The basic rule of nutrition for diabetic people is keep blood sugar levels as stable as possible. Good glucose control can help prevent or delay the progression of some of the main medical complications of diabetes and that is why one of the main measures is to avoid or minimize the consumption of foods that trigger blood sugar spikes . While there is no question about the benefits of consuming fresh and seasonal fruits, they do not all have the same effects. Bananas are a variant that has raised many questions, since despite being a healthy fruit; They are high in carbohydrates and sugar, which are the main nutrients that raise blood glucose levels. We invite you to learn more about the effects of banana consumption in the diet of people with diabetes.
The first is the first: Let’s understand that carbohydrates raise blood sugar more than other nutrients, which means they can greatly affect blood sugar control. Now, in a person without diabetes, when the sugar levels rise, their bodies naturally produce insulin and this fasts to remove the sugar from the blood to the cells, where it is used or stored. However, this process does not work as it should in people with diabetes. Instead, the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells are resistant to the insulin that is produced.
Therefore, when you do not have adequate control of diabetes it is very possible to experience spikes in blood sugar after eating carbohydrate-rich foods or consistently high glucose levels. This is a very unhealthy constant.
Fruits are an important dietary addition to any healthy diet, however people with diabetes should watch their consumption and choose well. In the case of bananas, the first thing that is important to analyze is their sugar and carbohydrate content.
– A medium banana (approximately 126 grams) contains 29 grams of carbohydrates and 112 calories. It should be mentioned that carbohydrates are in the form of sugar, starch, and fiber. It also provides 15 grams of sugar.
What is relevant around bananas is that they also contain fiber. It is well known that it is a very important nutrient that plays an important role in reducing blood sugar spikes. Therefore, in addition to starch and sugar: a medium banana contains 3 grams of fiber.
By now we all know that adequate fiber intake is one of the most important dietary measures for good health. So whether you have diabetes or not, eating enough fiber is key to preventing numerous conditions and diseases. Nevertheless, Fiber is especially important for people with diabetes because it can help slow the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. This can reduce blood sugar spikes and improve overall blood sugar control.
Another concept that is important in determining how a carbohydrate-containing food will affect blood sugar levels is by looking at its glycemic index (GI). It is a measurement that classifies foods according to how much and how quickly blood sugar levels rise. Scores range from 0 to 100 with the following ratings:
– Low GI: 55 or less
– Average GI: 56–69
– IG alto: 70-100
One of the main recommendations for diabetic meal plans is to base your diet on the consumption of foods with a low glycemic index. This is because they are absorbed more slowly and cause a gradual rise in blood sugar levels rather than a large rise. The good news, and quite the opposite of what has been believed for years, is that bananas score low to medium on the GI scale: they can range from 42-62, depending on maturity.
Most important: The ripeness of the bananas and the portions
In the case of the addition of bananas in the diabetic diet, there are two main factors to consider: the ripeness of the bananas and the portions that are consumed. Green (immature) bananas contain resistant starch, which is why the amount of carbohydrates provided by a banana may vary according to its maturity.
Experts recommend the consumption of green or unripe bananas for those with prediabetes or diabetes and the reason is simple: they contain less sugar and more resistant starch. Resistant starches are long chains of glucose (starch) that are “resistant” to digestion in the upper part of the digestive system. This means that They work in a similar way to fiber and will not cause a spike in blood sugar levels.
Another of its great contributions to improve the quality of life in diabetics is that bananas are associated with great virtues to feed friendly bacteria in the intestine. Therefore, they improve the quality of the microbiota, thereby strengthens the immune system, improves metabolic health, and improves blood sugar control. In fact, there are studies that prove it, the first one was carried out in 2015 and was based on the control of blood sugar in women with type 2 diabetes found. Over an 8-week period, those who took resistant starch supplements had better blood sugar control compared to those who did not take supplements. Other studies have indicated that resistant starch may have beneficial effects for people with type 2 diabetes, such as improving insulin sensitivity and reducing inflammation.
Therefore, the effect of a banana on blood sugar depends on its ripeness. Yellow or ripe bananas contain less resistant starch than green bananas, as well as more sugar, which is absorbed more quickly than starch. This means that fully ripe bananas have a higher GI and will cause blood sugar to spike more faster than unripe green bananas.
As we mentioned earlier, ripeness is not the only factor that goes into determining the amount of sugar in a banana. Size also matters, therefore: the bigger the banana, the more carbs you get. This means that a larger banana will have a greater effect on blood sugar, this effect related to serving size is called the glycemic load.
Glycemic load is calculated by multiplying the GI of a food by the amount of carbohydrates in a serving and then dividing that number by 100. A score of less than 10 is considered low, 11-19 is medium, and 20 or more is high. Bananas usually vary in size, although their weight normally ranges between approximately 18.5 and 35 grams. For more context: If a banana is fully ripe (with a GI of 62), then its glycemic load could range from 11 for a very small banana to 22 for a very large banana.
By way of conclusion, we can say that bananas are a safe fruit for diabetics. Despite naturally containing starches and sugar, they are associated with great benefits in blood glucose control thanks to their fiber content. Plus, they’re filling, nutritious, versatile, and delicious. Do not hesitate to integrate them into your diet, just remember: to make sure that the blood sugar level does not rise too much, it is important to know the size of the banana and avoid mixing it with other foods rich in carbohydrates.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.