Green bananas are bananas that are underripe and not yet yellow or sweet. While most people prefer the ripe, yellow fruit, green bananas are highly nutritious and offer powerful health benefits.
Packed with nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, and magnesium, green bananas aid digestion, boost immunity, build strong bones, and regulate heart health. They also help control blood sugar levels and provide antioxidants.
In this comprehensive article, we will examine the excellent nutritional profile of green bananas versus yellow bananas. We’ll also explore all the evidence-based ways green bananas can benefit your health. Additionally, we’ll discuss the different ways you can add green bananas to your diet. Read on to learn more about maximizing the nutrition from this amazing superfood.
Health Benefits of Green Bananas (1000 words)
1. Excellent Source of Resistant Starch – Unripe green bananas are very high in resistant starch, a fiber-like carbohydrate that enhances digestive health. Resistant starch functions as a prebiotic that feeds beneficial gut bacteria.
2. High in Antioxidants – Green bananas contain more antioxidant compounds like polyphenols and flavonoids compared to yellow bananas. These antioxidants fight inflammation and oxidative stress.
3. Aid in Controlling Blood Sugar – The resistant starch and fiber in green bananas help control blood sugar spikes after meals by slowing digestion and regulating insulin levels.
4. Support Heart Health – Green bananas are high in potassium which regulates heartbeat, lowers blood pressure, and reduces stroke risk. Their antioxidants also improve cardiovascular health.
5. Boost Immunity – The vitamin C, vitamin B6 and manganese in green bananas strengthen the immune system and help your body fight infections and illnesses.
6. Promote Regularity – The high fiber content in green bananas adds bulk to stool and may help relieve constipation. Fiber also supports overall digestive health.
7. Improve Insulin Sensitivity – Studies indicate green banana flour can lower insulin resistance in those with diabetes. This improves the body’s ability to use insulin effectively.
8. Beneficial for Gut Bacteria – The resistant starch and pectin in green bananas act as prebiotics to feed healthy probiotic bacteria in the gut microbiome.
9. Support Kidney Health – The high potassium in green bananas counterbalances sodium to reduce pressure on the kidneys. Potassium lowers calcium kidney stone risk as well.
10. Aid in Managing Weight – Green bananas are more filling and have fewer sugars than ripe bananas, making them beneficial for satiety and weight control.
11. Help Build Strong Bones – The magnesium, folate and vitamin B6 in green bananas all support bone density and strength. Magnesium is especially key for preventing osteoporosis.
12. May Lower Cholesterol – Some research indicates underripe green bananas may help lower LDL “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides, reducing heart disease risk.
Green Banana Nutrition Facts
Green bananas offer an impressive nutritional profile. Here is how 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of raw green banana measures up nutritionally (1):
- Calories: 89
- Fat: 0.3 g
- Sodium: 1 mg
- Potassium: 499 mg
- Carbs: 22.8 g
- Fiber: 2.6 g
- Sugar: 12.2 g
- Protein: 1.1 g
- Vitamin A: 18% DV
- Vitamin C: 17% DV
- Vitamin B6: 31% DV
- Magnesium: 8% DV
- Manganese: 15% DV
- Copper: 9% DV
The Calories and macronutrients in green bananas are similar to ripe bananas. However, green bananas really stand out in their vitamin, mineral and antioxidant content:
- Vitamin C – Green bananas contain 17% the RDI of vitamin C per serving compared to 8.7% in yellow bananas. Vitamin C boosts immunity and iron absorption.
- Vitamin B6 – Green bananas provide over 30% the RDI of vitamin B6 which supports nerve signaling, mood and red blood cell production.
- Potassium – With 499mg potassium or 12% the RDI, green bananas help control blood pressure and heart function.
- Magnesium – Green bananas supply 8% the RDI for magnesium which promotes bone strength, muscle function and nerve transmission.
- Manganese – This essential mineral supports metabolism, bone health and wound healing. Green bananas deliver 15% the RDI.
- Antioxidants – Underripe green bananas offer a higher ORAC antioxidant score than ripe yellow bananas.
Overall, green bananas provide more vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants compared to the ripe fruit. The resistant starch content is also markedly higher.
How to Eat Green Bananas
It’s easy to add green bananas to your diet:
- Smoothies – Blend sliced green bananas into smoothies. They add fiber, nutrients, and creaminess without too much sweetness.
