What You Need to Know About Bananas and Diabetes

Although the American Diabetes Association says that people with diabetes can eat just about any kind of fruit, including bananas, you might still have some worries about its effect on your diet.

Carbohydrate Content

When you struggle with diabetes, you have to pay close attention to the amount and type of carbohydrates in your diet because diabetics have trouble with insulin and can have unusually high levels of glucose circulating throughout the body.

Nearly all fruits contain high amounts of carbohydrates. Therefore, eating too many fruits can dump more glucose than your diabetic body can handle. However, carbohydrates are an essential part of your diet that you cannot live without. The key to being able to enjoy fruit, and specifically bananas, is to find a balance.

Having a diet plan that keeps track of how much fruit and how many carbs you are allowed to have in one day will help to keep your blood sugar levels on track.

Nutritional Value and Benefits of Bananas

Bananas have a wide range of benefits and are a good source of fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium and manganese. A medium-size banana contains about 110 calories, four grams of fiber and 400 mg of potassium.

Because of their high potassium content, bananas are beneficial for helping regulate blood pressure and can reduce your risk of stroke as well. Bananas are also considered a "good mood" food because the vitamin B6 that bananas contain is thought to regulate mood.

Bananas also contain tryptophan, an amino acid which converts to the brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine. These chemicals are thought to affect happiness and stress, respectively.

Furthermore, bananas can help with both diarrhea and constipation. On the one hand, bananas can help to replenish some of the electrolytes that are lost with diarrhea. On the other hand, because bananas have a high soluble fiber content, they are great for help with constipation.

Lastly, bananas help promote probiotic bacteria in the intestines. Probiotic bacteria are important for keeping the population of harmful bacteria in check and also helping the intestines to absorb important nutrients.

Bananas in Diabetic Diets

Bananas are a safe snack for diabetics, but there are some important things to keep in mind, such as the ripeness of a banana. In an issue of Diabetic Medicine, researchers reported that they had found that participants in a study who ate overripe bananas had a fairly high glycemic response, meaning that blood sugar levels rose in patients.

What this meant was that patients needed to use more insulin when eating overripe bananas. Participants who ate bananas that had not fully ripened had a lower glycemic response.

The researchers claimed that up to 90 percent of the carbohydrates in an unripe banana come from starch, but when it ripens, the carbohydrates are mostly free sugars.

The researchers of this study stated that bananas, especially unripened ones, are "an acceptable alternative as between-meal snacks for Type 2 diabetes subjects."

Caution and Tips

Try to avoid eating bananas that are part of desserts, like sundaes, chocolate-covered bananas, or bananas that have been prepared with other sugary syrups. Desserts like these will add access carbohydrates, calories, and fat to your diet.

You can enjoy bananas in a variety of ways, such as fresh, frozen, canned or dried, which allows you to feel less restricted in your diet.

Source: Livestrong, Fitday
Photo: Pexels

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