Food as Medicine

Are Bananas a Nutrient Packed Snack or a Glorified Candy?

BY Mat Lecompte TIMEMay 8, 2022 PRINT

You don’t have to be an expert in bananas to know they are super sweet. But can all that sweetness exist in a superfood?

There’s no doubt bananas can be highly controversial. They’re very high in sugar but remain a low glycemic load food. The biggest danger from these may come from slipping on a peel.

Bananas are rich in nutrition and a great source of something nearly everybody could use more of—fiber. They are also versatile, accessible, convenient, and affordable.

The biggest claim to fame of the banana is the potassium content. One medium-sized banana has 375 milligrams (mg), which is about 11 percent of the daily recommended intake for men and 16 percent for women.

Potassium plays a vital role in heart health, most prominently by helping to regulate blood pressure.

Bananas are also a rich source of other nutrients, phytochemicals, and antioxidants.

There are about five grams of fiber in a banana, which can contribute to benefits like better digestion, lower inflammation, and improved heart health. The fiber makeup of a banana can be somewhat unique, too.

Unripe or slightly ripe bananas contain resistant starch, which acts as a prebiotic fiber. These types of fiber act to feed probiotics, the guts “good” microbes, which are important for digestion and linked to immunity, brain health, and more.

As a banana ripens, the resistant starch is broken down into natural sugars, which is why it is sweeter than a slightly unripe banana.

If you’re thinking about including more bananas into your diet, remember this: It’s not the same when used as an ice cream topping, put in banana bread, or eaten as chips.

Be careful about banana chips, which are generally dried and fried.

If you want bananas to retain their healthy qualities, there are plenty of other uses for them. They can be added to smoothies as a thickener and sweetener, sliced and put on whole-wheat toast and peanut butter, or simply unpeeled and eaten for a quick snack.

Mat Lecompte is a health and wellness journalist. This article was first published on

Mat Lecompte
Starting as a journalist over 10 years ago, Mat has not only honed his belief system and approach with practical experience, but he has also worked closely with nutritionists, dieticians, athletes, and fitness professionals. He embraces natural healing methods and believes that diet, exercise and willpower are the foundation of a healthy, happy, and drug-free existence.
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