Meet the greener side of bananas
Green bananas may not be as well-known as their yellow counterparts, but we are happy to introduce them to the world as a foundational ingredient for all of our superfood snacks. Unlike yellow bananas, which are sweet, green bananas are a low-glycemic superhero full of soluble fiber and resistant starch which act as powerful prebiotics. This gut-friendly ingredient serves as an important base to all of our superfood snacks. Scroll on to learn more about prebiotics, resistant starch and why we should all go green when it comes to bananas!
What Are Green Bananas?
Green bananas are the unripened version of the ubiquitous yellow banana. Bananas have long been consumed all over the world, particularly in the tropical climates where they grow. All bananas start off green. During this stage, approximately 70-80% of their dry weight is starch (specifically resistant starch, which we will cover in more detail later). As a banana ripens, the starch converts into sugars such as sucrose, glucose, and fructose. This radically changes their impact on your body’s blood glucose level. By the time a banana is ripe, it only contains about 1% starch. Green bananas are also rich in pectin which is a form of dietary fiber found in fruits that helps them keep their form. As a banana ripens, the pectin breaks down, which is why overripe bananas are mushy.
What are prebiotic fibers and resistant starches?
Because of their high fiber content, green bananas are very filling. Additionally, they appear to have other impacts on satiety. Leptin is a powerful hormone produced by your body’s fat cells that helps regulate how much energy is stored in those fat cells. The body also uses leptin to signal that it has enough nutrients and can therefore impact our perception of hunger. Both pectin and resistant starches show promising signs for improving the body’s leptin signaling pathways, which means that foods high in pectin and resistant starches like green bananas may help to signal satiety and reduce appetite. At Nutreat, we believe that portion control is a critical component in maintaining a healthy body weight. While our superfood snacks are smaller than many treats available, they are a filling and healthy low glycemic low treat - and eating less should never mean staying hungry!
Green bananas also have gut-friendly prebiotic benefits. The resistant starch and pectin are not digested by the small intestine and make it intact to the large intestine, which is often referred to as the gut. While resistant starch is technically a starch, it behaves more like fiber, which is why the FDA classifies it as a dietary fiber. A healthy gut plays a critical role in many functions, from immunity to digestion to mood. To maintain a healthy gut, your body works in symbiosis with healthy bacteria which help it function. The friendly bacteria in your gut are dependent on prebiotic fiber, which feeds them and allows them to outcompete bad bacteria. By fermenting prebiotic fiber, the friendly bacteria also produce beneficial byproducts, such as short-chain fatty acids, which may help with digestive problems, mood and even protect against colon cancer.
Resistant starches can also help improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance and high blood sugar are key factors on the road to obesity and diabetes.
Lastly, many researchers are currently exploring the relationship between our gut and the brain. For example, almost all of the serotonin in our bodies is produced by our gut system. So, even our mental health could be impacted by the health of our gut.
What else makes bananas so nutritious?
In addition to all of the benefits from resistant starches, green bananas contain many important micronutrients such as potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, magnesium, copper, and manganese. Like the FDA, we believe the best source of nutrients is food, not supplements. So, you can feel good about all of the benefits in our superfood snacks.
How did you discover the benefits of green bananas?
We've literally gathered knowledge about green bananas from around the world. The journey starts where we grew up. In Brazil, bananas are a major part of our culture. When we lived in Florida, we were exposed to Latino cuisine, which features green bananas in many dishes. Next green banana stop: a year living in Australia, where delicious food and health go hand in hand. They have a deep understanding of resistant starch (see the video below!), glycemic load and the role of dietary "fibre" in our overall health, including mental aspects. In the end, the fusion of these experiences made green bananas an easy choice for the Nutreat Superfood Snacks.