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by Lera P.
17 Apr

Calories in a Banana and Their Effect on the Health and Body

Enriching your diet with supplements, superfoods, and all sorts of exotic fruits, don't forget about good old bananas. Banana calories boost energy and nourish the body with nutrients essential for the proper functioning. Seemingly simple and affordable fruit, a banana gives a lot of room to play within the kitchen.

Let's go through the nutrition density of bananas, all the health benefits you might not know, and how to incorporate it into your diet gradually. Even if you are familiar with all of those facts, from time to time, it's good to refresh the knowledge and strengthen the love for bananas. 

Calories in Various Sizes of Bananas

First things first, how many calories are in a raw ripe banana?

According to the US Department of Agriculture:

  • A small banana, that is around 101 grams, contains 90 calories;
  • A medium-sized banana (about 118 grams) contains 105 calories;
  • And a large (about 136 grams) contains 121 calories.

Calories alone don't say much about the quality of the food. So let's look at the banana nutrition facts, and where all of those calories are coming from.

Nutrition density of a banana

100 grams of banana comes with:

  • Calories: 89
  • Carbs: 22.84 grams
  • Fiber: 2.6 grams
  • Sugar: 12.23 grams
  • Protein: 1.09 grams
  • Fat: 0.33 grams

Carbs

Carbs are fuel for our body and brain, and they account for 90% of banana calories. Carbs are an umbrella term for the sugars, starches, and fibers, and the combination between these three predetermines the benefits they bring. The greener the banana, the more starch, and less sugar it contains. In a ripe banana, the starch turns into sugar. 12 grams of sugar per 100 grams of banana may scare you, considering that the recommended daily intake of sugar for a woman is 25 gm and 38 gm for men. But the quality of banana sugar differs from the added sugar in a frappuccino or a cake you eat with a cup of coffee. So, be aware, but don't be scared. 

Fiber

Fiber is a type of carbs our body can't digest, and it's good quality. It regulates the use of sugar, prevents sugar crash that leaves us with no energy after the meal, and plays its role in gut health. Just one average-size banana meets about 10 percent of the daily fiber needs. The fiber in bananas mitigates risk factors for many diseases. It helps lower cholesterol levels and slows down digestion, which makes you feel full for longer.

Glycemic Index of a Banana

Different types of carbs are coming in a banana all together, and the proportion of starches, sugars, and fiber is what is important to know. Bananas are pretty high in sugar, but the amount of fiber and starches makes a banana a low glycemic fruit. 

  • The score of green banana is around 30 on the glycemic index.
  • The GI of a ripe banana is around 51. 

This means, after eating a banana, your blood sugar rises gradually. Food with a low glycemic index is also associated with a reduction in cholesterol, regulation of blood sugar levels, and prevention of diseases related to these conditions. 

Protein

Bananas are low in protein; a medium-sized fruit provides just around 1,3 grams of protein. But the quality of protein in a banana is more important than quantity. Some studies suggest that lectin, a protein that occurs in bananas, suppresses cancer cell proliferation. 

Nevertheless, due to other characteristics, bananas remain one of the most popular fruits and snacks among people with an active lifestyle. 

It's also important to mention the level of:

  • Starch: 5.38 grams
  • Magnesium: 27 milligram
  • Potassium: 358 milligram
  • Vitamin C: 8.7 milligram

An average banana contains 12% of the recommended daily intake of potassium, and 17% of recommended daily vitamin C. If for now all of those numbers don't make any sense, just wait and we will cover how those micronutrients affect your day-to-day life.

Health Benefits of Bananas

Good for your heart

Potassium is an essential nutrient present all over the body and required for normal cell function and fluid balance. It's one of the reasons bananas are considered an excellent hangover remedy. Potassium-rich food replenishes the loss of electrolytes and helps cure dehydration. Fun facts aside, potassium is crucial for the proper function of the heart and kidneys. One medium banana equals 12% of the recommended daily value. Potassium carries a small electrical charge that causes nerve cells to send out signals for the heart to beat regularly and muscles to contract. Potassium makes the body get rid of extra sodium, and that regulates blood pressure.

Directly incorporating bananas into your diet, you raise your chances for a healthy heart. The effect of high potassium intake is well studied and suggests a 24% lower risk of stroke

Kidney stone prevention

Prevention is always better than treatment. And eating foods rich in potassium helps prevent kidney stones from forming. It decreases calcium excretion, what's directly linked to the kidney stones developing. And bananas are one of those foods. One medium banana contains 422 milligrams of potassium or 12% of the recommended daily dietary allowance. 

Perfect for an active lifestyle

Have you ever attended a marathon? If yes, then you saw a runner grabbing a banana from the stuff and eating it on the way. Bananas are full of natural sugars that our body easily digest, which makes it a perfect pre-workout snack. If you eat a banana during the run or other type of prolonged and intensive exercise, it refuels the body, giving it additional glycogen. Bananas are rich in potassium and magnesium, natural muscle relaxants. Thus it helps to recover after a workout, reduce exercise-related muscle cramps and soreness. All of those treats make a banana a staple in a diet of many athletes.

