Do Bananas Have Too Much Sugar?

Woman Holding a Bunch of Bananas

(HealthCastle.com) Are you or your loved ones banana fans? It's easy to love bananas: They are self-enclosed, completely biodegradable travel snacks and tasty to boot! What is there not to like?

Do Bananas Have Too Much Sugar?

Bananas' sweetness and appealing "banana-y" flavor may lead some to believe they are very high in sugar. This isn't true: They are very comparable in carbohydrates to other fruits. Here are some numbers for comparison:

  Banana Apple Grapes
Serving Size 1 large 1 large 1 cup
Calories 121 kcal 116 kcal 104 kcal
Total Sugar 16.6 g 23.2 g 23.4 g
Total Carbohydrates 31 g 30.8 g 27 g
Fiber 3.5 g 5.4 g 1 g

Glycemic Index

Low: less than 55

Unripe: 31

Ripe: 51

28 to 44 depending on type and ripeness 43 to 53

Bananas and Blood Sugar

People with diabetes or prediabetes may have received the suggestion to only eat half a banana in one sitting. This is because bananas vary widely in size and can therefore have a different impact on blood sugar depending on the portion size. An extra-small banana (6 inches long or less) has 18.5 g carbohydrates, whereas a large banana (8 to 8 7/8 inches long) has 31 g carbohydrates. So bananas can fit into a diabetes meal plan as long as you plan accordingly.

Other Nutrients in Bananas

Bananas are also high in potassium and Vitamin B6, and are a good source of fiber. Potassium is an important nutrient that counteracts the blood-pressure-raising effect of sodium, while Vitamin B6 is involved in many metabolic processes in the body, such as protein metabolism, production of neurotransmitters, glucose and glycogen metabolism, immune function, and hemoglobin formation. Another plus: A 2008 study from Uppsala University in Sweden suggests that a phytonutrient called 2-pentanone, commonly found in bananas, may help prevent the development of colon cancer.

The Bottom Line

Relax: Just like many other fruits and vegetables, bananas contain beneficial nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. This isn't a reason to consume solely bananas, of course. Instead, aim to get a wide variety of fresh produce with different colors to get the maximum benefit.

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