Bananas are one of the world’s most popular fruits. Runners love them for their potassium and mother’s love them for their tendency to plug up a child stricken with diarrhea. So do they keep you on the go, or keep you from going?
It depends on what stage of ripening you eat the banana in which determines how the banana will behave in your body.
When a banana is picked for the grocery store, it is picked and shipped green (unripe). In this stage the banana is comprised of a type of resistant starch for which the human body lacks the enzyme to break down. This banana (#1-5) will plug you up. Plus it has that awful “dry” texture that makes you (or is it just me?) want to spit it out.
Isn’t it interesting to know that the word “starch” is derived from Middle English sterchen, meaning to stiffen. Um, hello. Stiff bowels are NOT good.
Most whole starches like potatoes, grains, squashes, and legumes require cooking for palatability and digestabilibty. Can you imagine eating a raw, uncooked potato? Eating an unripe banana may taste better, but it’s very similar in starch content. If you like your bananas green or yellow, it might be wise to cook them first.
After a banana ripens it turns yellow and starts to show brown spots: speckles, freckles, & smudges (#7). The resistant starch has turned to sugar which is now fuel that is ready & waiting to be used your body. Banana #6 is ok (no green) but #7 is better.
By the way, corn does the same thing. Unripe corn will bind you up, ripe corn will provide immediate fuel. Unfortunately it’s not as obvious when corn is ripe as when bananas are ripe. A bit of quick research about corn tells that waiting until the corn tassels are brown & dry and if the kernel, when pricked, exudes a bit of “milk” then the corn is ripe.
Bananas are awesome! They are available year around. One medium size ripe banana has 89 calories and is comprised of 93% carbohydrate, 4% protein and 3% fat.
Make sure all your future bananas feature some brown spots. But don’t wait until they are mushy. Now you know why I eat upwards of 6 bananas a day: once they are the perfect ripeness, they need to be consumed ASAP before spoiling. Or peel them and freeze them for banana nice cream!
Organic bananas are about 10-20 cents more per pound than conventional. Bananas are not on the EWG Dirty Dozen list because you don’t eat the peel. I buy organic when they are available, but I don’t hesitate to buy conventional when organic is sold out. Often when I buy a case of bananas at a time, only conventional are available in this quantity. Be sure to check your “over-ripe fruit” quick sale shelf for perfectly ripe and ready to eat bananas!
PS – If you want to speed up or slow down the bananas ripening process, there are some good tips here.
• Thriving with Superfoods – yes, a banana is a superfood!Carla Golden is a vegan nutritionist and a massage therapist in private practice specializing in therapeutic essential oils. With a Bachelor of Science degree in Holistic Health & Healing, she enjoys helping others discover the benefits and liberation inherent in a whole food, plant-based vegan diet. The Vegan Key™ is her newest online nutrition program based on tried and true methods which foster performance, vitality, and purpose. Join Carla in person at a Palmetto Plant Eaters Club meeting!