Health & Benefits
April 27th 2021 ・ 4 min reading
We all love a sweet snack – and here at Chiquita, we’re particularly fond of the delicious, top quality taste of our bananas, naturally! But if you’re trying to live a healthy lifestyle, you may have wondered about those yummy banana calories. Is our sunny yellow friend, the banana, one of the healthiest fruits you can buy? The excellent news is that bananas are a really healthy snack choice, because they are bursting with nutrients.
In one banana, calories amount to so much less than the whole story about our favorite fruit, as you’ll see. Below, we will look at banana nutrition, and get the whole story about this healthy, low-calorie snack.
First, the basic stuff of banana nutrition: bananas come in various sizes because they’re a totally natural product, and that’s just how Mother Nature is! So, how can you tell how many calories there are in the banana you’re about to enjoy? As a rough guide, an extra small banana under 6 inches long, which is about the smallest you’re likely to find, weighs around 80 grams and contains about 72 calories. A small banana of 6-7 inches long offers you around 90 calories, and a medium banana, 7-8 inches long, contains around 105 of those delightful banana calories. This is the size that most fruit calorie guides will use when they give you the calories per fruit.
A large banana, around 8-9 inches long, has around 121 calories and an extra-large one (lucky find!) over 9 inches long would contain around 135 banana calories. A cup of banana slices at about 150 grams will provide around 134 calories, and a cup of mashed banana, weighing 225 grams or so, contains around 200 calories. Most of the calories in a banana come from carbs, with a little from protein, and importantly (as you’ll see) they also contain between 2-4 grams of fiber each.
Are carbs not a bad thing, if you’re counting calories? Well, not always. Bananas – particularly when they are less ripe – contain carbs in the form of starch, some of which is a type known as resistant starch. Resistant starch does what you might think it would: it resists digestion and works like fiber in the body. In fact, this means it doesn’t change at all until it reaches your colon, where it feeds your friendly gut bacteria. Who knew those banana calories were so useful?
Bananas are a great healthy snack and the perfect alternative to candy or processed treats because the sweet taste that develops as they ripen is due to naturally occurring sugars. This makes them much better, nutritionally speaking, than conventional highly processed foods like energy bars, candies, and packaged snacks. The natural sugars in a banana are very different to the processed sugars in packaged snacks.
The difference, from the sugars’ point of view, is the amount of soluble fiber and resistant starch in the fruit – per banana calorie, they contain an impressive amount of fiber. This teams with the sugars that give Chiquita bananas their great taste to ensure they are provided slowly and steadily to the body, so your energy levels stay nicely stable. These helpful benefits of fiber also help to explain why bananas are only low to medium on the Glycemic Index (the scale of the Index goes from 1-100 where pure glucose has the highest score of all foods at 100). The sustained energy boost from those delicious banana calories is one of the key reasons why endurance athletes love them.
Bananas are one of the best fruits for health because they have good levels of some vital vitamins and minerals. They are a famously good source of potassium, which contributes to the normal functioning of the nervous system and muscle function. Potassium also helps with maintaining normal blood pressure.
A banana, as a healthy snack, will also provide you with 22% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin B6. This helpful and very busy vitamin has lots of functions in the body – it’s needed for neuron transmission in the brain and helps to ensure your digestive enzymes are working properly, keeps your skin healthy and helps to produce red blood cells.
Bananas also contain magnesium, vitamin C (an important antioxidant) and B9 (also known as folate). As a handy, robust and easy-to-carry package, these benefits prove that bananas are one of the most healthy fruits around and the ideal healthy low-calorie snack.
Bananas alone cannot help you to lose weight, but a balanced diet that contains bananas can help you to reach your goal of four to five vegetable or fruit servings per day. They also help keep you feeling full, so you’re less likely to reach for the candy. So, when you’re craving something sweet and delicious but are looking for a really healthy snack to buy, why not reach for a banana in your local store? Those tasty banana calories can be really good for you!
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