Should You Eat Green Bananas
Fun fact: Green unripe bananas contain less sugar than their ripe, yellow brethren and more dietary fiber in the form of resistant starch and pectin.
A good rule of thumb is that the more ripe a banana is, the higher its sugar content is. This is why a banana can rank anywhere from 42 to 62 on the glycemic index.
The Worst Fruits For People With Diabetes
Serving size is important for all fruits, especially those high on the glycemic index. Fienman recommends thinking about the serving size of a whole fruit to the size of a tennis ball and cut up fruit to a ½ cup. Even in these small servings, some fruits have more natural sugars and may spike blood sugar longer.
These fruits contain a high amount of natural sugars:
Watch Out For Fructose
Another drawback of bananas is the amount of fructose in them.
What is fructose, you ask?
Well, fructose is the simple sugar that gives fruit its sweet taste and is one of the reasons that ripe fruit is so darn appealing!
In small quantities, fructose isnt a big problem. But snacking on fruits with medium-to-high levels of fructose throughout the day can really throw your metabolism for a loop.
A medium-sized banana contains about 7.1 grams of fructose. Compared to the major sugar-bombs like mangoes and raisins , bananas might seem like a pretty safe bet, but consider these facts about fructose before you make that call.
To start off, fructose has been known to disrupt the gut microbiome gut bacteria responsible for helping to stabilize your metabolism, immune system, hormones, and overall health.
Eating a high fructose diet can also leave you feeling constantly hungry and unsatisfied, because fructose can scramble the hunger hormones in your body.
When the hormones ghrelin, leptin, and insulin arent communicating properly with the rest of your body and brain, you will feel hungry all the time and youre more likely to reach for high carb junk food and thats a recipe for blood sugar disaster!
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Are Green Bananas Healthier Than Ripe Ones
Green bananas often come up in conversations about fruit intake and blood sugar because green bananas contain resistant starch.
Unlike regular starchy foods , resistant starch moves through the gastrointestinal track undigested.
Because resistant starch remains mostly undigested, it has a lower impact on blood sugar than other starches do.
But does that mean that diabetics can eat endless amounts of green bananas without any negative side effects?
Green bananas dont automatically get a free pass just because they dont raise your blood sugar as much as a ripe banana would.
You still have to take the total number of carbohydrates into account when deciding which foods to snack on and which ones to toss. And overall, green bananas still contain the high levels of carbs that a ripe banana does .
A few studies have found that banana starch may decrease glucose and insulin level after a meal. But, keep in mind that these studies often use isolated starch that is separated from the actual fruit, and therefore, does not contain any of the carbohydrates and sugars.
The key point: green or ripe, whole bananas are packed with carbohydrates and will result in an increase in blood glucose levels compared to other lower carb options.
Bananas And Diabetes: The Bottom Line
Bananas can be a good choice for people with diabetes as long as you eat them in moderation and opt for less-ripe bananas. While bananas do have a medium glycemic index, they tend to raise blood sugar levels more than fruits such as apples, which have both a lower GI and GL than bananas do.
If you have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, Karner recommends that you eat a small portion of banana start with half of the fruit and then test your blood sugar to see exactly how your body responds.
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Add Cinnamon To Coffee To Help Lower Blood Sugar
Adding flavor to your plate by way of diabetes-friendly spices is another possible management tool, and when it comes to sweetening food, consider adding cinnamon to the top of your list. A study published in September 2013 in the Annals of Family Medicine suggests the spice is associated with a drop in fasting blood sugar levels, while other research shows it may help increase insulin sensitivity, reduce inflammation, and lower LDL cholesterol. While more research is still needed, a sprinkle of cinnamon never hurts. Your taste buds will thank you and your blood sugar levels may improve, to boot.
Try sweetening your oatmeal with cinnamon or adding the spice to your morning cup of joe.
Preventing Low Blood Sugar Levels
Here are some other tips to help you avoid low blood sugar levels:
- Eat all your meals and snacks on time and try not to skip any.
- Take the right amount of insulin.
- If you exercise longer or harder than usual, have an extra snack.
- Don’t take a hot bath or shower right after an insulin shot.
- Stick to your diabetes management plan.
- Check your blood sugar levels regularly, so you can tell if your blood sugars are running too low and your treatment plan needs adjustment.
- Carry something containing sugar with you at all times and take it right away if you have symptoms. Don’t wait to see if the symptoms will go away they may get worse!
Alcohol and drugs can cause major problems with your blood sugar levels, so avoiding them is another way to prevent diabetes problems. Drinking can be particularly dangerous even deadly for people with diabetes because it messes up the body’s ability to keep blood glucose in a normal range. This can cause a very rapid drop in blood glucose in people with diabetes. Drug or alcohol use is also dangerous because it may affect someone’s ability to sense low blood sugar levels.
