Bananas and Diabetes

Bananas and Diabetes
Diabetes-friendly:

It's ok

Glycemic index:

52

Calories per 100 g:

99 kcal

People with diabetes have to follow an appropriate diet to regulate blood sugar levels and keep blood sugar spikes under control. Since blood sugar depends largely upon the foods that we eat, it is important to be mindful of what you are putting into your body if you have diabetes.

One controversy that can arise in a diabetes diet is whether it is acceptable to eat fruits, since they tend to be higher in sugar than other foods. Bananas can be particularly controversial, since they are relatively high in carbohydrates. So, can you eat bananas when you have diabetes? Learn some answers below.

 

Nutritional value

  • Protein 1.09 g
  • Carbohydrate 22.84 g
  • Fat 0.33 g
  • Fiber 1.7 g
  • Sugar 12.23 g
  • Cholesterol 0 g

Fruit and the Diabetes Diet

Before diving into the safety of adding bananas to the diabetes diet, it is helpful to look at the nutritional benefit of fruit in general for people who have diabetes. A study in the Nutrition Journal found that when people with diabetes followed an appropriate diabetic diet, their blood sugar levels decreased, whether they consumed a high amount of fruit or a low amount of fruit. This suggests that it is more than safe to incorporate fruit into a diabetes-friendly diet.

Furthermore, consuming fruits may actually prevent a person from developing diabetes. A study in the British Medical Journal found that whole fruit intake was linked to a lower risk of diabetes. Blueberries, grapes, and pears were all associated with a reduced diabetes risk, and consuming three servings of bananas per week was found to lower diabetes risk by 5 percent. While this may not be an astonishing finding, it does show that eating bananas shouldn't be much of a concern for those with diabetes, especially when consumed in moderation and with portion sizes in mind.

 

Nutrition Content of Bananas

Bananas come with a sweet flavor, which may make it seem like they aren't particularly nutritious, but an analysis of the nutrition content of bananas paints a different picture. A medium-sized banana has the following nutritional profile:

  • 110 calories

  • 0 grams fat

  • 1 gram protein

  • 28 grams carbohydrates

  • 15 grams sugar

  • 3 grams fiber

  • 450 mg potassium

 

Keep in mind that the sugar in bananas is naturally occurring, and because bananas provide a decent dose of fiber, they do not increase blood sugar levels the way that processed sugary foods like cookies and candies do. Unripe bananas may be especially healthy, because they contain resistant starch, which acts similarly to fiber. This means it regulates blood sugars and promotes a healthy gut. Even ripe bananas are a nutritious food choice, as they come with 3 grams of fiber and are a good source of potassium.

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The Glycemic Index of Bananas

Beyond the nutritional profile of bananas, it is important to consider the glycemic index of this fruit. Glycemic index refers to how much a particular food causes blood sugar levels to increase after a person eats it. Experts often recommend that individuals with diabetes consume foods that are lower in the glycemic index, in order to manage blood sugar.

Foods with a glycemic index (GI) of under 55 are considered low on the GI scale, because they do not cause a significant increase in blood sugar levels. A ripe banana has a GI of 51, making this fruit low on the GI scale. This means that despite the fact that bananas have a relatively high carbohydrate content, they do not cause a significant increase in blood sugar. Unripe bananas have an even lower GI, falling at just 42. People who have concerns that bananas will cause high blood sugar can rest assured that this fruit can be incorporated into a healthy diabetes diet.

Despite the low GI of bananas, some people may worry about the glycemic load of this fruit. Glycemic load is based upon the carbohydrate content of a food, and given that a medium banana has 28 grams of carbohydrates, it has a medium glycemic load. This may be concerning to people with diabetes, but the carbohydrate content of bananas is in the form of resistant starch, which is broken down slowly and does not cause sugar to be released into the blood as quickly. Ultimately, resistant starch has a low gi and keeps people feeling satiated for longer.

 

Health Benefits of Bananas

In addition to the fact that bananas are low gi foods, this healthy fruit comes with numerous benefits. First, consider the fact that bananas are a good source of fiber, which helps to keep blood sugar levels stable.

Bananas are also an excellent source of potassium, delivering 23% of the potassium you need on a daily basis. Potassium allows muscles to function properly, reduces blood pressure, and lowers the risk of stroke. Finally, bananas are packed with vitamins that keep the teeth and bones healthy, enhance the functioning of the brain and the immune system, and promote the healing and growth of body tissue.

Based on their health benefits, eating bananas is an easy way to get the nutrition you need while managing your blood sugar levels. Because of their content of non-digestible fibers, bananas are absorbed slowly, which keeps blood sugar levels steady and provides you with a steady stream of energy.

The potassium content of bananas also means that they can reduce muscle cramps, and the benefits of this essential nutrient are so strong that the government has allowed the banana industry to make claims that this fruit reduces risk of stroke and high blood pressure.

Additional benefits of bananas have been demonstrated in studies:

  • Protection of brain cells, which may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease

  • Reduced risk of heartburn and stomach ulcers

  • Improved digestive system functioning

  • Lowered cholesterol levels from dietary fiber content

  • Enhanced kidney functioning and reduced risk of kidney stones

  • Boost in immune system functioning from vitamin B6

  • Increased energy levels, especially during physical activity

  • Improvement in mood and reduced risk of depression

  • Better absorption of nutrients

  • Treatment of constipation and diarrhea

Based upon what we know from nutrition science, bananas are full of health benefits, making them an ideal food for anyone. Given the fact that bananas can regulate blood sugar levels, they are also healthy for people with diabetes.

