Can People with Diabetes Eat Bananas? (2024)

The banana is a highly versatile, delicious fruit that's easy to digest and touted for its many health benefits, such as protection against oxidative stress and chronic disease due to its high fiber and antioxidant contents. Bananas' soft texture and sweet taste make them a healthy option for most people—including babies and older adults, who may struggle with chewing and swallowing tougher foods, as well as athletes and active individuals who need a quick energy source while on the go.

But are bananas safe to eat for those living with diabetes? Keep reading to find out. Plus, we'll cover how bananas affect blood sugar and the benefits of consuming bananas if you have diabetes.

Is It Safe to Eat Brown Bananas?

Banana Nutrition

One medium banana has:

  • 105 calories
  • 1g protein
  • 0g fat
  • 27g carbohydrates
  • 3 grams fiber (11% Daily Value (DV))
  • 422 milligrams potassium (9% DV)
  • 10 milligrams vitamin C (11% DV)
  • 0.4 milligrams vitamin B6 (24% DV)

Bananas are most known for this potassium content, but they are also high in fiber, vitamin C and vitamin B6. Potassium plays a role in maintaining fluid balance within the body and regulating blood pressure. Fiber and vitamin C are highly regarded for their impacts on digestive, heart and immune health. Vitamin B6 assists in hundreds of enzyme reactions and protein metabolism.

How Bananas Affect Your Blood Sugar

People with diabetes must be careful when eating carbohydrate-rich foods. That's because carbs raise your blood sugar more than any other nutrient, meaning the type of carbs you eat can significantly impact blood sugar management. In addition, high-carb foods tend to have a higher ranking on the glycemic index—a 100-point scale that measures how fast a certain food increases blood sugar levels. In people without diabetes, their pancreas releases insulin into the bloodstream when they experience a blood sugar spike. Insulin then moves the sugar out of the blood and into the cells, where it's used for energy or stored for later use. However, people with diabetes either don't produce enough insulin to transport sugar out of the blood, or their bodies can't use insulin as they should, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since bananas contain sugar, they can cause blood sugar to rise more than other foods do. According to the Department of Agriculture's FoodData Central, one medium banana contains approximately 27 grams of carbs and 14 grams of sugar. However, like most other whole-food sources of sugar, bananas contain fiber (about 3 grams per medium banana). Fiber is a powerhouse nutrient that has many health benefits. In terms of diabetes, fiber blunts blood sugar spikes. It enhances your body's ability to regulate blood sugar by slowing down the digestion and absorption of carbs, per a 2018 review published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine.

According to Kelsey Lorencz, RD, a registered dietitian and nutrition advisor at Zenmaster Wellness, bananas are fine to eat if you have diabetes. "The carbs found in bananas are broken down into glucose, which enters the bloodstream before heading to cells for energy. Eating a banana will cause blood sugar to increase, but depending on how much you eat, what you pair it with and the ripeness, that's not necessarily a bad thing," says Lorencz. "A riper banana will have more sugar, and a banana on the green side will have less sugar and more resistant starch, which doesn't impact blood sugar."

Do Bananas Lose Fiber When They Ripen?

Benefits of Eating Bananas

While people with diabetes need to moderate their carb intake, they still need to consume healthy carbs for energy. "Eating healthy carbs is especially important for people with diabetes if they're taking any blood sugar-lowering medications," explains Lorencz. "Bananas are good sources of fiber, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6 and manganese."

Bananas are a great source of quick energy, and eating them may provide several health benefits for those with diabetes.

Can Improve Insulin Sensitivity

Green (or unripe) bananas contain less sugar and more resistant starch than riper bananas. According to a 2019 review published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, resistant starch is a carbohydrate that can't be digested in your small intestine and has many health benefits, such as improved digestion, reduced cholesterol and improved gut health. Resistant starch improves insulin sensitivity in people with metabolic syndrome, including diabetes.

Can Help Regulate Blood Sugar

The resistant starch found in green bananas functions similarly to fiber in that it slows the digestion of carbs and prevents blood sugar spiking, according to a 2019 review published in Nutrients. In addition, resistant starch may help your gut bacteria, which can improve insulin function and help people with diabetes better manage their blood sugar, per a 2022 publication in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences. In addition, bananas rank low on the GI scale. Ripe bananas score 51, while greener, less ripe bananas can score as low as 42, per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Boost Your Heart Health

When it comes to diabetes, taking good care of your heart is vital. According to the National Institutes of Health, people with diabetes are more likely to develop heart disease and have risk factors for heart attack and stroke, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Fortunately, the vitamins and minerals found in bananas have heart-protective properties. For example, bananas are an excellent source of potassium, a nutrient essential for proper heart function. Increasing potassium intake can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. In addition, bananas are a good source of magnesium, which is correlated with lower blood pressure and reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. One medium banana contains 422 milligrams of potassium (9% of the Daily Value) and 32 mg of magnesium (8% DV).

Tips for Including Bananas in a Healthy Diabetes Diet

If you have diabetes, the following tips can help you enjoy bananas while keeping your blood sugar in check:

  • Combine bananas with foods that are high in protein and fats to slow down your body's digestion and absorption of sugar. For example, add a banana to a smoothie containing chia seeds or flaxseed, try our flavor-packed Lemon-Blueberry Nice Cream, make our Breakfast Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cakes or eat a handful of nuts along with a banana.
  • Eat greener, less ripe bananas, as they are higher in resistant starch and lower in sugar.
  • Consume smaller bananas to lower the amount of sugar entering your blood.

Lorencz adds, "Choose bananas that are a little on the green side. Then, pair them with a protein and fat source, like peanut butter or hard-boiled eggs, for a healthy and satisfying breakfast to keep your blood sugar stable."

