6 benefits of red bananas! Find out if they’re better than yellow bananas

A woman with good digestion

The other day I went bananas quite literally when my father brought home a bunch of red bananas! Red bananas (Musa acuminate ‘Red dacca’) come with reddish-purple skin, and are native to Southeast Asia though they are available in various parts of the world, including the U.S. They are a part of over 1,000 different varieties of bananas found across the globe. And here, I thought bananas were only either yellow or green! Red bananas have sucrose and fructose. So, when they are ripe, they taste sweet like commonly found yellow bananas. But also have an extra touch of raspberry sweetness. The major antioxidants present in red bananas are beta carotene and vitamin C, which are beneficial for us. Read on to know the health benefits of red bananas.

Benefits of red bananas

Here are some of the health benefits of red bananas:

1. Rich in fiber and aids digestion

The fiber content in ripe red bananas is 2 grams per 100 grams, according to the Indian Food Composition tables (IFCT 2017). The presence of insoluble fiber in red bananas aids in digestion and helps in reducing the incidence of constipation, says dietician Ramya B. Also, red bananas are a prebiotic that contain fructo-oligosaccharide. This helps in improving the gut health.

Red bananas can help with digestion. Image Courtesy: Freepik.

2. Boosts heart health

Red banana is a good source of potassium, which helps in heart function. There are many electrolytes that aid in heart health, and among them potassium plays an important role. Low levels of potassium (hypokalemia) can cause hypertension, and cardiac muscle weakness. The inclusion of red bananas provides 15 percent of the daily requirement of potassium on an average, says the expert.

3. May help manage blood sugar levels

The carbohydrate content of red banana is 25 grams per 100 grams. Though it is not directly related to managing blood glucose, it is safe to consume if one has diabetes because it has low glycemic index and dietary fiber. The glycemic index or GI, a scale from 0 to 100, is used to measure how quickly foods increase a person’s blood sugar levels. Red bananas score around 45 on the scale, which is relatively low.

4. Supports eye health

Beta-carotene is a precursor of vitamin A that helps in the functioning in biological processes, including vision, as per a 2020 research published in the Antioxidants journal. Red bananas are a good source of beta-carotene and lutein, so they support vision. They especially help in preventing age-related macular degeneration, an eye disease that causes vision loss.

5. Potential source of antioxidants

Red bananas have carotenoids, vitamin C, and anthocyanins, as per a 2018 research published in the Food Chemistry journal. These are all antioxidants, which are compounds that help in preventing cellular damage caused by free radicals. Too much of these molecules in the body may lead to oxidative stress. It is linked to conditions like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

6. May help in maintaining healthy blood pressure

Red bananas have 313 mg of potassium per 100 grams. Potassium and magnesium have vasodilation property, which helps in relaxing the blood vessels. This in turn aids in maintaining a healthy blood pressure, as per Ramya. That means the systolic pressure is less than 120 and the diastolic pressure of under 80.

Risks of eating red bananas

There are risks of eating red bananas even though they have benefits.

1. Anaphylactic reaction

In some cases, red bananas can cause allergic reactions to the body. The protein present in these bananas can alternate immune responses and cause an anaphylactic reaction.

2. Bloating

If you eat too many red bananas, they can cause bloating, vomiting, and nausea, says the expert. Don’t eat more than one or two red bananas in a day.

3. Weight gain

Red bananas can help in weight loss, as one piece contains 90 calories. It also has high fiber content, so it can make you feel full for a long time. But if excess intake can lead to weight gain.

Precautions while eating red bananas

Before eating red bananas, take precautions, especially if:

  • Pre-disposition of allergy is there.
  • You are taking medications for cardiac or kidney disease, as red bananas have high potassium.

Red banana vs. yellow banana

One wonders if red bananas are more nutritional than regular bananas. So, let us check the nutritional value of red and yellow bananas per 100 grams!

banana for digestion
Know if yellow banana is healthier than red banana. Image courtesy: Adobe stock

Red bananas

  • Energy (kcal) – 90
  • Carbohydrate (g) – 25.2
  • Protein (g) – 1.29
  • Fat (g) – 0.29
  • Fiber (g) – 1.98
  • Vitamin C (mg)- 6.74
  • Carotenoids (µg) – 261
  • Lutein (µg) – 47

Yellow banana

    • Energy (kcal) – 105.1
    • Carbohydrate (g) – 23.63
    • Protein (g) – 1.23
    • Fat (g) – 0.33
    • Fiber (g) – 1.94
    • Vitamin C (mg)- 4.76
    • Carotenoids (µg) – 314
    • Lutein (µg) – 26.9

The major antioxidants present in red bananas are beta carotene and vitamin C which are more than the ones found in yellow bananas, says the expert.

Can eating bananas reduce the effect of smoking?

Bananas have vitamins B6, B12, potassium, and magnesium, and they may improve the effects of nicotine withdrawal. While bananas offer essential vitamins and minerals, they don’t directly negate the harmful effects of smoking. But you should quit smoking for strong lungs and your overall health.

How to enjoy red bananas?

There are many ways to enjoy overripe bananas. You can also incorporate red bananas into your diet in the following ways:

  • Eat them as a mid-morning snack or evening snack.
  • Use them in smoothies and yogurt bowls.
  • Include them in baked goods like muffins and breads, and 4 ingredient banana oatmeal cookies, which are made of banana, oats, almond butter, and chocolate chips.
  • Red banana can be included in pancake, milkshake, and pudding too.

FAQs

1. Do red bananas taste like regular bananas?

Red bananas are much sweeter in taste and creamier in texture compared to yellow bananas.

2. Can people with diabetes eat red bananas?

Yes, it can be consumed by diabetics, as the glycemic index is relatively low. It can be consumed by diabetic patients, but in moderation.

3. Can people eat red bananas at night?

There is no scientific evidence indicating the harmfulness in consumption of eating red bananas at night. But it might be heavy and difficult to digest at night.

4. Is red banana good for the skin?

Red banana has vitamin C, which might support skin health if included in your diet.

5. Is red banana good for hair?

Red banana has natural oils which might help in conditioning hair. If a red banana is used as a mask can help moisturise the scalp.

6. Is red banana healthier than yellow banana?

Compared to yellow bananas, red banana has more carotenoids and lutein. Compared to yellow bananas, red banana has more Vitamin C content. The red banana has more antioxidants and immune-boosting components.

7. What is the best time to eat a red banana?

Red bananas have calories and can be a great source of energy if taken in breakfast or as a mid-morning snack.

Red banana is a healthy fruit that provides adequate calories. The energy-dense fruit has loads of antioxidants that are needed by our body.

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