When it comes to bananas, the vast majority of people gravitate towards a yellow banana.
However, some people prefer eating green bananas or simply find that when they buy bananas at the grocery store, they are still green, and if they want to eat a banana, they are relegated to eating a green banana vs yellow banana.
But, can you eat green bananas? Are green bananas good for you?
In this guide, we will discuss what green bananas are, green banana benefits vs yellow banana benefits, nutrition in green bananas, and ultimately answer your question: Can you eat green bananas?
We will look at:
- Can You Eat Green Bananas?
- What Are the Differences Between Green Bananas and Yellow Bananas?
- Are Green Bananas Good for Weight Loss?
Let’s get started!
Can You Eat Green Bananas?
Before we answer the common question: “Are green bananas good for you?” let’s first address the common safety concern: “It is OK to eat a green banana?“
The short answer is yes, it is absolutely fine to eat green bananas.
Bananas that are green are simply unripe or unripened bananas in their immature state.
When bananas grow, the peel of the fruit starts as a dark green color that gradually becomes yellow as the banana ripens, eventually turning brown or yellow speckled with brown when you have an overly ripe yellow banana.
For this reason, there is no actual botanical difference in fruits between a yellow vs green banana—there is simply a difference in maturity or ripeness of the fruit.
It is safe and normal to consume raw green bananas, although many people eat boiled green bananas to help break down some of the starchiness.
Green bananas are also turned into a flour and used in various preparations for baking or cooking.
What Are the Differences Between Green Bananas and Yellow Bananas?
There are distinct textural and taste differences between green bananas vs yellow bananas due to this difference in ripeness.
Eating green bananas is often equated more to eating a plantain than a sweet yellow banana.
You will find that a green banana is much firmer and starchier than the softer, almost mushy, or squishy flesh of a ripe yellow banana.
Green bananas are also harder to peel because there is more fiber and cellulose in the banana peel, and the peel is thicker and more like a plant stalk than a soft and thin banana peel.
The biggest difference between green bananas and yellow bananas is in their taste or flavor.
Because green bananas are unripe bananas, they are notably less sweet and may even have a tart or bitter flavor compared to a ripe yellow banana.
Green bananas are described as having “resistant starch.“
Resistant starch in green bananas will be discussed more in the section covering the health benefits of green bananas and the nutrition of a green banana vs yellow banana.
But the takeaway is that more of the carbohydrates in a green banana are complex carbohydrates in the form of starch rather than simple carbs in the form of fructose and sugar.
This is because as the banana fruit ages on the tree, some of the fiber, starch, cellulose, and longer carbohydrate polysaccharide chains begin to break down into simple sugars rather than starchy carbohydrates.
For this reason, green bananas taste much less sweet and have a starchier, tougher, firmer mouth feel than yellow bananas, wherein more of the fiber and “resistant starch” in a green banana has broken down to fructose and other simple sugars.
Are Green Bananas Good for Weight Loss?
So, are green bananas good for you? Are there differences in green banana nutrition facts vs yellow banana nutrition? Are green bananas better for weight loss?
Generally speaking, it can be argued that green bananas are healthier than yellow bananas, eating green bananas may be better for weight loss, and the health benefits of green bananas have earned them a classification of a “functional food.”
However, by and large, the nutrition in a green banana is the same as that provided by eating a yellow banana in terms of the calories in a green banana versus yellow banana and the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
According to the USDA nutrition facts, there are about 105 calories in an average medium-sized banana, 90% of which come from carbohydrates.
The main difference in nutrition in green bananas vs yellow bananas lies within the distribution of carbohydrates.
Eating a green banana will provide you with more fiber and complex carbohydrates due to the resistant starch, whereas eating bananas that are ripe will provide roughly the same number of grams of carbohydrates in a banana but more sugar and a little less fiber.
Because fiber increases satiety and eating too much fructose can cause a spike in blood sugar and a resultant spike in insulin, eating green bananas for weight loss is generally better than eating overly ripe brown bananas or yellow bananas.
Here are several potential health and weight loss greens banana benefits:
Green Bananas Contain Fiber and Resistant Starch
The fiber in a yellow banana is about 7% of your daily value, which for 105 calories in a banana is a decent amount of fiber calorie for calorie.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a specific nutritional analysis that looks at the fiber in green bananas vs yellow bananas.
However, we do know that there is more fiber in green bananas than yellow bananas because unripe bananas still have more of the cellulose, pectin, and resistant starch intact, all of which are fiber carbohydrates rather than sugar carbohydrates.
According to research, up to 70 to 80% of the dry weight of a green banana or unripe banana is starch, most of which is classified as resistant starch.
Resistant starch, like dietary fiber, is not digested in the small intestines.
In contrast, yellow bananas only contain 1% starch because the starch is converted into fructose, glucose, sucrose, and other sugars during the ripening process.
The reason that a green banana is so firm is that it contains a lot of pectin, which is a special type of prebiotic fiber that helps feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
The human digestive system also cannot break down pectin, so proponents of eating green bananas say that this contributes to green bananas being good for weight loss and that some of the calories are not absorbed.
As the banana ripens, the pectin fiber breaks down, which is why bananas get increasingly soft and mushy as they age.
Together, research suggests that pectin fiber and resistant starch in a green banana confers some of the primary health benefits of green bananas, such as improving blood sugar control, digestive health, and nourishing gut bacteria.
A healthy gut microbiome is crucial to maintaining optimal body weight and health, as the beneficial bacteria that reside in your gut produce vitamins such as vitamin K and certain B vitamins, improve immunity, decrease inflammation, support better digestion, and produce short-chain fatty acids that may help increase energy and burn calories.
Furthermore, in terms of eating green bananas for weight loss, eating foods high in resistant starch has also been shown to increase fullness after the meal.
Research has found that people may consume less food after eating foods high in resistant starch, such as green bananas.
Green Bananas Are Lower Glycemic Fruits
The ripeness of a banana also factors into the glycemic index of the fruit, which, in turn, makes eating green bananas better for weight loss than yellow bananas.
The glycemic index (GI) is a scale that measures the relative extent to which a carbohydrate-based food increases your blood sugar levels after consumption.
The glycemic index of a banana is about 42–62 (out of 100), depending on ripeness.
The riper the banana, the higher the glycemic index will be.
Green bananas have a glycemic index value of around 40 to 42, which is considered a low-glycemic food.
This metric reflects the fact that eating green bananas will provide you with a stable and slower stream of blood sugar release and can help increase satiety.
Studies have found that consuming more low-glycemic foods may contribute to weight loss over time.
So, can you eat green bananas? Yes!
But perhaps you would prefer to eat them boiled rather than raw. To learn about the nutrition facts and a how-to guide on boiled green bananas, click here!