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Is Banana Good for Diabetes? Glycemic Index a Sugar Content
Diabetes

Is Banana Good for Diabetes? Glycemic Index a Sugar Content

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on 2022 September 26
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7 min

Blood sugar problems can lead to several serious consequences. Many people with diabetes don’t eat bananas because they think it increases their blood sugar. But is it really true, and how do these delicious fruits affect your glucose levels?

is banana good for diabetes

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One of the most nourishing and healthy fruits is the banana, a fruit that is readily available practically all year.

Bananas are often known to raise blood sugars, but what is their glycemic index, and are they suitable for people with diabetes? Let’s find out. 

Is Banana Good for Diabetes?

Consuming nutrient-dense foods such as fruits and vegetables is crucial because people with diabetes are significantly more vulnerable to irregular blood sugar levels. Therefore, they frequently limit bananas in their diet because they believe they are high in sugar.

However, banana is a healthy fruit that is high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, so if you have diabetes, it is actually allowed to include this fruit in your balanced diet. Nonetheless, keep track of how many bananas you eat and how they affect your blood glucose and adjust your eating habits accordingly.

Do Bananas Raise Your Blood Sugar?

Yes, consuming bananas can raise your blood sugars.

The body’s major energy source is blood sugar. The majority of the glucose in the body comes from the metabolism of food’s carbs. About 28g of carbohydrates are present in one medium-sized banana.

The body breaks down carbohydrates in food more quickly, which causes blood sugar levels to rise more quickly. Simple carbohydrates are converted into glucose relatively quickly, meaning they have a greater impact on blood sugar levels and are more likely to trigger blood sugar increases in people with diabetes. 

Like many fruits, bananas are a good source of simple carbohydrates.

The net carbohydrate value should be considered when calculating carbs for blood sugar control. 

The total amount of carbohydrates minus dietary fiber is the number of net carbohydrates. Because it has an impact on blood sugar, the resulting “net carbohydrates” are the amount that needs to be measured.

Because fiber cannot be digested, it does not raise blood sugar levels and is removed from the total amount of carbohydrates. So choosing meals with more fiber will result in reduced net carbohydrate totals, which is one way to encourage healthy blood sugar levels.

A ripe banana will have more sugar, which is absorbed more quickly, and less resistant starch than green bananas. Fully ripe bananas can cause your blood sugar to increase more quickly since they have a greater GI than green, unripe bananas.

Alternatively, adding some proteins can slow down the spike in your blood sugar. Nut butter, a handful of nuts, and Greek yogurt are good sources of protein that go well with bananas.

Along with resistant starch, bananas are a good source of soluble fiber, which helps control blood sugar levels after meals. Due to their slow digestion, they also assist in controlling appetite.

Banana Nutritional Facts

A small banana (101g) provides approximately 90 calories. The main component of bananas is carbohydrates. There are approx. 23g of carbohydrates in a small banana, of which 2.63g is fiber and 12.3g of sugar.

A portion of the fiber in bananas turns to sugar as they ripen, so a ripe banana with brown spots has less fiber and more sugar than a raw banana of the same size.

Bananas are low in protein and fats. A smaller banana has nearly 1.1g of protein and 0.33g of fat.

The fruit has many health benefits because it’s abundant in nutrients. It has nearly 27.3mg of magnesium, 362mg of potassium, and 8.9mg of vitamin C.

Bananas Glycemic Index

The spike in blood glucose levels following consumption of a particular item is measured by the glycemic index (GI). A food is considered low GI if its GI score is 55 or lower, which indicates that it won’t significantly elevate blood sugar levels.

Some under-ripe bananas have a lower GI of 51, while ripe bananas have a lower GI of 42.

Avoid eating overripe bananas as they have a GI of 62.

Can People With Type 2 Diabetes Eat Bananas?

Resistant starch is known to improve insulin sensitivity. Unripe bananas are rich in them, which helps people with type 2 diabetes.

After meals, resistant starch is also particularly good at reducing blood sugar levels. If you take it in the morning, it will also lessen the blood sugar surge at lunch because it has a second meal effect.

Resistant starch may help you prevent chronic disease and enhance your quality of life by improving insulin sensitivity and reducing blood glucose levels. The vitamins and antioxidants found in bananas lower the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, two major complications of diabetes.

7 Health Benefits of Bananas for Diabetes

When it comes to bananas, there are numerous health benefits. Bananas include a variety of minerals, including antioxidants, which can benefit your general health. Let us look at some of the benefits of bananas for diabetes:

1. Bananas improve insulin sensitivity

Consuming 30g of resistant starch daily has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity.  Most of it is found in unripe bananas, which are sweeter, and more ripe bananas have less of it. Consume greener bananas for more of this healthy starch for the best results.

2. They reduce sugar spikes

One banana (126 g) contains approximately 3.28g of fiber. Fiber is an important component that one must include in their diet. For people with diabetes, fiber helps to slowly digest and absorb carbs. Dietary fiber helps to reduce sugar spikes and regulate blood sugar levels.

