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Banana 101: Calories, Nutrition, and Other Cool Facts

Written by Lucyenne AngelineUpdated on May 19, 2023
Amy Rogers MD

Medical reviewed byAmy Rogers, MD MPH FACPM

Preventive Medicine, Public Health, Lifestyle Medicine, Pandemic Response, Global Health

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Everyone knows that eating fruit is essential for good health. One of the most popular go-to-fruits, with its upbeat tropical vibe, is the banana. They are loved for their delicious taste and low-cost. Surprisingly, the unique health benefits bananas have are often overlooked. We delve into banana nutrition, surprising health benefits, banana allergies, and food safety. Brush up on your banana facts and find out if you should be eating more of them.

Fruity banana facts

Sometimes, the popularity of bananas leaves them somewhat taken for granted. Every fruit is a winner, but here are some fruity banana facts from beneath the peel:
  1. The banana is actually a big berry. Berries, like bananas, have their seeds embedded throughout the flesh.
  2. Bananas are radioactive! But, the amount of the radiation is only 0.1 μSv (1). Radiation is harmful above 100 μSv (2), which equals eating 1,000 bananas in a day. 
  3. National Banana Day is celebrated on the third Wednesday of April. You may not get the day off, but make sure to start it with a healthy banana. 
  4. There are more than 1,000 banana varieties, some with red skin, grown in over 150 countries. The Cavendish is the most commercialized variety.

Banana nutrition beneath the peel

The raw essentials of a banana are carbohydrates and fiber. They are, however, a rich source of resistant starch (starch which functions as fiber), vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium along with other nutrients. 
Banana sizes vary a lot, but a small 6 to 7 inch banana weighs around 100 grams. Here are some of the nutritional values per 100 g of raw ripe banana (33). 
  • Calories: 98 kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 23 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 4.62 grams
  • Protein: 0.74 grams
  • Fat: 0.29 grams
  • Vitamin C: 12.3 mg  (14% DV)
  • Vitamin B6: 0.21 mg (12% DV)
  • Magnesium: 28 mg (7% DV)
  • Potassium: 326 mg (7% DV)
  • Phosphorus: 22 mg (2% DV) 
  • Calcium: 5 mg (1% DV) 
Sugars (sucrose, fructose, and glucose), fiber and starch are the primary carbohydrates contained in ripe bananas (44).
Not to be ignored, are antioxidants. These include catechin, anthocyanins, salicylic acid, gallic acid and caffeic acid (566).

10 Proven health benefits of eating bananas regularly

Based on their nutritional value, bananas are considered quite beneficial for your health if eaten regularly. Here are ten reasons why you should be including a banana into your diet every day.

1. A weight loss partner

Bananas don’t have any magical enzymes to melt away fat. However, through healthy digestive support, they make a good weight loss partner. Foods rich in fiber and resistant starch content, such as found in bananas, make you feel full—so you have less desire to eat (77). 

2. Prebiotics for gut health

Resistant starch has various properties, but it acts as a prebiotic to support digestive health. 
Resistant starch cannot be broken down by enzymes in the small intestine. Instead, it arrives in the large intestine as an energy source for healthy gut bacteria (8899). Therefore, foods rich in resistant starch, such as bananas, can help with bowel movements to clear out waste (77).

3. A low-glycemic fruit

Another benefit of resistant starch is its ability to increase insulin sensitivity and improve blood sugar (10). For this reason, bananas are also categorized as a low-glycemic index food (11). 
Research supports that a diet high in resistant starch and low-glycemic foods can reduce insulin production and the risk of chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes (121213). 

4. Nutrients for healthy skin

Bananas contain several kinds of antioxidants, including catechin, anthocyanins, and polyphenols (66). 
Antioxidants are important for reducing inflammation and fighting off free radical formation, including in skin cells. They may help in decreasing wrinkle depth and increasing skin elasticity (14). 
Furthermore, antioxidants, such as vitamin C, help the body in activating collagen production which can improve skin health (1515). 