Learning how to recognize the signs of low blood sugar levels and get them back to normal is an important part of caring for diabetes. Keeping track of your blood sugar levels and recording lows when they occur will help you and your diabetes health care team keep your blood sugar levels in a healthy range.
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What You Can Do
Most of the sugar or glucose in your blood comes from carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the sugars and starches in grains, beans, vegetables, fruit, milk and milk products, honey, and sugar. If you dont have diabetes and youre feeling the unpleasant effects of a drop in blood sugar, eat or drink something with carbohydrates. Good choices are a piece of fruit, a few whole wheat crackers, a glass of milk, or a carton of yogurt.
In people with diabetes, hypoglycemia can come on suddenly and needs to be treated right away so it doesnt get worse. Eat or drink a quickly digested carbohydrate food, such as:
½ cup fruit juice
½ cup of a regular soft drink
1 cup of milk
5 or 6 hard candies
4 or 5 saltine crackers
2 tablespoons of raisins
3 to 4 teaspoons of sugar or honey
3 or 4 glucose tablets or a serving of glucose gel
Each of these choices provides about 15 grams of carbohydrate. Wait for 15 or 20 minutes, then check your blood sugar with a blood glucose meter. If your blood sugar is still low, have another portion of carbohydrates.
Healthful Ways To Incorporate Fruits Into A Diabetic Diet:
- Keep in mind that fruit juice is not a fruit. Regular fruit juice has added sugars and it does not contain the fiber of a whole fruit. Studies show that drinking excess fruit juice has been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Diet fruit juice, although not a fruit, has less calories and carbohydrates than regular fruit juice. See my article on diet cranberry juice and see how it compares to regular juice.
- Refrain from purchasing canned fruits and vegetables because they possess higher carb and sugar content for increased sweetness and shelf stability. If canned items are something you frequently enjoy, remember to read the label on the can. Many times, there is more than one serving per can. When purchasing canned fruits, I recommend those that are packed in light juice. They will have less calories with a lower carb content.
- Making fresh or frozen fruits and food products a priority is critical for people with diabetes. Canned goods are packed in sugar or sodium.
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Limiting Blood Sugar Spikes
Even foods low on the glycemic index will cause blood sugar spikes if you eat a lot of them, so watch your serving size. Eating foods that are high in carbohydrates or high on the glycemic index along with foods that don’t contain much carbohydrate or foods that are very low on the glycemic index will help minimize increases in your blood sugar levels, since these foods typically make it so your meal takes longer to digest. This means glucose is released into your blood more slowly, limiting the overall effect of the food on your blood sugar level.
How Much Fruit Can Somebody With Diabetes Eat
When someone consumes carbohydrates, such as those in bananas, the beta cells in the pancreas secrete insulin. Insulin is a hormone that allows your cells to absorb glucose and serve as energy.
When a person has diabetes, this process does not work as well as it should. Instead, the body either does not produce enough insulin, or the cells are resistant to the insulin that is produced.
Current guidelines recommend 2-4 servings of fruit per day for diabetics. This is the same recommendation for the general population.
Keep in mind that every body is a different body, and everyone may have a different BG response to different fruits and foods. For this reason, some people with diabetes will restrict their fruit intake further because they are worried about the sugar content.
Schedule an appointment with a Registered Dietitian, who will help individualize a meal plan that suits your lifestyle.
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They May Cause Weight Gain
Not only are bananas higher in carbohydrates than other fruits such as berries, tomatoes, coconuts, or avocados, but they also have a hefty number of calories as well.
A typical banana has around 100 calories, so eating bananas in excess can really add up and may cause weight gain.
Always work with your doctor and/or nutritionist to develop a balanced eating plan that will work for you.
Glycemic Index Tells Us How Quickly Our Carbs Become Blood Sugar
How quickly the carbohydrate in your food becomes, blood sugar depends on which carbohydrates are in your food and how accessible they are to your body.
The GI system rates food using a number up to 100 to indicate how quickly the carbohydrates in the food will enter your blood as sugar, based on average measurements after people have eaten the food. As an example, a banana has a GI of 51 while table sugar has a GI of 63.
These numbers tell us that the average person will experience a greater increase in blood sugar levels after eating sugar compared with a banana. In this case, the difference between the two comes down to a concept called the ‘food matrix’.â
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They Have Benefits For Your Blood Sugar
Having high blood sugar levels is a major health concern.
If left untreated over time, it may lead to type 2 diabetes and raise the risk of other serious health problems.