- Baked goods – Substitute mashed green banana for oil or butter in baking recipes for muffins, brownies, breads and pancakes.
- Fried chips – Slice raw green bananas thinly and fry them into crunchy banana chips without the guilt. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
- Soups and stews – Green banana chunks add fiber, texture and nutrients to soups like chicken noodle, vegetable, minestrone or lentil stew.
- Sauteed side – Slice green bananas and saute lightly in coconut oil with a pinch of sea salt for a low-carb side dish.
- Boiled or roasted – Boil green banana chunks in water for 7-10 minutes until tender. Or roast slices at 400F for 20 minutes. Season as desired.
- Breakfast bowls – Sauteed green bananas pair well with scrambled eggs and avocado in a breakfast bowl. Sprinkle on nuts and cinnamon.
- Dessert wraps – Spread almond or peanut butter inside a whole wheat tortilla. Slice a green banana thinly and place inside. Roll up and enjoy.
- Curries – Green banana chunks work well in vegetarian chickpea or lentil curries. They hold their shape and add fiber.
- Casseroles – Mix diced green bananas into egg bake casseroles or pizza casseroles for extra nutrition without changing the taste.
Green bananas can be used similarly to plantains. Their mild flavor complements both savory and sweet dishes. Always peel and cook green bananas before eating.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are green bananas healthier than yellow bananas?
Yes, green underripe bananas are healthier than fully ripe yellow bananas in several ways:
- More fiber – Green bananas have nearly double the fiber of yellow bananas – 2.6g vs 1.3g per 3.5 oz serving.
- More antioxidants – Green bananas are higher in antioxidant compounds like gallocatechin and dopamine.
- More vitamins/minerals – Green bananas offer higher amounts of vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese and potassium compared to fully ripe bananas.
- More resistant starch – Unripe green bananas have a high resistant starch content which provides prebiotic benefits. Ripe bananas have nearly no resistant starch.
- Lower glycemic index – Green bananas are slowly digested and absorbed which minimizes blood sugar spikes. Ripe bananas cause quicker energy crashes.
So the underripe fruit has modest calorie and carb content but more fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and resistant starch.
2. Are green bananas safe to eat raw?
No, it is not recommended to eat a green banana completely raw. Unripe bananas contain difficult to digest starch molecules like resistant starch and pectin. Cooking the banana breaks these compounds down into easier to absorb sugars. Always cook green bananas before eating by boiling, steaming, sautéing or baking.
3. Do green bananas help you lose weight?
Green bananas may promote weight loss in a few ways:
- Lower calorie density – They have a lower energy density than ripe bananas so you get fuller on fewer calories.
- Higher satiety – The resistant starch and fiber keep you feeling satisfied for longer after eating.
- Blood sugar regulation – They help moderate blood sugar spikes and crashes which reduces food cravings.
- Prebiotic benefits – Feeding good gut bacteria via resistant starch optimizes metabolism.
- Nutrient support – Their vitamins, minerals and antioxidants aid weight management.
By eating green bananas in place of more processed carbs, they can aid sustainable, healthy weight loss.
4. How can you tell when a green banana is ready to eat?
There are a few ways to judge ripeness for green bananas:
- Color – Greenish-yellow bananas with brown speckles are a sign of progressing ripeness. Still solid green bananas are the most underripe.
- Texture – When pressed gently, riper green bananas will give slightly while still firm. Fully green bananas will be hard and not give at all.
- Days ripening – Green bananas left out at room temp will be ready to cook in 3-7 days depending on ripeness level.
Use your best judgment based on feel, appearance and days passed. Underripe green bananas require longer cooking.
5. Can you eat green banana peels?
No, you should avoid eating the peel of green bananas. The peels are very difficult to digest and contain tannins and fiber that may cause digestive upset. Peels also have a bitter, unpleasant taste. The nutritious flesh inside provides all the benefits without the peel.
Unlike their sweeter, ripe counterparts, green bananas offer an abundance of resistant starch, fiber, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins that deliver considerable health benefits. From supporting heart health and immunity to optimizing digestion and blood sugar levels, green bananas are worth including in your diet.
With a mild taste that pairs well with both sweet and savory dishes, green bananas make a nutritious ingredient when boiled, baked or sauteed. By understanding how to pick green bananas and prepare them, you can easily gain all the perks of this superfood. While both green and yellow bananas supply key nutrients, the green unripe fruit is the ultimate winner for nutritional enhancements and true superfood status.