From physical to mental health

A simple fruit as a banana can contribute to your overall wellbeing and happiness. One large banana contains around 12 milligrams of tryptophan and tyrosine each. They help the body to produce serotonin, also known as a happy chemical. Boosting serotonin production in the body, bananas to some extent regulate the mood, help you stay calm and focused, reduce symptoms of anxiety and stress

Easy Ways to Incorporate Bananas to Your Diet

Banana, in itself is an easy go-to snack. One large fruit will provide you with 121 calories to last until the proper meal. Another easy option is dried bananas. But the banana chip calories are higher than anything else on the banana menu. One hundred grams of chips contain 519 calories. 

If you have more time and ingredients, here are a couple of recipes to put into use your cooking skills. But it's important to mention that some of the health benefits bananas bring can be minimized by the cooking techniques.

Banana Pancakes

Banana pancakes are a good start of the day and the easiest recipe anyone can master. There are multiple variations, including the one without sugar or flour. All you need is:

  • 3 medium bananas;
  • 3 egg whites;
  • 2 tablespoons of dark raisin;
  • 5 tablespoons of oats;
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil.

Mix everything in a food processor and cook pancakes on a pan. The number of calories in oatmeal banana pancakes is around 327 per serving. As a bonus, you get quite a high percentage of protein.

If you want to have more fun, try out Jamie Oliver's recipe of fluffy pancakes with caramelized bananas, honey, and nuts. 

Banana Pudding

Banana pudding is a way to satisfy a sweet craving while maintaining all the good in a banana as the recipe doesn't require the thermal processing of the fruit. Banana pudding calories may vary from 180 to 300+ depending on the recipe. Pay attention if it mentions condensed milk, a high number of cups of sugar, butter or high-fat heavy cream. Otherwise, all the benefits banana brings will be overplayed by high sugar and saturated fat.

 

Banana Bread

Banana bread is a perfect choice when you have a bunch of ripe bananas and no time to eat them till they go bad. Aiming for the healthiest version and a low number of banana bread calories, look at the skinny banana bread recipes. One slice of banana bread like this contains only 137 calories, which is just slightly over 1 large banana calories. The bread is low in sugar and fat but is rich in flavor.

Banana Tea

Banana tea is an unusual drink prepped both out of a peeled banana and banana with a peel. For that, you need to boil a banana, and the remaining liquid is what is called the banana tea. Boiled bananas may sound confusing, but it's discarded from the tea. The drink like this has almost zero calories but is serving as a good source of potassium, magnesium, and some other vitamins. Adding the peal to the tea may double some of the benefits.

The reason we know about banana tea is due to the effect it has on sleep quality. Components like magnesium, potassium, tryptophan, and serotonin help calm the mind and help with sleeping disorders.

What we've learned

Banana is a simple fruit we tend to underestimate. While the number of calories in a banana is low, it contains a wide array of nutrients. One medium banana contains 105 calories, 90% of which are carbs. But carbs in a banana bring no harm to the health or shape. Bananas are rich in fiber, magnesium, potassium, and several vitamins. This unique nutrient composition makes banana much more than just a sweet treat.

List of health benefits of bananas include:

  • promotion of heart health;
  • regulation of blood pressure;
  • prevention of kidney stones;
  • lowering of risks of stroke;
  • relief of muscle cramps and soreness;
  • alleviation of anxiety and stress symptoms;
  • improved quality of sleep;
  • treatment of sleep disorders.

Quick Answers to the Frequently Asked Questions

How many calories are a small banana?

On average, a small banana contains 90 calories. It's a low number taking into account all the health benefits it brings. Try to add a banana to your morning oats for additional sweetness. With time you can cut the amount of honey, syrup, or other toppings you add. Small banana calories are much lower than in honey or jam. 

How many calories are in a medium banana?

A banana of around 118 grams contains 105 calories. Considering between snacking on a banana and one granola bar, keep in mind that even though the two have almost the same number of calories, banana is a better choice. A banana comes with way less sugar and fat. So burning those medium banana calories will be a simple thing.

How many calories are a small banana?

One large banana contains 121 calories. It can be a perfect pre-workout meal if you have less than an hour before the class. Carbs in a banana and a high intake of potassium will keep you going and help to recover later on. 

How much potassium is in a banana?

Banana is a potassium-rich fruit. One banana contains 358 milligrams of potassium per 100 grams and provides you with 12% of the recommended daily intake.

How many carbs are in a banana?

Carbs account for 90% of calories in a banana. 22.84 grams out of 100 are carbohydrates. But the proportion of carbs (starches, sugars, and fiber) in a banana makes it a low glycemic fruit. You'll stay full for longer and avoid sugar spikes.

 

 

Photo Credit: DepositPhotos

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