 

Expert Recommendations

If you're not convinced of the health benefits of bananas, consider the fact that the American Diabetes Association recommends that fruits be incorporated into a balanced diet for diabetes. They recommend fresh fruits without added sugars, making bananas an ideal choice.

To keep portion sizes in control, a small banana is recommended, and it can take the place of other carb sources like starches or grains. To limit sugar content, it is best to avoid dried bananas, as just 2 tablespoons contains 15 carbohydrates. A whole, fresh banana has less sugar than dried fruits.

 

Incorporating Bananas into the Diet

You can certainly eat bananas if you are living with diabetes. There is plenty of evidence and expert advice that indicates that fruits are healthy and can be safely incorporated into the diets of people with diabetes.

If you're looking for ways to consume bananas and enjoy the benefits of the essential nutrients in this fruit, you might consider pairing a small banana with a serving of nut butter, which will provide a dose of healthy fats. Be sure to keep portion sizes under control, as nut butters tend to be high in calories. One tablespoon is appropriate to pair with a banana.

Some people may enjoy eating a banana with a low-sugar Greek yogurt, or including it in a fruit salad with other tasty fruit.

For those who want to know additional ways to include banana in the diet, or who simply want to enjoy a variety of healthy foods, the recipes below may be of interest.

 

Banana Bread

Banana bread is a favorite comfort food recipe, and you can use a sugar substitute like Swerve to make it diabetes friendly. For this recipe, you'll need the following ingredients:

  • 2 cups of all purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 cup sugar alternative like Swerve (choose one that measures 1:1 with sugar)

  • 1 stick softened butter

  • 2 beaten eggs

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 3 overripe bananas

Prepare the bread using these steps:

  1. Mash your bananas, preheat the oven to 325 degrees, and line a loaf pan with parchment paper.

  2. Use a whisk to mix flour, baking soda, and baking powder.

  3. Beat your eggs in a separate bowl.

  4. Use another mixing bowl, and add your sugar alternative and butter. Cream them together, then add in the beaten eggs and vanilla extract.

  5. Add the flour mixture to the bowl containing the ingredients in step 4 above. For best results, add half of the flour mixture at once.

  6. Once all ingredients are fully mixed, fold in the bananas.

Bake the bread for 65-70 minutes, checking occasionally to ensure it's not burned.

The estimated nutritional content of the banana bread is 155 calories, 20 grams of carbohydrates, and 3 grams of sugar per slice.

 

Banana Chocolate Parfait

Make this banana chocolate parfait for a sweet, diabetes-friendly treat. You'll need the ingredients below:

  • 1 cup yogurt (plain, low-fat)

  • 1 box of sugar-free chocolate pudding mix

  • 2 medium bananas

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • 1/4 reduced fat frozen whipped topping

  • 1 tablespoon walnuts, chopped

The following steps are used to prepare the banana chocolate parfait:

  1. Blend the yogurt and pudding mix.

  2. Peel the bananas and cut each into 6 pieces, then sprinkle with lemon juice.

  3. Put 2 pieces of banana each into 4 parfait glasses.

  4. Top with 1/4 of the pudding mix and 1 tablespoon shipped topping

  5. Sprinkle with walnuts on top.

This recipe serves 4, and each serving contains 138 calories and 25 grams of carbohydrates.

 

Banana Muffins

You can also enjoy banana muffins as a part of your diabetes diet. Use the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour

  • 3/4 cup granular sucralose sweetener

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 2 egg whites

  • 1 cup ripe banana

  • 1/4 cup applesauce

The steps below will produce the recipe:

  1. Mash the banana, preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin.

  2. Mix flour, sucralose sweetener, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large bowl.

  3. Combine egg whites, mashed banana, and applesauce in a separate bowl.

  4. Mix wet and dry ingredients together until blended.

  5. Fill each of the muffin cups in the muffin tin 3/4 of the way full.

  6. Bake muffins for 15 to 18 minutes, and then allow to cool before removing from the pan.

The good news about these banana muffins is that they contain just 77 calories each. You won't need to worry too much about the carb intake, as one muffin contains 17 grams of carbohydrates.

 

The Bottom Line on Diabetes and Bananas

If you have diabetes, you can enjoy bananas and other fruits in moderation. There is no need to avoid fruit, as it is nutritious and can be a part of a balanced diet. When you add bananas to your diet, you can satisfy your sweet tooth while getting a healthy dose of fiber and other vital nutrients.

Bananas may even reduce high blood pressure, and there is no evidence that bananas affect blood sugar negatively. In fact, bananas can help to keep blood glucose levels within a healthy range, since they are a good source of fiber, which slows the release of sugar into the bloodstream. They are also satiating and will curb your appetite, so you aren't tempted to overeat on snacks. The healthy recipes here can help you to add bananas to your diet to enjoy the nutritional benefits that come along with this fruit.

For people looking for support for managing diabetes, it can be helpful to download the Klinio diabetes app. The app offers time-saving resources, such as personalized diabetes meal plans and at-home workouts, so you can make the lifestyle changes necessary for keeping blood sugar levels in check.

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