It is a common myth in diabetes management that people need to avoid bananas in order to control their blood sugars. The concern with bananas is that they are higher in sugar and therefore are a bad choice. While it is true bananas have a greater amount of sugar compared some fruit options AND might not be the highest in fiber, they do not need to be avoided.
The biggest issue with bananas often comes with their size. Many of the bananas on the market are large to very large in size. Because of this, you do end up getting a greater amount of sugar and carbohydrates overall when you eat a whole one. An easy solution to this is to choose smaller sized bananas or only take 1/2 of a banana as part of your meal or snack.
The second issue is their lower fiber content. Bananas do have some fiber, but it pales in comparison to some other fruits where you can eat the skins or seeds. Fiber is important because it helps to slow down sugars from entering the blood stream too quickly.
-1 large 8" banana will have about 17g of sugar and 3.5g of fiber
-1 cup raspberries will have about 7g of sugar and 3g fiber
-1 large orange has 17g sugar and 4.4g fiber
So as you can see, you could eat up to 2 cups of raspberries before you would get close to the same amount of sugar as in the banana and you would also be getting more fiber which helps control how quickly your sugars will rise. As for the orange, while it has a similar amount of sugar, it also has more of that sugar controlling fiber we want.
Again, this does not mean bananas can't be part of your healthy diet.
Here are a couple of tips to limit the impact bananas will have while still allowing you to enjoy them.
1) Choose smaller bananas or only have 1/2 at one time.
2) Have the banana as part of a meal. The fiber, fat and protein in the meal can help slow down the sugars in the banana from raising your blood sugar too quickly.
3) Have a little fat or protein with the banana if you are having it as part of a snack. Fats and protein examples might include peanut butter, nuts, seeds, lower fat cheese or a boiled egg.
The most important thing to remember is that not everyone will respond to the same food the same way you do. If you are concerned with how bananas might be impacting your sugars, try testing your sugars before you have it and two hours later and see how much of an increase you get. Smaller increases mean you are managing the sugar from the banana better.
Happy eating and happy Friday!