For those of us who like them, bananas are a great source of nutrients. Rich in antioxidants, potassium, and vitamins B6 and C, bananas are also a good source of fiber! Fiber is often under-appreciated – far from simply helping to ease digestion, fiber also has many health benefits, such as lowering cholesterol, protecting against stroke, and lowering blood pressure. Different types of fiber can also nourish the good bacteria we have living in our intestines; bananas are rich in a type of fiber called resistant starch, which passes through our system undigested, and benefits bacterial allies in our gut.
Don't throw those browned bananas away:
The problem many of us have with bananas is how quickly they ripen – especially bananas from the organic aisle. Did you know that as bananas ripen and change color, their nutrient profile changes as well?
Regardless of color, bananas are a good source of potassium and vitamins, but as a banana gets browner, its concentration of antioxidants increases. Eating a brown banana can boost your antioxidant intake, helping your body protect itself against inflammation and free-radicals.
As bananas age, that resistant starch that acts as good dietary fiber begins to convert in simple sugars. A green banana is fiber-rich, and good for your gut bacteria, while a browner banana is sweeter, and may provide more carbohydrates than you think – one reason why it's of recommended that Type-2 diabetics avoid the browner variety as a way of cutting back on sugar.
Those who aren't counting carbs as closely, but who may suffer from irritable bowels may benefit from brown bananas, as much digestion is already done, and these fruits may cause less irritation for a sensitive digestive system.
Green bananas or brown?
So what bananas are best for you? Well, if you want to add fiber to your diet, or you're looking to cultivate healthier microbial allies in your gut, greener bananas are best. If you want something a little sweeter, have a ripened banana – you also get the benefit of all those extra antioxidants.
If you don't like the taste or texture of a browning banana, what should you do? You can throw overripe bananas into your freezer for longer storage. Some of us at AGS, store our over-ripe bananas in the freezer to use later in smoothies – a great way to sweeten the a health shake and bolster our antioxidant count! Or if you're a baker, use them in banana-bread and cookies. Brown bananas can also liven up a bland dish like steel-cut oatmeal or plain Greek yogurt
So what kind of banana do you prefer? Let us know in the comments!
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