5. Folk medicinal healing

More than just a healthy food, the banana plant has numerous uses in traditional cultures (16). 
In a scientific study, compounds found in unripe green banana extract applied topically were found to have potential to improve wound healing process diabetic wounds. 
Furthermore, extracts from unripe green bananas, which are rich in antioxidants and Vitamin C, have been shown to have skin healing properties (17).

6. Better concentration 

Apart from an energy boost, bananas can help with better focus and alertness. This is linked to Vitamin B6 contained in bananas, that supports brain and nerve function (5).

7. Helps with kidney stones

Potassium, a key nutrient in bananas, helps to improve kidney function. It works to balance out calcium and oxalate content in your body by decreasing urinary excretion of calcium (18). Thereby, lessening the risk of kidney stones from calcium in the urine (1919). 

8. Minerals for bone support

Bananas contain minerals important for bone health and preventing bone mineral density loss. These minerals include magnesium and phosphorus (20). Potassium might also have an indirect role by reducing calcium excretion. 

9. Potassium for blood pressure

The combination of resistant starch and potassium is a key health benefit of bananas. Research has shown that banana juice can help in lowering blood pressure (9).  
To put it simply, the more potassium you eat, the more sodium you excrete through urine. Potassium also eases the tension in the blood vessel walls, which can further lower blood pressure (21).  

10. A booster for athletes

Bananas are a reliable source of energy, rich in easy to digest carbohydrates (22). Minerals such as potassium and magnesium may also act as electrolytes which may reduce the risk of muscle cramps or contractions (23232424).
Various studies point to the health benefits of bananas if consumed regularly. Some of the most promising benefits are improved energy, better digestive health, and greater insulin sensitivity. Bananas also help to lower blood pressure and can increase concentration.

Possible allergies and adverse effects

Allergies or intolerance to bananas can occur. It is usually connected to sensitivity to latex and pollens—but sometimes avocado, chestnut, and kiwi fruit (25). These all share the same allergen component, namely chitinases protein.
There are several symptoms that might appear in people after eating or even touching bananas. The mild symptoms may include bloating, swollen lips, cramps, diarrhea, itching throat, and vomiting (26). 
However, there are also some severe symptoms to keep in mind, especially for those with pollen or latex allergies. These include a swollen mouth and throat, urticaria (severely itchy skin), loss of consciousness, and even anaphylaxis (262727).
Since bananas are popular, these allergies can be troublesome. However, children with mild symptoms are likely to outgrow the allergy (2828). However, people with severe allergies are better off avoiding bananas.
1. Are bananas healthy to eat everyday?
Yes, eating one to two bananas a day is safe and healthy. They are a good source of  nutrients and eating bananas regularly have proven health benefits. You should, however, eat a variety of fruits and other foods for optimal nutrition.
2. What is the best time to eat bananas?
You can eat a banana any time. Morning is ideal for an energy boost from easy-to-digest carbohydrates. An afternoon banana snack can reduce hunger and the risk of overeating in the evening. Before bed, magnesium content can increases melatonin production for better sleep.
3. Who should avoid bananas?
People with pollen and latex allergies are more likely to have a banana allergy. This is because these substances share the same allergen component as in bananas, namely class 1 chitinases protein. 
4. Is a banana a day too much sugar?
For the recommended 2,000 calories per day, sugar intake should be around 50 grams or less. One medium banana contains 15.8 grams or about 3.78 teaspoons total sugars, so one medium banana a day is okay. However, this really depends on your diet, health condition, and daily activity.


Storage and food safety

Bananas are best stored at around 12 ℃. At a room temperature of 25 ℃ they will fully ripen within 4 days and spoil by the tenth day. If you refrigerate your bananas, they will ripen in 16 days and last up to 21 days (29). 
Overripe bananas will lose some of their weight, soften and color change. They will also become a little sour and sugar levels will increase. Once the banana begins to release liquid and grow mold, it is no longer safe to eat. 

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