Published in Medical Daily by
Many of us are familiar with the traditional healthy fruit, yellow bananas. We know bananas as a great source of potassium and are accompanied by their signature sweet taste, but they have a cousin that tastes even sweeter. Red bananas have a unique flavor, similar to yellow, but mixed with the taste of raspberries. They also provide more health benefits than the widely recognized, traditional banana.
Tory Tedrow, a registered dietitian and a certified nutrition support clinician for SugarChecked, says red bananas are sweeter tasting because they’re higher in sugar and calories.
“A red banana will have about 30 more calories and 8 grams of sugar more than a yellow one of the same size,” he told Medical Daily .
Ripe red bananas do not grow in the U.S., with many imported from producers in East Africa, Asia, South America and the United Arab Emirates. Yellow bananas account for 95 percent of the banana varieties sold, making red bananas one of the most mysterious fruits. Although they’re rare, red bananas possess different nutritional values than yellow bananas when it comes to vitamin C and potassium.
The raspberry-banana flavored fruit offers a number of health benefits that make them a great addition to any fruit bowl.
Red bananas are rich in vitamin C, which is an important vitamin for immune health. Vitamin C stimulates the production of lymphocytes, white blood cells that attack invading pathogens like bacteria, destroy infected or cancer cells, regulate immune response, and make antibodies. As an antioxidant, the vitamin protects white blood cells from the chemicals they release to kill pathogens. A 99-gram red bananas has 15 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.
According to Tedrow, a vitamin C deficiency causes the body to be more susceptible to illness. He warns, “most people are not deficient in vitamin C, and taking excessive will not prevent illness.”
Aids Heart Health
Red bananas, just like yellow, are rich in potassium. One medium banana contains 400 milligrams, which equates to 11 percent of the daily value for potassium. The American Heart Association recommends including more potassium-rich foods to our diet to help lower blood pressure levels.
This counteracts the negative effects of sodium, and lowers high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.
“High sodium intake coupled with low potassium intake can lead to high blood pressure, which strains the heart,” said Tedrow.
However, high-potassium foods are not safe for everyone, especially for those who have a history of kidney disease. It’s best to talk with a doctor about daily potassium needs before increasing intake.
Improves Eye & Skin Health
Red bananas are a good source of beta-carotene, a red-orange pigment found in the fruit. The human body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, which is essential for healthy skin and mucous membranes, the immune system, and good eye health and vision. The pigment is not an essential nutrient, but rather it facilitates the production of vitamin A.
The fruit is so rich in fiber, it can alleviate digestive problems, like constipation.
“Fiber helps bulk up the stool and keeps waste moving through the digestive tract,” said Tedrow.
It’s also a prebiotic, which is the food probiotics feed off of. Probiotics help promote good digestion and gut health, says Tedrow, as red bananas provide fuel for these microorganisms. Red bananas lead to better bowel movements, which lead to better digestive health.
Helps With Smoke Cessation
Red bananas can help quitting smoking become easier because of their potassium and magnesium content. They help combat nicotine withdrawal by fighting off the side effects, and reducing nicotine cravings. Moreover, people find they crave sweet foods when they quit smoking.
“Bananas are a healthier, yet still sweet, alternative to cakes and cookies,” said Tedrow.