Bananas and diabetes connection

Bananas are one primary fruit we could count on to offer consistent taste and quality all year round at a secure, affordable price, even though they travel quite some distance to attain our markets. In the US, the average cost of bananas is 58 cents a pound, or about 19 cents per banana.

Over a hundred billion bananas are eaten each year globally, and Americans consume an average of 27 pounds per person each year. That is equal to about 90 bananas annually. The vast majority of bananas Americans eat come from Latin and South America. But they are grown in over 100 countries with tropical climates.

Bananas don't have to ripen on the plant, so they're chosen and exported when green. The hard green peel prevents damage to the bananas during transport. Once plucked from the banana tree, the ripening process slowly starts. The banana creates ethylene gas within itself, which begins a chemical process that alters starch to sugar. This action softens and sweetens the flesh, while the peel varies from green to yellow. As ripening continues, brown spots appear, and finally, the whole banana peel turns brown.

Americans eat more bananas than other common fruits like apples (11 lbs of bananas vs. 10 lbs of apples per year). They have a unique taste, are easy to chew and digest, and their natural sweetness makes them a favorite food for many ages. They are quite handy and portable for today's hectic lifestyle in their sealed package. Grab and go for a fast mini snack, breakfast, or an after-lunch dessert.

Someone with diabetes needs to consider the contents of every meal carefully. While fruits and vegetables have a wide assortment of essential nutrients, some may lead to blood sugar spikes. How do bananas measure up for diabetics? Let's find out.

Can diabetics eat bananas?

For the most part, eating bananas in limited quantities is just fine for people with diabetes. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) indicates that individuals with diabetes should incorporate fruit into a controlled diet, like eating a half-serving of fruit with every meal as a dessert.

Bananas grow on fragile-looking but robust plants (technically not trees - since they do not have woody tissue) that can have anywhere from 50 to 150 bananas in each bunch. One can buy individual bananas in varying sizes, or a bunch by the pound.

Diabetics are also quite familiar with using the glycemic index (GI) to think about the blood sugar effect of a food type. This ranking system provides an idea of the rate at which particular carbohydrates boost blood glucose. Bananas are a low-GI fruit. According to the worldwide GI database, all bananas are not created equal. Well ripened bananas have a GI of 60, ripe bananas have a GI score of 51, and unripe green bananas have a GI of 30. As a reference, low-GI foods are classified as having a score of 55 or less. People with diabetes can enjoy them provided that they carefully consider portion size.

For many, while bananas are safe for all those who have diabetes, there are other nutritional benefits.

The other nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and fiber content in banana may provide additional nutritional benefits for those who have diabetes, so long as an individual doesn't eat excessive portions.

Writers of a small study in 2014 gave 250- or 500-gram (g) breakfast portions of banana to participants with type 2 diabetes and those with higher cholesterol levels in their blood. They found that the banana serving didn't have significant effects on blood sugar right after eating, but eating the portions daily significantly reduced fasting blood sugar.

However, the study authors accept a larger study would be necessary to validate the glucose-reducing effect of bananas in a mutually beneficial way.

A 2017 study of 500K participants indicates that although lower-glycemic-index (GI) fruits are safer for individuals with diabetes compared to higher-GI fruits, both may help a person reduce the risk of diabetes developing in the first location.

Banana chips for diabetics - not!

Cooking and preparation methods make a difference in how bananas affect diabetics.

The preparation of some processed banana goods may make them less acceptable for those who have diabetes.

Some food manufacturers market dried banana chips as a healthy treat or snack - which they may not be if they contain added sugars or syrups to improve flavor. Snacking on a serving of banana chips is more likely to cause a blood sugar spike than snacking on a little, fresh banana. You should always remember to carefully read nutrition labels and restrict or avoid dried fruits that have added sugar.


Banana diet tips & tricks

These tips may help a person with diabetes include bananas into meal and snack times. Eating a banana along with a source of unsaturated fat, such as peanut or almond butter, sunflower seeds, pistachios, or walnuts, can have a positive effect on blood sugar in addition to boosting the flavor.


Pair with another food

Another healthy option for people with diabetes is to pair a banana with a protein source, such as breakfast cereal, milk, or yogurt. This pairing will help a person feel fuller for longer and reduce the need to snack during the day, helping them regulate blood glucose.

See: Steel cut oats with banana

Eat a green banana

Consider having a greener, unripe banana. With a lower GI, unripe bananas may increase blood sugar more slowly than ripe bananas.  In 1992, a research study of ten subjects with diabetes was undertaken to study the correlation between banana ripeness and blood glucose. The researchers concluded that unripe green bananas tend to have a slower effect on blood glucose than ripe bananas.

Unripe bananas contain more starch compared to ripe bananas. The body can't break down starch as readily as less complex sugars. This process contributes to a slower, more controllable growth in blood glucose.

