for weight loss as well. The resistant starch makes you feel fuller and helps you burn fat more quickly.[ref]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8092089[/ref]
- Resistant starch has been linked to several other health benefits such as improved colon health, better blood lipid profile, and reduced insulin resistance. All benefits packed into an unripe banana! [ref]http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0144861704004023[/ref] [ref]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11427691[/ref], [ref]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20536509[/ref]
- Green bananas help you absorb nutrients better, calcium in particular.
- The bitter taste and waxy texture of an unripe banana are its most obvious drawbacks.
- Because antioxidant levels actually go up as the banana “ages,” unripe bananas are of lower quality in this regard.
- Green bananas contain proteins that limit your body’s ability to digest complex carbohydrates.
- Green bananas may cause some bloating and gas due to the higher resistant starch content.
When Consumed In Moderation, Both Types Are Good Options
Both green and ripe bananas have benefits when consumed in moderation. The differentiator in this case might be the profile of the person eating them. Green bananas work better for a type 2 diabetic or someone trying to avoid excess sugar. If you are working on losing weight or building lean muscle then you should stick to green bananas. Yellow banana, on the other hand, is an ideal snack and source of energy and can make a great pre-workout and post-workout food.