There is so much misinformation out there it can be hard to know the truth about what foods are bad for you if you are diabetic, especially when it comes to eating fresh fruit like bananas. Diabetics are told they need to swap processed refined carbohydrates for fresh fruit and vegetables; however, many dieticians recommend diabetics don’t consume fruits high in natural carbohydrates.
Bananas are one such fresh fruit that has attracted a lot of attention because they can have higher levels of carbohydrates. These are in form of fructose, which is a natural form of sugar and easier for the body to process. However, the effect on blood sugar is not uniformly bad.
As the American Diabetes Association (ADA) highlights, whether or not bananas are bad for diabetics comes down to how sensitive a diabetic is to natural carbohydrates. Some diabetics are highly sensitive to any carbohydrates whether natural or refined. Other diabetics may react to refined carbohydrates very badly but will not experience the same reaction to natural carbohydrates in fresh fruits such as bananas.
The ADA recommends that diabetics can still consume bananas, but they caution diabetics to plan their meals to account for the carbohydrates so that overall carbohydrate consumption is safe, and, they also suggest that diabetics become familiar with how much carbohydrate is in bananas.
The level of natural sugars in bananas is not uniform. The amount of carbohydrates in bananas depends on the size of the fruit you are consuming. The ADA points out that a large banana of around 9 inches (approximately 24 centimetres) may have up to 35 grams of carbohydrate. Dried banana, in the form of banana chips, can have up to 150 calories per 1 cup serving. This is as much as many confectionary foods like, chocolate bars, potato chips and cake.
Small bananas, though, are relatively safer for diabetics to eat as they may have as little as 18.5 grams of carbohydrate. This is more in line with other fruits and some vegetables.
The American Diabetes Association’s list of banana size and carbohydrates comparison looks like this:
- Extra Small Bananas – 6 inches long or less – have approximately 18.5 grams of carbohydrate;
- Small Bananas – between 6 and 7 inches long – contain around 23 grams of carbohydrate;
- Medium Bananas – between 7 and 8 inches long – have around 27 grams of carbohydrate;
- Large Bananas – between 8 and 9 inches long – contain approximately 31 grams of carbohydrate; and
- Very Large Bananas – over 9 inches in length – include 35 grams or more in carbohydrate.
Bananas are a good choice for food to snack on, or to add to a meal, like fruit salad or on top of breakfast cereal. They are full of fibre which is great for diabetics as it helps to digest and control blood sugar, harmful cholesterol and aids in promoting healthy bowel function.
Bananas are also rich in many vitamins such as; vitamin C, potassium, B vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 and folate, vitamin E and beta carotene which is a pre-cursor to vitamin A. Bananas are one of the most-nutritious natural foods available and are excellent for all people to include in their diet, especially diabetics who need many of the vitamins bananas come with. The B vitamins, vitamin E and beta carotene have a vital role to play in keeping blood, the nervous system, skin and body tissue and the cellular repair functions of the body working properly for good health.
So, if you are a diabetic and your condition is well-managed with your blood sugar levels under control, there is no reason why bananas can’t be a part of your overall healthy eating plan. They are a good diabetes-friendly snack.
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