Are Bananas Good for Diabetes?

Medically Reviewed on 4/16/2021

Bananas and diabetes

Bananas have gained a bad reputation for increasing blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. However, it is not completely true. Although a medium-sized banana has 22 grams of carbohydrates and a sweet flavor, there’s a lot more in bananas that would attenuate these negatives.

Bananas are rich in phytochemicals

Nearly all fruits have phytochemicals that lower your risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke. Because diabetes is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and other problems, people with diabetes should consume bananas in moderation.

Green bananas contain resistant starch

The carb content of bananas often varies with ripeness. Green, unripe bananas have less sugar and more resistant starch than yellow bananas.

Resistant starch is resistant to digestion in the upper digestive system, which means that it acts similarly to fiber. As a result, it does not cause a spike in blood sugar levels. The glycemic index (GI) of green bananas is about 30 to 50.

Moreover, green bananas are gut-microbe friendly and help you better manage diabetes. Studies have shown that resistant starch is more likely to help people with type 2 diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity and reducing inflammation. There hasn’t been much research about the role of resistant starch in type 1 diabetes.

Bananas contain fiber that promotes satiety

A medium-sized banana contains three grams of fiber. Dietary fiber should be included in your diet because it confers many benefits. Some of the benefits of dietary fiber in people with diabetes include

  • It slows digestion and the absorption of carbohydrates.
  • It reduces overall blood sugar spikes and manages diabetes well.

Bananas have a low-to-medium glycemic index

Glycemic index (GI) is a value assigned to food depending on how rapidly or how slowly it increases blood glucose levels.

There are three types of GI

  • Low GI: 55 or less
  • Medium GI: 56 to 69
  • High GI: 70 to 100

Foods that have a lower GI are absorbed slowly and cause a gradual change in blood sugar levels.

Bananas have a GI of 42 to 62, depending on the ripeness. It is always preferable for people with diabetes to eat bananas that are slightly green because they have a lower GI compared to overripe bananas.

Bananas are rich in vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 plays a pivotal role in the prevention of diabetes-related complications such as

Bananas are packed with potassium

If you have a low potassium level, your body makes less insulin, causing your blood sugar levels to spike. Studies have revealed that people with low potassium levels are more susceptible to type 2 diabetes than those with normal potassium levels. It is not known whether a low potassium level directly causes diabetes. Still, it might be prudent to test your potassium levels if you are at risk of developing diabetes.

Bananas have antioxidants

Studies have shown that antioxidants have a protective effect against type 2 diabetes development because they impede the formation of free radicals. However, more research is required to prove the efficacy of antioxidants against type 2 diabetes.

Excess antioxidants are not recommended.

If you have diabetes and wish to include bananas in your diet, remember the following guidance

  • Eat a smaller banana to reduce your sugar intake.
  • Always eat a firm, ripe banana. Do not go for overripe bananas.
  • Avoid drinking banana milkshakes or smoothies.
  • Eat bananas with other protein or healthy fats.
  • Spread your fruit intake out throughout the day.
  • Avoid eating fruit immediately after meals. Have it as a mid-meal snack.

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Medically Reviewed on 4/16/2021
References
Medscape Medical Reference

American Diabetes Association


Plant Foods for Human Nutrition