Delima – Can Diabetics eat Banana?

This is a question that is very often asked by most diabetic patients. Few doctors advise them to eat bananas and there are few who ask them not to, which leaves the patients confused. In this article, I’ll try to give an answer based on the scientific facts to this question.
Banana is the most commonly available fruit anywhere in the world. It’s cheap and liked by most people because of the taste and flavor
The table given below shows the various nutrients present in a medium-sized Banana.

  1. Calories 105
  2. Carbohydrates 27 G
  3. Sugars 14G
  4. Vitamin C 10 mg
    5.Potassium 422 mg.
  5. Water 88G.
    From the above table we observe that each medium sized fruit contains 105 calories in which there are 14 grams of sugar which tend to increase the blood sugar rapidly. However interestingly the fruit also contains 3grams of fibre which dampens the Rise of blood sugar, and it also has 14 grams of complex carbohydrates which also does not cause early Rise of blood sugar. Hence the glycemic index of Banana is low to medium.Before we go further let me discuss something about glycemic index.

Glycemic Index: ( G I )

It is a value assigned to each food based on how slowly or quickly the given food increases the blood sugar levels. While assigning the G I value of each food it is compared with glucose which is considered as 100%.
Foods low on the scale tend to release the glucose slowly and steadily and foods high in the G I scale tend to release the glucose rapidly.
Different foods are classified into low, medium and high categories, depending on their G I values.

  1. Low G I Foods : 55% and below.
  2. Medium G I foods : 56 to 69 %.
  3. High G I foods : 70% and above.
    Diabetics are advised to avoid foods with high glycemic index as they result in Rapid increase in blood sugar.
    The glycemic index of banana is between 42% to 62%. The G I values vary depending on the ripening of the fruit and various other factors. The G I value is between low to medium which is desirable.
    Unripe or Green bananas contain less sugar and resistant starches. Raw bananas contain long chain of glucose ( starch ) which are resistant to digestion in the upper part of the
    G I tract. They function as fibre and do not cause a rise in the blood sugar.These resistant starches contribute to better blood sugar levels and improved metabolic health.They are found to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation. As the banana ripens the sugar content of it increases and results in higher G I value.

Size of the Fruit:

As the size of the fruit increases the amount of Sugars and carbohydrates increase which results in increase in the caloric value.
Bananas are classified as small medium and large depending on the length of the fruit.
Small : 6 to 7 inches. –23 G of Carbs.
Medium : 7 to 8 inches.– 27 G of carbs.
Large : 8 to 9 inches –31 to 35 G of carbs.

What all factors to consider when Diabetics eat Banana :
1.The size of the fruit: It is advisable to select small or medium sized fruit.

  1. Ripeness: Donot select ripe or over ripe fruit.
    3.Eat it with other foods such as nuts like almonds, pistachios, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and ground nuts and / or full fat yoghurt, or any protein source. This helps the person feel full and hence reduces the urge to snacking frequently
    4.Time at which to eat: It has been found in a study that by serving Banana with breakfast, it didn’t have significant effects on Blood sugar directly after eating however it resulted in reduction of Fasting Blood Sugar ( FBS )
  2. After eating a Banana it’s advisable to reduce the carbohydrates equivalent to the calories provided by the fruit.
  3. The response to eating banana on blood sugar may vary from person to person. Hence testing blood sugar before and after eating banana may help determine whether it affects the blood sugar levels significantly.
    American diabetes Association ( ADA ) also recommends to include any fruit either whole or a part in the meal plan.

Other benefits of Banana :

They are low in saturated fat and sodium and are rich in fiber, nutrient-dense, and they are a good source of potassium. In addition, they provide,
Vitamin B6
Vitamin C.
and trace elements like manganese and magnesium.
and Antioxidants
1 medium-size banana gives 422 mg. of potassium, which equals 9% of the per day requirement.
They help lower BP, and they’re supposed to be heart-healthy because of the antioxidant content.
Due to the rich fiber content, they relieve constipation and aid G I health.
They are rich in an essential amino acid called Tryptophan which helps preserve memory and boost the ability to learn and remember things and regulate the mood.
Because of all the Nutrients and other benefits as enumerated above it’s no surprise that it needs to be included in the meal plan of a diabetic, provided caution is exercised and the precautions mentioned earlier are kept in mind.
I hope that the information provided will motivate patients with Diabetes to include it in their meal plan which adds variety and avoids the monotony, and assure them that they need not exclude it totally.
I look forward to your help in disseminating this information to as many people suffering from Diabetes as possible and to all others who may, in turn, pass the information to their friends and relatives, by forwarding this message.

Written By,

Dr A. A.Pangi.
Chief Physician, and Diabetologist
Annapurna Multispecility Hospital


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