Both the pectin and resistant starch in green bananas may help control blood sugar after meals .
Unripe green bananas also rank low on the glycemic index, with a value of 30. Well-ripened bananas have a score of around 60 (
The scale runs from 0 to 100, and lower values are good for blood sugar control.
The pectin and resistant starch in green bananas can help control your blood sugar levels, especially after meals.
Green bananas are generally considered to be healthy. However, there have been some online reports of people experiencing discomfort after eating them.
This includes digestive symptoms like:
Additionally, you may want to be careful with green bananas if youre allergic to latex.
They contain proteins that are similar to the allergy-causing proteins in latex, which may cause reactions for people with a latex allergy. This condition is known as the latex-fruit syndrome .
Green bananas are considered healthy, although they may cause digestive problems in some people. People with a latex allergy may also experience complications when eating them.
Resistant Starch Is Good For You Too
Green or unripe bananas contain less sugar. But there is another way they can impact your health.
Resistant starch can be great for you. After all, it feeds the bacteria in your gut. This improves your bodys insulin production.
Unripe bananas have high resistant starch levels. You should definitely consider adding them to your diet.
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Your Diabetes Diet: What Foods Can Help Control Blood Sugar
While medication, sleep, stress, and time of day can all play a role in diabetes management, experts agree that diet is one of the most important factors to keep in mind. Thats because specific food choices can have a direct effect on your blood sugar levels, says Toby Smithson, RDN, CDE, the coauthor of Diabetes Meal Planning and Nutrition for Dummies and the founder of Diabetes EveryDay, of Hilton Head, South Carolina.
Inattention to what you decide to nourish yourself with can lead to serious consequences, like an increased risk of vision problems, nerve damage, amputations, and even death. “Managing blood glucose levels is key to preventing future complications,” Smithson says.
The reason why people with diabetes develop excess amounts of sugar in their blood is insulin resistance, the hallmark of the disease. Insulin resistance is the inability of the hormone insulin to effectively transport glucose, or blood sugar, to the bodys cells to be used for energy or stored as fuel for future use. When sugar cant reach the bodys cells it accumulates in the blood, potentially leading to the aforementioned complications.
To stay on track with your diabetes management, start with these 10 diabetes-friendly foods that fit this description and are known for their abilities to help keep blood sugar controlled.
Both Green And Yellow Bananas Are Nutritious
Green and yellow bananas are both good sources of many important nutrients.
Although the exact nutrient profile of green bananas is not available, they should contain the same micronutrients as when they are ripe.
A yellow medium-size banana contains the following vitamins and minerals, and an unripe banana will likely have more fiber because of its high resistant starch content (
- Potassium: 9% of the daily value
- Vitamin B6: 25% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 11% of the DV
- Magnesium: 7% of the DV
- Copper: 10% of the DV
- Manganese: 14% of the DV
In addition, it has 105 calories. Of those, more than 90% come from carbs. Additionally, bananas are very low in fat and protein.
For more about the nutrients in bananas, read this article.
Green and yellow bananas are high in many nutrients, including potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. They consist almost entirely of carbs but contain very little protein and fat.
Green bananas are very filling, largely because of their high fiber content.
Fiber-rich foods provide bulk and can promote satiety, or fullness .
Both resistant starch and pectin the types of fiber found in green bananas have been linked to an increased feeling of fullness after meals (
In addition, some evidence suggests that they help protect against colon cancer, but more human studies are needed .
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Snack On Almonds To Reduce Ldl Cholesterol
Almonds are high in vitamin E and biotin as well as magnesium. Theyre also a good source of riboflavin, fiber, iron, protein, and zinc and are low in carbohydrates that increase blood sugar levels, Smithson says.
And because diabetes makes you more likely to have high LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol, adding nuts to your diabetes diet is a smart move. Almonds are an excellent source of unsaturated fats, which can help lower your LDL cholesterol and raise your HDL, or “good,”cholesterol levels, Smithson notes.
Add almonds to salads or try a tablespoon of almond butter on apple slices as a snack, she suggests. Just watch your portions and steer clear of packaged nuts that may contain added sugar and salt.
Cook With Vinegar To Help Slow Sugar Absorption
The potential health benefits of vinegar are still under investigation, but a study published in 2004 in Diabetes Care found that vinegar helped improve insulin sensitivity to high-carb meals in people with diabetes or insulin resistance. The findings suggest that vinegar’s effects on the body are similar to the effects of the commonly used diabetes drug metformin .
And a July 2012 study published in the Journal of Community Hospital Internal Medicine found that vinegar helped slow the absorption of sugar. Two ounces of apple cider vinegar added to a high-carb meal improved fasting blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, researchers found.
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