5 Healthy Reasons to Eat More Bananas—and Sweet Banana Recipes to Try

Here's everything you need to know about banana benefits and how they help boost your metabolism, hydration, energy, digestion, and more.

Bananas—aka the yellow-peeled fruit that sits on your kitchen counter until it's way too brown—are a pretty controversial fruit. Many people avoid bananas because they're naturally high in carbohydrates and sugars when compared to most other fruits. Yes, bananas are one of the higher-sugar fruits you can eat, but that doesn't mean you should toss them aside.

Bananas should be part of a healthy, balanced, produce-filled diet. There are many nutritional banana benefits you may not know about, like its metabolism-boosting fiber and hydration-supporting potassium content. Read on for some convincing reasons to make bananas a recurring staple in your diet.

Half-Peeled Banana on Yellow Background
Image Source/Getty Images

Nutrition Facts

"Your typical banana contains about 30 grams of carbohydrates and 14 grams of sugar, which is about double what you'll get with a cup of raspberries," says Tanya Zuckerbrot M.S., R.D., founder of F-Factor. According to the USDA, an average banana also contains about 1 gram of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and less than 1 gram of fat. It's also high in essential vitamins and minerals, including potassium (375 mg), magnesium (32 mg), vitamin C (14 mg), and vitamin B6 (.24 mg).

"Depending on the exact size of the banana, the calories, carbs, and sugar, for example, may be slightly higher or slightly lower," says functional medicine expert Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, D.C. Cole adds that while, yes, it's healthy to eat bananas, you should be conscious of the amount you're eating and careful not to overdo it: "Sugar is still sugar to your body, regardless [of whether] it's in the form of processed sugar or fructose from fruits."

Benefits of Eating Bananas

Bananas are rich in the electrolyte potassium.

Bananas are an excellent source of potassium, a mineral that's essential for many bodily functions. "One of the main reasons we need potassium is to regulate fluid balance in our bodies," says Jen Silverman, nutritionist and holistic health coach. "Potassium has also been shown to lower blood pressure, strengthen bones, and promote proper muscle function."

Bananas are high in fiber for healthy digestion and metabolism.

"Bananas contain soluble fiber, which swells like a sponge in the stomach giving food a jelly-like bulk that makes you feel full," Zuckerbrot says. "Soluble fiber also binds with calories and fat in the stomach and intestines and pulls them out of the body before they can enter the bloodstream. It supports blood glucose levels, supports your body with sustained energy, and helps you have regular bowel movements."

One reason many people might feel constipated when eating bananas is that fiber needs water to do its job—eating a fiber-rich diet requires drinking at least 2 liters of water per day. According to Silverman, you'll also want to pay attention to how ripe the banana is. "Unripe bananas—those greenish-yellow in color—can cause constipation, while ripe[r] bananas can relieve it," Silverman says. This is because unripe bananas contain more starch, whereas riper ones have a bit more fiber.

Bananas provide plenty of vitamin B6.

Zuckerbrot also notes that, among other benefits, this yellow fruit is a great source of vitamin B6. One medium-sized banana can provide about a fifth of your daily vitamin B6 needs, which is significant for many functions in the body, including metabolism.

Bananas are a natural, healthy source of carbs—excellent for workout energy and recovery.

"Bananas are a good source of carbohydrates and will provide fuel for workouts," Zuckerbrot explains. "They also may help reduce exercise-related muscle cramps and soreness." Zuckerbrot points to a study published in the Journal of Proteome Research in which, after fasting overnight, 20 male cyclists drank only water with pears or bananas before cycling at high intensity the next day. Those who drank water with fruit experienced a 50 percent faster recovery than those who only drank water with no fruit; they were also faster and had more energy.

Bananas are affordable and accessible.

If you're on a budget, bananas are an affordable fruit option because you can easily opt for non-organic. "They have a thick peel to help protect the edible part from pesticides," Cole explains. For this reason, they've never been on the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list, so it's less necessary to splurge on the organic variety.

How to Eat More Bananas

"My favorite way to enjoy bananas is in a batch of overnight oats. I take 1 cup of rolled oats, ¾ cup of almond milk, ½ banana, 1 teaspoon flax seeds, [and] 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and mix them together in a mason jar to make a delicious morning or afternoon treat," Silverman says. Another option is to slice bananas on a rice cake or piece of toast. "I take a piece of Ezekiel cinnamon raisin bread, slather on a layer of peanut butter, and add slices of bananas on top," Silverman adds.

Silverman also likes to use bananas in a smoothie to add natural creaminess and sweetness (definitely helpful to mask the bitter taste of vegetables!). "Here's a recipe my family loves: 1 cup fresh spinach, ½ cup frozen collard greens or kale, ½ cup almond or oat milk, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 banana, 1 tbsp hemp seeds, and ½ tbsp almond butter. Simply blend all together," Silverman says.

Zuckerbrot suggests using bananas in baking. "Mashed banana has the ideal consistency to be used in place of butter and oil in recipes for cookies, brownies, pancakes, and muffins."

Easy Recipes

Healthy Banana Bread

Banana Bread on Wooden Cutting Board with One Slice Cut
Grace Elkus

Here, healthier banana bread comes together thanks to whole-wheat flour, applesauce, and almond milk. These simple swaps give the fan-favorite quick bread an extra boost of fiber, vitamins, and a lot less sugar. Get the recipe.

3-Ingredient Chocolate-Banana Bites

Chocolate Banana Bites in a Bowl, Some Cut Open to Show Inside
Azurita/Getty Images

Say hello to chocolate-covered banana bites with almond butter, the easy-to-make, healthy-ish, snack-slash-dessert that will instantly satisfy your most powerful salty-sweet cravings. Get the recipe.

Coffee-Tahini Smoothie

Coffee Tahini Smoothie in a Glass
Caitlin Bensel

Thick, rich, and caffeinated (unless you use decaf, which is also divine), this scrumptious coffee smoothie boasts extreme creaminess with the help of avocado and frozen banana. Get the recipe.

Easy Frozen Banana Ice Cream

Two Scoops of Banana ice cream in a white bowl with sliced banana and mint as garnish
Tatiana Volgutova/Getty Images

A creamy, dreamy, frozen treat that requires—wait for it—one ingredient? Sign us up! All you need are frozen bananas, a blender, and some patience (which is probably the most difficult part). Get the recipe.

PB&J Overnight Oats With Sliced Banana

PB&J Overnight Oats Recipe
Antonis Achilleos

Unlike other overnight oat recipes, this one is bursting with flavor, thanks to a hearty spoonful of peanut butter. Each jar is topped with layers of strawberry jam, banana slices, and chopped peanuts. Get the recipe.

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  1. NIH, Office of Dietary Supplements, Potassium.

  2. Bae SH. Diets for constipationPediatr Gastroenterol Hepatol Nutr. 2014;17(4):203-208. doi:10.5223/pghn.2014.17.4.203

  3. NIH, Office of Dietary Supplements, Vitamin B6.

  4. Nieman DC, Gillitt ND, Sha W, et al. Metabolomics-based analysis of banana and pear ingestion on exercise performance and recoveryJ Proteome Res. 2015;14(12):5367-5377. doi:10.1021/acs.jproteome.5b00909

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