The Bottom Line

Bananas are a delicious, nutritious and affordable food for everyone, including those with diabetes. Eating this healthy fruit can help stabilize blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity and improve heart health. Though bananas are higher in carbs and sugars than some foods, they also contain fiber and resistant starch that slows down the digestion and release of sugar into your bloodstream. These qualities make bananas a healthy, go-to snack for people with diabetes. However, if you have diabetes, consider choosing smaller, less ripe bananas and pairing them with other healthy foods high in protein and fats.

Can People with Diabetes Eat Fruits?

Can People with Diabetes Eat Bananas? (2024)


Can People with Diabetes Eat Bananas? ›

Takeaway. A person with diabetes should include a variety of fresh, whole foods in their diet, such as nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. Bananas are a safe and nutritious fruit for people with diabetes to eat in moderation as part of a balanced, individualized eating plan.

How many bananas can a diabetic eat a day? ›

People with diabetes can eat 1-2 medium-sized bananas a day. You can also follow the given tips to minimize their effect on your blood sugar levels: Eat a smaller banana to reduce your sugar intake. Try eating less ripened bananas, so the sugar is slightly on the lower side.

Do bananas raise your blood sugar? ›

Bananas contain carbs, which raise blood sugar

This is because carbs raise your blood sugar level more than other nutrients, which means they can greatly affect your blood sugar management.

What is the best fruit for diabetics? ›

Top Fruits for Diabetics
  • Apples. According to the American Diabetes Association, the GI of an apple ranges from 32 to 38. ...
  • Berries. Berries, such as blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries, have a GI range of 28-40. ...
  • Kiwi. ...
  • Citrus fruits. ...
  • Avocados. ...
  • Apricots. ...
  • Peaches. ...
  • Cherries.
Oct 1, 2023

Is peanut butter good for diabetics? ›

Peanut butter contains essential nutrients, and it can be part of a healthful diet when a person has diabetes. However, it is important to eat it in moderation, as it contains a lot of calories. People should also make sure their brand of peanut butter is not high in added sugar, salt, or fat.

What fruit does not spike blood sugar? ›

Strawberries and raspberries.

As sweet as they taste, strawberries contain the lowest amount of sugar per serving. Research shows they help the body better use insulin, lowering the amount needed to manage your blood sugar after a meal. Raspberries are also loaded with fiber and low in sugar.

Are eggs good for diabetics? ›

Protein-rich foods like eggs can play an important role in regulating blood sugar levels for people with diabetes. Plus, eggs contain many essential vitamins and minerals, and have just 80 calories each.

Are grapes ok for diabetics? ›

The low range of GI and GL make grapes an acceptable and desirable part of the diet of diabetic individuals. Grapes, especially darkly colored fruits, have an abundance of antioxidant molecules that have the ability to regulate insulin and glucose metabolism and oxidative stress induced in this disease.

What fruit has the lowest sugar? ›

Low-sugar fruits include:
  1. Strawberries. Strawberries, like many other berries, are often high in fiber and contain very little sugar. ...
  2. Peaches. Although they taste sweet, a medium sized peach only contains around 13 g of sugar .
  3. Blackberries. ...
  4. Lemons and limes. ...
  5. Honeydew melon. ...
  6. Oranges. ...
  7. Grapefruit. ...
  8. Avocados.

What is the best meat for diabetics? ›

Beef, pork, veal and lamb
  • Select or Choice grades of beef trimmed of fat including: chuck, rib, rump roast, round, sirloin, cubed, flank, porterhouse, T-bone steak or tenderloin.
  • Lamb: chop, leg or roast.
  • Veal: loin chop or roast.
  • Pork: Canadian bacon, center loin chop, ham or tenderloin.

What food can diabetics eat freely? ›

Here are some examples of free foods for diabetics, as outlined by a committee of the American Diabetes Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:
  • Carbonated water.
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder.
  • Coffee or tea.
  • 1 cup raw cabbage.
  • Hard, sugar-free candy.
  • 1 cup raw cucumber.
  • 2 tablespoons whipped topping.
Jul 13, 2007

Why should diabetics avoid eggs? ›

In addition, a diet enriched with egg yolk was associated with elevated plasma glucose compared with a control diet in rats (9). Data from the Zutphen Study (10) have indicated a positive association between egg consumption or dietary cholesterol and fasting glucose.

What should diabetics drink first thing in the morning? ›

Water is the best all-round drink. If your family likes flavoured waters, make your own by adding a squeeze of lemon or lime, or strawberries.

Can diabetics eat pizza? ›

The short answer to this question is yes, people with diabetes can enjoy all types of pizza. In moderation, people living with diabetes can safely enjoy all types of foods that are often viewed as “unhealthy”, including yummy pizza.

Can a Type 2 diabetic eat a banana every day? ›

But it is rich in fibre and has a low glycemic index. Diabetics can eat banana, but in moderation." On being asked in which quantities should people with diabetes eat bananas, she says, "A small banana twice or thrice a week is safe diabetics. But, a diabetic should not consume banana daily."

Can a Type 2 diabetic eat a banana a day? ›

Takeaway. A person with diabetes should include a variety of fresh, whole foods in their diet, such as nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. Bananas are a safe and nutritious fruit for people with diabetes to eat in moderation as part of a balanced, individualized eating plan.

Which fruit raises blood sugar the most? ›

Because a banana's starch is converted to sugar as it ripens, very ripe bananas have the most significant impact on blood sugar: Their GI can jump into the mid-range at 57, making them a bit more likely to trigger a spike.

Should diabetics eat grapes? ›

The low range of GI and GL make grapes an acceptable and desirable part of the diet of diabetic individuals. Grapes, especially darkly colored fruits, have an abundance of antioxidant molecules that have the ability to regulate insulin and glucose metabolism and oxidative stress induced in this disease.

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