3. Bananas are rich in potassium

Almost all foods include potassium, a vital mineral. All body tissues contain potassium, which is necessary for healthy cell activity. Low intakes of potassium can raise the risk of illness due to its numerous biological functions.

Insulin production from pancreatic cells requires potassium; hypokalemia reduces insulin secretion and may cause glucose intolerance.

For instance, a study of 1,066 adults between the ages of 18 and 30 without diabetes indicated that those with urine potassium levels in the bottom bracket had a more than twice-higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes over a 15-year follow-up period.

4. Good source of antioxidants

Bananas are an excellent source of antioxidants. Bananas contain gallocatechin, one of the antioxidants. According to a study, strong antioxidant activity was observed in the banana peel’s gallocatechin.

The peel contained more gallocatechin than the pulp did. Therefore, the gallocatechin content of bananas may be responsible for their antioxidant potential.

5. Bananas contain a high amount of magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that is abundant in bananas. Magnesium has a role in your body’s ability to release insulin and may improve how well your cells metabolize it.

Magnesium shortage causes your body to become more insulin resistant. Numerous chronic cardiovascular disorders, such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and hyperlipidemia, have been linked to magnesium deficiency.

For instance, a 3-month study including 54 people with type 2 diabetes discovered that consuming 300mg of magnesium every day significantly lowered both fasting and post-meal blood sugar levels compared to taking a placebo pill.

Magnesium also promotes weight loss by increasing your metabolism.

6. They are gut-friendly

In addition to improving insulin sensitivity, studies show that resistant starch is gut-friendly. Banana reduces the symptoms of hyperacidity by preventing stomach ulcers on the lining. Additionally, it aids in protecting the stomach from harmful bacteria that might result in gastrointestinal problems.

7. They make you feel fuller

Soluble fiber found in bananas helps slow digestion and prolongs feelings of fullness. Bananas have a lot of soluble fiber, pectin, and resistant starch, which makes them good for reducing appetite. When you are satiated, you stop having unnecessary cravings and naturally lose weight.

Things to Consider Before Adding Bananas to Your Diet

Bananas can be an excellent snack for those with diabetes. With a low GI, high levels of potassium and magnesium, and a naturally sweet taste, bananas are considered a healthy fruit for someone who wants to avoid spikes in blood sugar. As long as you eat bananas in moderation, they are safe to eat.

Here are some of the suggestions you need to follow before you include bananas in your diet.

1. Consume in moderation

The majority of people with diabetes keep a daily and personal sugar and carbohydrate record. Therefore, make sure you know how many carbohydrates you can assign to the banana you want to eat and how many you are already consuming.

Additionally, you should limit how many bananas you eat each day and week. Bananas still have a lot of sugar, which you should watch in your diet.

You run the risk of consuming more carbohydrates as the banana is larger, which will eventually result in a rise in blood sugar levels. Be aware of portion size if you don’t want to raise your blood sugar levels.

2. Check the ripeness of the fruit before consuming

Ripe or overripe bananas contain a lot of sugar, so there are chances that there will be a spike in your blood sugar. Green bananas, on the other hand, contain resistant starch, which helps regulate blood sugar levels.

3. Pair it with a protein source

Try eating bananas with a protein source and distributing your daily carbohydrate consumption evenly to help lessen the effect bananas have on your blood sugar levels. Bananas can be a highly healthy component of a diabetes management plan when included in a fully balanced diet.

4. Avoid canned fruit

Always choose frozen or fresh fruit. Canned fruits often have less fiber and may have sugar added in the form of syrup. Because dried fruit has a lesser volume while maintaining the same amount of carbohydrates as fresh fruit, it is easy to consume more of it. 

Dried fruit can also have added sugar to it. Contrarily, unsweetened, plain frozen fruit is as nutrient-dense as fresh fruit and can help prevent food waste.

A Word From Our RD

It is crucial to maintain your blood sugar levels stable if you have diabetes. Some of the main medical problems of diabetes can be prevented or delayed with proper blood sugar control.

The impact of a banana on your blood sugar level depends on the size of the banana you consume. You will consume more carbohydrates and have a higher blood sugar spike if the banana is larger.

Also, pay attention to how ripe the fruit is. Resistant starch, which is present in green (unripe) bananas and doesn’t cause blood sugar levels to rise, may help with long-term blood sugar control. Overripe bananas could result in a greater blood sugar increase because they contain more sugar.

Conclusion

When consumed in moderation, bananas are a healthy and safe snack people with diabetes can enjoy. Including fresh food options like these fruits and vegetables in their diets is advised. Additionally, a banana has few calories and offers nutrition to the consumer.

Blood glucose levels will rise and fall depending on how many carbohydrates are present in a banana. As a result, keep an eye on your blood sugar levels and discuss your intake with your dietitian or physician.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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