Most people avoid eating bananas when they are slightly green or once they begin to get brown spots. Despite what you’ve been told, bananas actually have different unique health benefits at each stages of ripening.
Here’s why you should eat more ripe and unripe bananas!
Benefits Of Unripe Bananas
This starch is proven to kill precancerous polyps in the colon, reduce inflammation, prevent or treat inflammatory bowel disease and promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut (2).
Resistant starch “is the most important form of soluble dietary fibre [which] is absorbed more slowly further down in the body” explains Bilton.
This means that natural sugars are slowly released into the body, which helps regulate blood sugar, supply long-lasting energy and improve insulin sensitivity. The fiber helps you feel more full and also signals the release of glucagon, a hormone which helps burn fat.
As it moves into the large intestine, resistant starch is processed into beneficial fatty acids, including butyrate, which blocks the body’s ability to burn carbohydrates.
“This can prevent the liver from using carbs as fuel and, instead, stored body fat and recently consumed fat are burned,” explains Janine Higgins, PhD, nutrition research director for the University of Colorado’s Adult and Pediatric General Clinical Research Center.
As the banana ripens starch and resistant starch turn into glucose, fructose and sucrose, making the fruit sweeter (3).
Finally, banana naturally contain lectins, a unique group of proteins and glycoproteins, some which bind to gastrointestinal cells and other which enter the blood stream. Lectins boost the immune system and induce death and cycle arrest of cancer cells (4). As the fruit over-ripens, lectins levels being to quickly decline (5).
Benefits Of Ripe Bananas
Professor Bernhard Kräutler from the University of Innsbruck explains that as fruits ripen, their levels of highly active antioxidants begin to increase. This means that ripe bananas have higher levels of antioxidants than green bananas (6).
These antioxidants protect the body from free radical damage, which promotes cellular aging, induces DNA damage and is linked to heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
According to a Japanese scientific study, dark patches on a banana’s skin indicates the presence of TNF (Tumor Necrosis Factor). The more spots a banana has, the higher levels of TNF the fruit contains. In fact, ripe bananas contain 8x more TNF than green ones (7).
This compound is a cytokine, a substance used by the immune system which enables communication between cells. Cytokines influence cell survival and apoptosis to kill off damaged or cancerous cells.
Ripe bananas also promote the production of white blood cells. In fact, the study compares the fruit to Lentinan, a drug that stimulates the immune system that’s commonly used in cancer treatment.
These bananas are also easier to digest and do not induce bloating like unripe does.
The bottom line
Whether they’re green, yellow and spotted brown, bananas are full of dietary fiber, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6 and manganese (8).
Regardless of how you enjoy them, just make sure to add more bananas, and other fruits for that matter, in your daily diet!