Friday, January 25, 2013

Bananas are NOT “fattening”, but actually quite nutritious!

It boggles my mind that so many people come to me saying they avoid eating bananas because they believe them to be “fattening” and high in sugar. While, yes, they do contain sugar, I still rank them as one of the healthiest fruits for you, especially those of us fitness enthusiasts. Anything can be “fattening” if you eat more calories than you need, so why bananas specifically got this bad reputation is still unclear. Bananas do have less water content than other fruits, so they are more sugar-dense, but still, pretty low in calories and super high in nutrient quality!

One medium (7”, 120 g) banana has about 105 calories, 19 of sugar, no fat, and is a good source of fiber (3 g), potassium (13% DV), Vitamin C (15%), manganese (17%), and Vitamin B6 (22%). Bananas are great for athletes fueling a workout, providing healthy carbs post-workout, while also being a great source of electrolytes. They are also great for digestive health and may improve the absorption of calcium. A recent study shows that cyclists who ate bananas prior to exercise compared to those having a sports drink performed better and experienced a boost in mood due to a positive shift in dopamine. So, eating a banana before spinning may give you more power and make you happier while exercising!

My recommendation: Eat a banana before your morning workout to ensure that your body has energy and electrolytes to run on and keep you working hard. After a workout, eating a banana and nonfat yogurt or glass of milk is a much healthier recovery option than eating a processed sports bar or “protein shake.” Try freezing bananas (without the peel) and blending to make a faux-ice cream. When bananas are frozen, they get a very creamy consistency- thus the reason you see frozen banana stands popping up on boardwalks and frozen banana kitchen gadgets (see below!). Your kids will probably think they are just eating banana-flavored ice cream, so they won't even have to know it's healthy and low-calorie! 

Appalachian State University. "Bananas are as beneficial as sports drinks, study suggests."ScienceDaily, 29 May 2012. Web. 25 Jan. 2013.


BStro said...

Evidently a lot of folks are anti-banana (and anti-tropical fruits in general) ... presumably because they have a higher glycemic index than most other fruits. Thoughts?

Kelly Strogen, MS, RD, LDN said...

Great comment BStro... I'm not a huge fan of taking the Glycemic Index at face value. For those of you that are unaware "The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels after eating." I encourage everyone to look at the nutrient density and quality of a food as opposed to just the G.I. You will find that foods high in fat & sugar, like premium ice cream have a G.I of 37, whereas a raw banana usually comes up around 52. Premium ice cream has lots of fat which slows the raise in blood sugar. For healthy individuals, eating a banana is a great snack. For diabetics, I always recommend pairing fruit with a fat and/or protein to slow the raise in blood sugar (e.g: banana w/ PB or yogurt). I would not recommend a diabetic eat premium ice cream over a banana. Think more in terms of nutrients as opposed to the G.I. Just like not all grains are bad, you have to know to look for healthy whole grains ;-)

Andrew Gilbert said...

Also important, you can do a sweet simple magic trick. Great for kids.