Ever wondered why a low FODMAP recipe calls for a slightly unripe banana instead of a standard ripe banana? Are bananas low FODMAP? Well, we have your answer right here…
The common banana, or the technical term: Cavendish banana, are the large long bananas that are green when they are unripe. Then transition to yellow as they ripen, and can be found in most supermarkets.
The benefits of bananas
Nutritionally speaking, bananas make an easy snack and are great to add to your breakfast.
As they contain several essential nutrients such as potassium, vitamin B6 and antioxidants. Additionally, these unique moon-shaped fruits, provide benefits for digestion, heart health and weight loss.
According to Monash University, a common medium-sized banana is classified as low FODMAP when unripe in comparison to the exact same size banana, when ripe, is classified as high FODMAP.
In order for a ripe banana to be classified as a low FODMAP, only a measly amount of about ⅓ of a medium banana can be consumed.
This is why you need to pay close attention to the serving size and how ripe the banana is, that you’re eating.
Why is there a change in the FODMAP content of green vs ripe bananas?
The short answer – bananas are trying to protect themselves from environmental factors.
In general, plants naturally accumulate fructans in response to environmental stressors, such as drought and cold temperatures. These fructans which act as a reserve carbohydrate, provide plant cells with greater structural integrity. This allows them to be hardier, and resistant to damage from environmental changes and disease.
In bananas specifically. Studies have found that the fructan content increases when a banana is stored and ripened in cold temperatures. In today’s markets, cold storage and ripening are commonly practised by most supermarkets. As it helps to prevent spoilage, whilst still allowing for ripening. On top of this, a lot of farmers selectively breed crops that contain a higher fructan content, as they tend to be more resilient to pests and diseases.
These simple changes in the way we grow and store our bananas can change the FODMAP level. Where the longer a banana spends ripening in cold storage, the higher its fructan content. These high levels of fructans in ripe bananas can however trigger unpleasant symptoms for some people who suffer from IBS.
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Reviewed by the healthylife Advisory Board March 2022