Written by Desireeh Chevere | Reviewed by Alyssa Tucci MS, RDN, CDN, CLT
True or False: Bananas have too much sugar- False!
An average medium sized banana contains about 14 grams of sugar, which is about 53% of its total 105 calories. When you see that a banana is half sugar, it’s easy to understand why some might think they need to steer clear of them.
However, the sugars (fructose, glucose, sucrose, and maltose) in the banana are all naturally occurring. The sugars you hear certain health professionals mentioning to cut back on are the added sugars. These types of sugars are sugars that are unnatural and highly refined. They are added to foods and beverages when they are prepared and processed. For instance, high-fructose corn syrup in bread or sodas, cane sugar in yogurt, and white granulated sugar are a few examples of these added sugars. These types of foods tend to have a lower nutritional value compared to whole, unprocessed foods. The American Heart Association has recommendations for the amount of added sugar one should have daily, which is less than 100 calories (6 teaspoons) for women and 150 calories (9 teaspoons) for men. These recommendations are important to pay attention to because added sugars may lead to certain health complications, such as weight gain, nutritional deficiencies, high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides and inflammation.
Not only do bananas have naturally occurring sugars, they also contain several vitamins and minerals, such as, fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. The fiber found in bananas helps with proper digestion and can help lower cholesterol. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is critical in tissue repair and immunity. Bananas are also very high in potassium, with 1 medium banana filling about 10% of our daily potassium needs. Potassium helps maintain the balance of minerals and the fluids in your body while also promoting a regular heartbeat and maintaining muscle function. There are a few other vitamins and minerals that bananas contain, which are all needed for basic biological functions, such as magnesium, manganese, Vitamin B-6, and iron.
Take home message: feel free to snack on this delicious, portable fruit!