Banana Nutrition Facts: Calories and Health Benefits

Are Bananas Good or Bad for Your Diet?

Spoon of granola, banana slice and coconut flakes
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There are some diet experts who will tell you that bananas are bad for weight loss. Then again, most diets encourage you to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. This can make you wonder if bananas can really be good for your diet.

While bananas do have more sugars and calories than some other fruits, they're not necessarily bad for you. In fact, they're packed with healthy vitamins and a great source of energy.

If you are a banana lover can still enjoy this fruit, you'll simply want to keep portions in control and choose your bananas wisely.

Banana Calories and Nutrition Facts

Banana Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 medium (7" to 7-7/8" long) (118 g)
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 105 
Calories from Fat 4 
Total Fat 0.4g1%
Saturated Fat 0.1g1%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1g 
Monounsaturated Fat 0g 
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 1mg0%
Potassium 422.44mg12%
Carbohydrates 27g9%
Dietary Fiber 3.1g12%
Sugars 14.4g 
Protein 1.3g 
Vitamin A 2% · Vitamin C 17%
Calcium 1% · Iron 2%
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

There are 105 calories in a medium-sized banana. A medium banana is about 7 to 8 inches long. Many of the bananas that you find in the local grocery store are larger than that. Since you probably don't get out a tape measure for your fruit, a safe estimate is that the average banana contains 90 to 120 calories, depending on its size.

How do banana calories compare to calories in other fruit? A medium apple provides about 115 calories. A medium-sized orange provides about 62 calories. Berries are generally the lowest in calories. A half cup of raspberries provides just 32 calories and a half cup of blueberries provides about 41 calories.

Many dieters eat half a banana to stay on the safe side and keep their calorie count in control. Half a banana would only provide 45 to 60 calories. However, bananas don't keep very well after they are peeled, so the other half often goes to waste, though there are ways around that. 

Another handy fact for dieters is that there is almost no fat in a banana. They do, however, have a creamy consistency so they add a fatty, creamy taste to smoothies and other healthy foods. They also do a great job of satisfying cravings for a fatty food. 

Carbohydrates in Bananas

The amount of carbohydrate in a banana will vary with the size of the fruit as well. In general, you can expect 15 grams effective (net) carbohydrate for 1/2 cup of sliced bananas. This portion also offers 2 grams fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 67 calories.

Since most bananas we buy are large, it's a good idea to know the carb counts in those as well. One large banana (8 to 9 inches long) will have 31 grams effective (net) carbohydrate, 3.5 grams fiber, 17 grams of sugar, and 121 calories.

As you can see, that's double the 1/2-cup serving, which is why it's a good idea for low-carb dieters to stick to the smaller amount. Come up with ways to preserve the other half.

Freezing it and reserving it for smoothies is a great way to avoid waste.

Health Benefits of Bananas

Sure, bananas are slightly higher in calories than some other fruits, but they do have a lot to offer. Eating a banana can be a great energy boost and it's a good source of other healthy nutrients as well. Bananas provide a nutritious dose of heart-healthy potassium, vitamin B6, manganese, and fiber. Fiber is important for dieters because it helps you feel fuller longer so you eat less during the day.

Vitamin C is another benefit of eating bananas and a medium banana can provide you with about 17 percent of your daily value.

This is a key vitamin because it aids in repairing tissue and can help wounds heal. Vitamin C is also good for maintaining healthy bones, teeth, skin, muscles, and blood vessels.

If you enjoy your bananas on the green side, you can also benefit from its resistant starch. This can help keep your colon healthy by introducing good bacteria.

When you compare banana nutrition to the nutrition of other diet-friendly 100-calorie snacks, bananas look pretty good. This easy-to-carry snack can help curb cravings for a sweet treat much better than a snack bar or dried fruit. It is also low in saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol.

Sugar and the Glycemic Load

Even though a banana provides about 14 grams of sugar, it's a low-glycemic food. A medium banana has an estimated glycemic load of 10 and a 1/2 cup of sliced bananas is about 6. Bananas convert starch to sugar as they ripen. This means that the riper your bananas are, the more sugars they contain. Keep this in mind when watching your sugar intake.

Is the Banana Peel Edible?

Most of us are accustomed to eating only the fruit of the banana and tossing the peel in the garbage. However, banana peels are edible—though not as sweet—and have a lot of nutritional benefits. The peel has a high amount of vitamins B6 and B12, magnesium, and potassium.

While you can eat them raw, it's often recommended to cook the peels. Most often they're boiled, but an unpeeled banana can also be blended into a smoothie if you remove both ends.

Are Bananas Bad for Weight Loss?

Some experts will tell you to avoid bananas because they are higher in sugar than other fruits. If you eat a large banana or a lot of bananas, the calories can be very high as well. However, portion control is important for dieters no matter what kind of food you're eating and bananas are no different.

If you love bananas, don't worry. You probably don't need to eliminate them from your diet. Yet, if you're trying to lose weight, you should count the banana calories just like the calories in a cookie or in a pasta dish.

Eat half a banana as a snack to keep your calorie count in control or eat a banana as part of a healthy low-calorie breakfast. Just remember to include your banana calories in your total count for the day for successful weight loss.

Picking and Storing Bananas

When purchasing bananas, choose the fruit based on your taste preferences. If you like a creamier sweeter banana, buy bananas that are slightly riper. Keep in mind that these do have more sugar, though.

The way you store bananas depends on your preference as well. If you like a sweeter softer banana then keep them on the counter and allow them to ripen. You can speed the ripening process by putting them in a paper bag with an apple overnight.

To slow down the ripening process, keep your bananas in the refrigerator. Contrary to popular belief, this is okay. While the peel may turn black, the fruit inside will not spoil as fast as it would at room temperature.

Bananas can also be frozen. If you plan to use them in smoothies, you can peel bananas, cut them in half, flash freeze them, and then keep them in a resealable container. If you freeze bananas with the peels on, thaw them at room temperature. While you can put them in the microwave for 5 seconds, it will change the texture.

Healthy Ways to Prepare Bananas

There are many different ways to enjoy bananas when you're trying to lose weight. Add sliced banana to your plain oatmeal or yogurt to get a healthy dose of sweetness. You can also spread mashed banana (instead of jam) over peanut butter on a piece of whole wheat bread.  

Frozen bananas are a yummy substitute for ice cream. Drizzle a frozen mashed banana with a small amount of dark chocolate. Add a few crushed almonds and you’ll have a delicious, low-calorie sundae. Alternatively, you could invest in Yonanas, a cool kitchen gadget that makes soft serve "ice cream" out of frozen bananas.

Banana Recipes

If you like to cook, try any of these healthy banana recipes:

Bananas also add a unique creamy consistency to recipes and blended foods. If you're trying to lose weight, add half a banana to your smoothie instead of ice cream or yogurt. You will still get a smooth, creamy texture, but without the added fat or extra calories.

Source:

USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28.

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