Do Bananas Have Too Much Sugar?

Written By: Sofia Layarda, MPH

Title: Master of Public Health

Alumni: University of California, Berkeley

Last Updated on:

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! In addition, it’s sweet and soft, perfect for toddlers and people with difficulty in chewing.

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; their carbohydrate content (and net carb) is quite similar to other fruits. Here is quick comparison on their nutrition values:

Serving Size1 large1 large1 cup
Calories:121 kcal116 kcal104 kcal
Total Carbohydrate:31 g30.8 g27 g
Fiber:3.5 g5.4 g1 g
Net Carb:27.5 g25.4 g26 g
Glycemic Index:31 (Unripe)
51 (Ripe)
28 to 44 43 to 53
Table 1. Nutritional Fats Comparison of Banana, Apple, and Grapes.

Can People with Diabetes Eat Banana?

As you can see from the table above, the net carb of a whole banana is 27.5 grams (approximately 2 carb choice if you are carb counting), whereas the other two fruits are at similar levels. People with diabetes or pre-diabetes may have received the suggestion to only eat half a banana in one sitting, keep the carb count to 1 serving. 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. In addition, people with diabetes may wish to choose less ripe bananas; green bananas contain higher amount of resistant starch, resulting in a lower glycemic index value. So bananas can fit into a diabetes meal plan, as long as you keep the portion in check.

Bananas Are Rich In Other Nutrients

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.

Groceries, Nutrition 101

bananas, glycemic index, sugar


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