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Did you know that bananas are America’s favorite fruit? Americans eat more bananas each year than any other type of fresh fruit. In fact, Americans consume more bananas than apples and oranges combined! The average American eats roughly 25 pounds of bananas per year. If you think about it, it’s kind of funny how popular bananas are in America, since they’re mainly grown in tropical climates, like in the Caribbean, East Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia.
Nutritionally speaking, I often hear people say they don’t eat bananas due to their higher sugar content. One medium-sized banana contains about 14 grams of sugar. However, that’s sugar found naturally in the fruit, as opposed to white table sugar or another refined sugar. The difference between eating the whole fruit and eating 14 grams of refined sugar is that, with the fruit, you also get lots of fiber, as well as so many wonderful vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Each medium-sized banana offers over 3 grams of fiber. The fiber helps to slow down digestion of the food, helping to also minimize spikes in blood sugar levels. In fact, bananas fall into the low glycemic index foods with a glycemic index of 52. Foods that have a glycemic index under 55 are considered low glycemic index foods, meaning they’re unlikely to cause large spikes in blood sugar levels.
I mentioned above that bananas also offer wonderful vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, so I bet you’re wondering what these wonderful nutrients are, huh? Most people associate bananas with having a high amount of potassium. Bananas are a good source of potassium, but they only contain 9% of the daily recommended intake of potassium. That’s not too shabby, but there are many other foods that provide more potassium than this yellow fruit, including sweet and white potatoes, tomato sauce, watermelon, beets, Swiss chard, and black beans. In addition to potassium, a medium banana also offers about 22 percent and 17 percent of the daily recommended intake values for vitamins B6 and C. Providing just about 100 calories per serving, bananas make an excellent naturally sweet snack.
So as you can see, bananas are not only sweet and delicious, they’re also super nutritious as well. Try adding sliced banana to your next bowl of oatmeal or cold cereal. Top banana on yogurt for a high potassium meal. Or maybe serve yourself up some banana pancakes in the morning. I’ll be eating my banana with a scoop of almond butter for a bit of protein and healthy fats.
Are bananas your favorite fruit? Leave a comment below to share your favorite banana meal or snack.
Ashley is a registered dietitian and a licensed dietitian in the state of Texas. She graduated from Framingham State University, majoring in nutrition and dietetics and she completed her dietetic internship at the University of Connecticut. (more)