Did you know that a banana is technically a berry? According to Wikipedia…
“The banana is an edible fruit, botanically a berry, produced by several kinds of large herbaceous flowering plants in the genus Musa. In some countries, bananas used for cooking may be called plantains. The fruit is variable in size, color and firmness, but is usually elongated and curved, with soft flesh rich in starch covered with a rind which may be green, yellow, red, purple, or brown when ripe. “
Are Bananas Healthy?
Listen to what Dr. Josh Axe has to say about bananas at his chopping block. Will he give it the ‘axe’ or no? Sorry couldn’t resist it! 🙂
The key takeaways are:
- Bananas contain a lot of sugar.
- They don’t have much protein.
- They have almost zero fat content but this also means almost zero ‘good’ fat.
- They are extremely rich in potassium – one of the highest.
- They have good magnesium content too.
- Bananas are better than healthy grains in terms of low carbs and low glycemic index. (But not as good as berries.)
Bananas having a lot of sugar could be a problem if you have gout because studies have linked fructose to high uric acid, the cause of gout…
The American Heart Association’s recommendation is a maximum of 45g of sugar per day for men and 30g for women, from all sources.
But what does that mean in terms of the fruit you eat? Fruits come in different shapes and sizes and have varying sugar content. How can you compare one with another? How much sugar has one banana? How many strawberries would you need to eat to consume the same amount of sugar as one banana? What about an apple compared with a banana? Or a pineapple slice?
Well, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has made it easy for you by basing their nutritional recommendation on ‘cups of fruit’ per day. Generally speaking, they recommend consuming 2 cups of fruit for men and women, although for women over 31 it’s 1 1/2 cups.
The following table compares bananas with a few other popular fruits…
Sugar Content of Bananas v Other Fruits
|1 Cup of Fruit||Sugar Content Per Cup (grams)|
So a serving of bananas has way more sugar than the equivalent servings of strawberries and blackberries. And a good deal more than apples.
One medium-sized banana contains around 14.43g of sugar – of which 7.1g is fructose – and 105 calories (USDA National Nutrient Database).
Sugar, being a carbohydrate, produces calories: 4 calories per gram of sugar. So the sugar in a medium banana will produce around 58 calories (4 x 14.43), which is more than half (55%) of its calorific content, i.e. more than half of a banana is actually sugar.
On the other hand, bananas are an excellent source of fiber, folate, potassium, manganese and vitamins B6 & C, as well as other vitamins and nutrients, and are low in sodium. Fantastic for your general health.
On balance, then, in terms of the population at large, bananas have lots of health benefits. But most health experts recommend not eating more than 2 medium bananas per day as part of a healthy, varied, balanced diet.
Gout and Bananas
Both purines and fructose metabolize into uric acid. And we know that high uric acid (hyperuricemia) is the cause of gout. So gout sufferers have to be extremely careful with what they eat; basically avoiding high-purine and high-fructose foods.
Purines in bananas produce 57mg of uric acid per 100mg of banana. This is considered a low purine level and safe for gout sufferers to eat. But it should be noted that cherries produce 7mg – 17mg uric acid / 100mg, depending on the type of cherry; a much lower, and better, level.
And bananas contain 2.7g of fructose per 100g whilst cherries contain 3.3g – 6.2g per 100g, depending on the type of cherry.
In terms of fructose content, bananas are perhaps slightly better than cherries, whilst in terms of purine content they are not nearly as good as cherries.
The reason for the cherries comparison is that they are one of the most studied fruits in terms of their benefits for gout. Several studies have shown that eating cherries on a daily basis can not only reduce inflammation but also reduce uric acid levels.
It’s reasonable to suppose then that, since cherries are widely recognised as being good for gout, and bananas have generally less fructose than cherries, that, as far as fructose levels are concerned, bananas would be a suitable addition to a good gout diet.
In terms of purine content, although cherries have lower purine levels, bananas are still well below the top end (100g uric acid / 100g) of what is recognised as being ‘low’ purine content. Once again, they pass the ‘purine’ test.
But there’s more: Bananas are potassium-rich and studies have shown that potassium citrate prevents urine from becoming too acidic. This helps prevent the formation of uric acid kidney stones. And, believe me, you don’t want those!
So, overall, bananas are a very good addition to your gout diet. But stick to the recommended maximum of 2 medium-sized ones per day.
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