See: DASH diet with Banana pancake

Eat half a banana

Portion control has a direct influence on the amount of sugar a person consumes in any dish, including a banana. Bananas are available in many sizes. Someone will take in fewer carbs should they select a smaller banana. For example, a small banana that's 6 inches long has 23 grams of carbs per serving, while an extra-large banana has about 35 grams of carbohydrates.

How many can you eat daily? The answer depends entirely on the person's specific situation, their activity level, and how bananas change their blood glucose.

Some people's blood sugar may respond to bananas differently than others. Understanding how bananas affect a specific individual's blood glucose can help them manage their medications and insulin shots if needed. Speak to your registered dietitian or health expert about including bananas in a diabetes meal plan.

See: Foods to avoid when constipated

Keep track of carbs

A medium-sized, 7-inch banana on its own comprises Roughly 26 grams of carbs. Work with a health care team to define your target carb intake. The physician or dietitian will educate a person on effective portion control and controlling the consumption of fiber, fats, proteins, and carbohydrates sensibly. An individual should follow their diabetes meal plan carefully.

Keep in mind that eating a banana along with another source Of carbohydrates, including a slice of toast or cereal, means that the total carb intake with that meal is higher. Based on nutritional advice from the doctor, it could be necessary to swap out carbs in a subsequent meal.

Alternately, after eating a meal that is lighter on carbohydrates, It's possible to spend the carbs you have saved on a little banana for a snack. This swap will ensure no one meal or snack supplies also many carbohydrates.


Bananas provide nutrition

From a nutritional standpoint, not a lot of foods step up to the quality and amount of nutrients packed within a banana. A medium-sized banana supplies about 105 calories with almost no fat, sodium or cholesterol. They're an outstanding source of potassium, a nutrient essential for regulating blood pressure, fluid balance, muscle and nerve function, and heart health. If you exercise - which you should -  a banana can help prevent muscle cramps as well. They also contain vitamins C, B6, and magnesium.

Bananas are a great source of carbohydrate, our chief source of energy. A mean seven-inch banana contains about 27 grams of total carbohydrate. For men with diabetes, diabetes can be worked into one's overall carbohydrate-controlled meal program as part of a meal or as a nutritious snack to assist with stable blood sugars.

The general carbohydrate content of a banana doesn't increase as a banana ripens, but there might be a marginally quicker rise in blood sugars from a ripe banana in comparison to some less ripe one. This fact is typically not significant enough to make a difference or justify eating green bananas. The size of the banana has a more substantial effect on the blood glucose increase than the ripeness, because of how it might contain more total carbohydrate grams.

A typical banana also contains about 3 grams of fiber, which may help provide a sense of fullness and assist the digestion process by offering prebiotics and probiotics. These insoluble fiber elements help keep healthy gut bacteria and enzymes required to digest meals and benefit the immune system.

Bananas are loaded with nutrients & fiber but low in saturated fat and sodium. They are also a vital source of potassium, a mineral that helps balance sodium levels in the blood. Bananas also have a good mixture of other nutrients, such as manganese, magnesium, vitamin B6, vitamin C

Summary

Bananas can be a yummy addition to your diet. They provide a filling & safe fruit choice for diabetics to consume in moderation as part of a balanced, individualized diet plan. As with other items, well-controlled quantities of banana in the diet are recommended. Someone with diabetes should include plant food choices in the diet, like fruits and vegetables. Bananas provide loads of nourishment without adding many calories. For a specific diet program, consult a registered dietitian or health specialist.

References

1. Raben A1, Tagliabue A, Christensen NJ, Madsen J, Holst JJ, Astrup A., Resistant starch: the effect on postprandial glycemia, hormonal response, and satiety.

2. Du, H. et al. (2017). Fresh fruit consumption in relation to incident diabetes and diabetic vascular complications: A 7-y prospective study of 0.5 million Chinese adults. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5388466/ 

3. Fruits. (2016). diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/making-healthy-food-choices/fruits.html , ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25651610

4. Basic Report: 09040, Bananas, raw. (2018)., ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/09040?fgcd=&manu=&format=&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=default&order=asc&qlookup=banana&ds=&qt=&qp=&qa=&qn=&q=&ing=

5. Cressey, R. et al. (2014). Daily consumption of banana marginally improves blood glucose and lipid profile in hypercholesterolemic subjects and increases serum adiponectin in type 2 diabetic patients [Abstract].

6. Hermansen, K. & Rasmussen, O. W. (1992). Influence of ripeness of banana on the blood glucose and insulin response in type 2 diabetic subjects.

researchgate.net/publication/21759180_Influence_of_Ripeness_of_Banana_on_the_Blood_Glucose_and_Insulin_Response_in_Type_2_Diabetic_Subjects

7. Schwartz SE1, Levine RA, Weinstock RS, Petokas S, Mills CA, Thomas FD., Sustained pectin ingestion: effect on gastric emptying and glucose tolerance in non-insulin-dependent diabetic patients.

8. Atkinson, F. S. (2008). International tables of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2008., ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2584181/

Get a Consultation
(650) 539-4545
Get more information via email