The Benefits Of Ripe & Unripe Bananas Are Actually Different, So Here's What You Need To Know
Do you eat bananas when they're still a little green, or do you wait until they're so spotted that you just know they're gooey inside? Regardless of what ripeness you find apeeling, bananas are full of nutrients, so you really can't go wrong. The benefits of ripe and unripe bananas are a little different from one another, but rest assured, knowing which type is best for your digestive system or recipe is a piece of cake. Whether you're someone who only eats bananas because they're an easy fruit to take on-the-go or pack in a lunchbox, or you love bananas so much that you’d happily eat a whole bunch every single day, the good news is that whatever the ripeness level of your fruit, you can still enjoy them with a little bit of extra thought.
Luckily for banana-eaters everywhere, according to Grace Derocha, a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, and certified health coach at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, both green and yellow bananas should have the same number of key micronutrients (which, BTW, there are a lot of). That being said, the tropical fruits have very different tastes and textures at different stages of ripeness, as well as differing levels of starch and fiber, Derocha tells Elite Daily.
If you're watching your sugar intake, then green bananas may be the way to go for you.
Whether you're doing so to manage a health condition like diabetes, or simply because you don’t have a particularly sweet tooth, green bananas are lower in natural sugars than their riper counterparts, according to LIVESTRONG. What's more, Derocha adds, green bananas have a lower glycemic index, as well as more resistant starch and fiber, making them great for both your digestive health and your blood sugar.
Team green also gets a point for the good gut bacteria benefits of a slightly higher amount of resistant starch: “It’s the kind of starchy material that bacteria look to feed on,” Nicholas Gillitt, vice president of nutrition research and director of the Dole Nutrition Institute, told The Verge. In other words, your tummy tends to respond better to unripe bananas than the mushier, more sugary kind.
Despite all of these benefits, Derocha says there are a couple of drawbacks to unripe bananas that are worth keeping in mind. For one thing, she tells Elite Daily, the starch in underripe bananas can sometimes lead to gas or bloating because it's a bit more complicated for the body to digest. Plus, she says, green bananas can sometimes cause reactions in people with latex allergies — yes, seriously. Derocha tells Elite Daily that, believe it or not, green bananas contain proteins similar to those found in latex, so if you already know that you and latex don't exactly do well together, keep that in mind before you start snacking on one of these underripe fruits.
If you find yourself with super green bananas in the kitchen and you just can't wait to enjoy them, Derocha says you can still use them to create delicious dishes. "Use green bananas in a smoothie or boil, or bake them to create a taste similar to a baked plantain," she tells Elite Daily. Cooking them, she explains, can help prevent some of the bloating and gassiness that they might otherwise cause when eaten raw.
But if green is just not your style, you can speed-ripen your bunch with a few easy hacks.
One brave writer at the foodie outlet Epicurious did some extremely important research to discover the best ways to get a banana to ripen quickly: If you roast green bananas in the oven at around 250 degrees Fahrenheit, you can bypass the natural waiting period and jump straight to sugary, soft bananas. According to the site, the low heat helps accelerate the ripening process, "turning them sweet and almost pudding-like in a mere 15-20 minutes." Yum.
Not eager to heat up your entire oven? Derocha suggests placing your bananas in a sealed paper bag with an apple. She tells Elite Daily that the gases the apple emits will help throw the ripening process into overdrive for quick, ripe bananas — which will be complete and total perfection if you're looking to whip up something like, say, Chrissy Teigen’s banana bread recipe at a moment's notice.
"The ideal ripeness really just depends on your taste buds," Derocha says. I guess the whole green-versus-spotty war really is bananas then, huh?