Bananas are incredibly tasty and easy to eat. What’s more, they’re rich in many essential vitamins and minerals.
Most people eat bananas when the fruit is yellow and ripe, but green unripe bananas are also safe to eat. However, some people dislike their taste and texture.
- Green vs. yellow
- Effects of ripening
- Effects on fullness and appetite
- Benefits for digestive health
- Benefits for blood sugar
- How to choose one
Green vs. yellow bananas — what’s the difference?
Bananas are typically harvested while they’re still green. This helps ensure they don’t get too ripe before you buy them.
That’s why you might see them in this color in the supermarket.
Besides being different in color, green and yellow bananas differ in several ways:
- Taste. Green bananas are less sweet. They can be a little bitter in taste.
- Texture. Green bananas are firmer than yellow bananas. Their texture has sometimes been described as waxy.
- Composition. Green bananas are higher in starches. As bananas ripen and turn yellow, the starches transform into sugars.
Additionally, green bananas are harder to peel, while ripe bananas are easier to peel.
Summary: Green and yellow bananas differ in taste and texture. Green bananas are also higher in starches.
As a banana ripens, its carb composition changes
Unripe bananas contain mostly starch, which makes up 70–80% of their dry weight.
Much of that starch is resistant starch, which is not digested in the small intestine. For that reason, it’s often classified as dietary fiber.
However, bananas lose their starch as they ripen.
During ripening, the starch is converted into simple sugars (sucrose, glucose, and fructose). Interestingly, ripe bananas contain only 1% starch.
Green bananas are also a good source of pectin. This type of dietary fiber is found in fruits and helps them keep their structural form.
Pectin breaks down when a banana becomes overripe, which causes the fruit to become soft and mushy.
The resistant starch and pectin in green bananas can provide several health benefits, including improved blood sugar control and better digestive health.
Summary: Green bananas contain a high amount of resistant starch and pectin, which have been linked to several health benefits. As bananas ripen, most of the starches are turned into sugar.
Both green and yellow bananas are nutritious
Green and yellow bananas are both good sources of many important nutrients.
Although the exact nutrient profile of green bananas is not available, they should contain the same micronutrients as when they are ripe.
A yellow medium-size banana (118 grams) contains the following vitamins and minerals, and an unripe banana will likely have more fiber because of its high resistant starch content:
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Potassium: 9% of the daily value
- Vitamin B6: 25% of the daily value
- Vitamin C: 11% of the daily value
- Magnesium: 7% of the daily value
- Copper: 10% of the daily value
- Manganese: 14% of the daily value
In addition, it has 105 calories. Of those, more than 90% come from carbs. Additionally, bananas are very low in fat and protein.
For more about the nutrients in bananas, read this article:
Summary: Green and yellow bananas are high in many nutrients, including potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. They consist almost entirely of carbs but contain very little protein and fat.
Green bananas help you feel full and may reduce appetite
Green bananas are very filling, largely because of their high fiber content.
Fiber-rich foods provide bulk and can promote satiety, or fullness.
Both resistant starch and pectin — the types of fiber found in green bananas — have been linked to an increased feeling of fullness after meals.
These types of fiber may also slow down the emptying of your stomach and lead you to eat less food.
In turn, this may cause you to eat fewer calories. This could help with weight loss if that’s your goal.
Summary: Green bananas may have an appetite-reducing effect due to their high content of fiber and resistant starch.
Green bananas can improve digestive health
The nutrients in green bananas may also have a prebiotic effect.
Instead of being broken down in your intestine, resistant starch and pectin feed the friendly bacteria that reside in your gut.
The bacteria ferment these two types of fiber, producing butyrate and other beneficial short-chain fatty acids.
Short-chain fatty acids may help with various digestive complications.
In addition, some evidence suggests that they help protect against colon cancer, but more human studies are needed.
Summary: Consuming green bananas can help keep your gut bacteria healthy. It can also increase the production of short-chain fatty acids, which are important for digestive health.
Green bananas have benefits for your blood sugar
Having high blood sugar levels is a major health concern.
If left untreated over time, it may lead to type 2 diabetes and raise the risk of other serious health problems.
Both the pectin and resistant starch in green bananas may help control blood sugar after meals.
Unripe green bananas also rank low on the glycemic index, with a value of 30. Well-ripened bananas have a score of around 60.
The glycemic index measures how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels after eating.
The scale runs from 0 to 100, and lower values are good for blood sugar control.
Summary: The pectin and resistant starch in green bananas can help control your blood sugar levels, especially after meals.
Are green bananas unhealthy in any way?
Green bananas are generally considered to be healthy. However, there have been some online reports of people experiencing discomfort after eating them.
This includes digestive symptoms like:
Additionally, you may want to be careful with green bananas if you’re allergic to latex.
They contain proteins that are similar to the allergy-causing proteins in latex, which may cause reactions for people with a latex allergy. This condition is known as the latex-fruit syndrome.
Summary: Green bananas are considered healthy, although they may cause digestive problems in some people. People with a latex allergy may also experience complications when eating them.
How green does the banana have to be?
Green bananas may provide some additional nutrients and benefits that yellow bananas do not.
They’re rich in resistant starch and pectin, which are filling, improve digestive health, and help lower blood sugar levels.
However, they are not as sweet as a ripe banana and the texture may not be as enjoyable if you like your bananas on the softer side.
Interestingly, the resistant starch and pectin gradually decrease as the banana ripens, so bananas that are yellow with a hint of green should still contain small amounts.
For this reason, the banana doesn’t have to be completely green for you to get at least some of these benefits.