So you want to know how much fiber is in a banana? So did we, and then we set about finding out exactly what this filling fruit is made up of, including some of the essential daily nutrients it provides and we put it all together in this post…
One medium banana weighing in at 118 grams contains 105 calories. It contains 25% of the Nutrient Reference Value or your Daily Recommended Intake for vitamin B6 (0.43mg). 16% for manganese(0.32mg), 14% for vitamin C (10.27mg), 12% for potassium (422.44mg) and fiber (3.07g) and 10% for copper (0.09mg) and biotin (3.07mcg).
When a banana is ripe it tastes nice and sweet, which makes sense considering it will contain 14 to 15 grams of sugar in total. However, bananas are a low glycemic index (GI) food. GI measures the impact that a food has on our blood sugar. A low GI food will be digested slowly, keeping you feeling fuller for longer, and will not cause your blood sugar levels to rise sharply upon consumption. This can best be explained by banana’s carbohydrate related properties.
Bananas are a great source of fiber. One medium banana contains about 3 grams of fiber. Fiber as a nutrient regulates the speed at which food is digested and contributes to healthy digestion. This means that conversion of carbohydrates to simple sugars and release of simple sugars from digesting food, stays well regulated within the body.
Although high in sugar, bananas are actually surprisingly good for digestion when compared with other fruits. This is because they contain pectins, which are a type of fiber, with some water soluble components and some not. When a banana ripens, the water soluble pectins increase which is why the banana becomes softer to the touch. As the water soluble pectins increase, so does the relative concentration of fructose within the banana, in comparison to other sugars. This increase in water-soluble pectins and higher proportional fructose content helps normalize the rate of carbohydrate digestion and moderates the impact of banana consumption on our blood sugar.
Similar to the importance of water-soluble pectins is the digestive importance of fructooligosaccharides (FOS) in bananas. FOS are unique fructose-containing carbohydrates that are not usually broken down by enzymes in our digestive tract. Instead, they move along through the digestive tract until they reach the lower intestine and get metabolized by bacteria. This process helps maintain the balance of “friendly” bacteria (such as Bifidobacteria) in our lower intestine, and therefore it supports our overall digestive health.
In one interesting study involving female participants, eating two bananas each day for two months led to significant increases in Bifidobacteria. Along with these increased levels of Bifidobacteria, participants also experienced fewer gastrointestinal problems and more regular bowel function when compared to other women in the study who drank a banana-flavored beverage that did not contain any actual banana.
Benefits for Cardiovascular Health
Bananas are rich in potassium which is an essential mineral that can help with maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. Since one medium banana contains more than 400 mg of potassium, (422mg) including them in your diet can help prevent high blood pressure and protect against atherosclerosis. Studies have shown that a diet rich in potassium, along with high levels of magnesium and whole grain fiber can substantially reduce blood pressure and the risk of stroke.
Bananas are an extremely low fat food (less than 4% calories from fat) but part of the fat that they do contain is in the form of sterols. Although these sterols look structurally similar to cholesterol, they can actually stop the absorption of dietary cholesterol, which can help us to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
They are also a great source of soluble fiber. Approximately one-third of the fiber in bananas is water-soluble fiber. For one medium-sized banana, this translates to 1 gram of soluble fiber per banana. A diet which contains plenty of soluble fiber is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease.
Aid to Athletic Performance
The unique mixture of vitamins, minerals, and low glycemic carbohydrates in bananas makes them a favorite fruit amongst athletes. They are great to enjoy prior to a workout to give you all of the energy you need to make it through.
A 2012 study of distance cyclists found that eating the equivalent of half a banana every 15 minutes of a three-hour race was just as good at keeping energy levels steady, as drinking an equivalent amount of carbohydrate and minerals from a processed sports drink. Bananas have long been valued by athletes for prevention of muscle cramps. This is thought to be because low potassium levels are known to contribute to risk of muscle cramps and bananas are a potassium rich food. So it follows that eating bananas can help prevent muscle cramps. In another recent study, consumption of one or two bananas prior to an hour of exercise was also shown to keep blood potassium levels higher after the training.
So basically including bananas in your diet is a no brainer and with all the amazing recipes you can make with them (see Smoothies and Oatmeal) you should be sure to add this filling fruit to your diet!