Are Bananas Paleo?

are-bananas-paleo
Bananas may be one of the most popular—and most inexpensive—fruits available. How do they fit into a Paleo diet?

Nutritional Value of Bananas

Serving size: 1 medium banana (7-8 inches) (118gm)

  • Calories: 105
  • Total Fat: 0 g
  • Saturated fat: 0 g
  • Monounsaturated fat: < 1 g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: < 1 g
  • Trans fat: 0 g
  • Lauric acid: 0 g
  • Carbohydrate: 27 g
  • Sugar: 14 g
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Sodium: 1 mg
  • Fiber: 3 g

Health Benefits of Bananas

Bananas are widely accessible and inexpensive, but they also pack a powerful health punch. Most know that they are rich in potassium, although they are not the most potassium-rich food. A medium-sized banana contains 12% of the recommended daily value of potassium, as well as other great nutrients like fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese, biotin, and copper.

Bananas are also beneficial in the following ways:

  • They replenish electrolytes, especially useful for athletes or distance runners
  • They help to regulate blood pressure and reduce high sodium levels
  • They’re an excellent source of prebiotics, necessary to help cultivate good probiotic bacteria in the gut
  • They’re a great source of resistant starch, which can help the body lose weight because it slows digestion and promotes a feeling of fullness
  • They can help to heal stomach ulcers

Where To Buy Bananas and Seasonality of Bananas

Bananas are picked while they are still green and then transported to grocery stores. They are available at virtually all grocery stores in either organic or non-organic varieties. Bananas are not on the “Dirty Dozen” list, so are safe to buy non-organic.

Since bananas are picked while they are green, they can often be found in the grocery stores before they have fully ripened. It is completely acceptable to purchase them green or yellow, depending on when you intend to use them. They should feel firm and be free from bruises, which leave dark spots on the fruit.

Bananas last longest when they are left to ripen at room temperature, and if they are refrigerated while green, will not fully ripen. For the highest antioxidant benefit, eat bananas when they are fully ripened.

Bananas can be frozen with peel on or off and will keep for two to three months.

Should I Eat Bananas? Are Bananas Paleo?

Depending on who you ask in the Paleo community, bananas either are or are not Paleo. Some don’t consider them Paleo because of their high starch content, while others do because they are a fruit and are unprocessed.

It comes down to why you are Paleo. If you’re Paleo because you’re a Crossfitter or you’re restoring your gut health, bananas are an excellent part of your diet. Athletes can benefit from several bananas daily, especially long distance runners as bananas have been found to be as effective at replacing electrolytes as non-Paleo sports drinks. Bananas are great for healing gut health because they are rich in fructoologosaccharides (FOS) that help to grow the good kind of bacteria within the gut.

If you’re eating Paleo, however, with the sole intent to lose weight, starchier fruits like bananas are best eaten in moderation—perhaps a few times a week.

There is also evidence that if you have a latex allergy, you should not eat bananas because there is a strong possibility for a cross-reaction.

About Aimee McNew

Aimee McNew, MNT is a certified nutritionist who practices functional and integrative nutrition therapy. She specializes in Paleo, autoimmunity, digestion, fertility, and women's health. View all posts by Aimee McNew →

4 Comments

  1. Gail bennett

    I read that sweet potato is not paleo and then see a recipe for a paleo breakfast
    That includes sweet potato very confusing
    I am attempting to go paleo for the health of my daughter who has multiple sclerosis
    And if losing weight is a side affect well so be it but it is hard to choose which way to go
    I was advised to look at the dr terry wahls paleo system
    Is this the same as a true paleo diet
    Thanking you in advance
    Gail Bennett

    • Kinsey Jackson

      Hi Gail!
      The Wahls Protocol differs from a typical Paleo diet. It is more similar to the “Autoimmune Protocol” (AIP) which is Paleo minus additional foods which are known to trigger autoimmunity, such as nuts, seeds, eggs, nightshades, etc. This series of articles (especially parts 2 & 3) should answer most questions about how autoimmune diseases are related to leaky gut, and why diet is so effective at reversing symptoms:

      The Autoimmune Epidemic, Part 1
      The Autoimmune Epidemic, Part 2 – Leaky Gut
      The Autoimmune Epidemic, Part 3 – AIP

      Sweet potatoes are technically Paleo, and the reason you hear otherwise is due to their high carbohydrate content (weight loss issues) rather than being related to autoimmune disease. I have not heard of a person’s autoimmunity being triggered by sweet potatoes (regular potatoes are a different story, as they are in the nightshade family). I will also say that the sooner a dietary intervention takes place, the more likely the autoimmunity will be able to reach full remission, so time is of the essence! Also, it’s easier for many people to start with a Paleo diet and then transition onto the AIP, as the AIP is much more restrictive than Paleo. I had to follow the AIP for almost a year to heal my leaky gut and put my RA and Lupus into remission. Some people need to follow it for life, or for shorter periods. I never followed the Wahl’s protocol, but have heard from many that it is also very effective for treating autoimmune diseases. It’s truly a trial and error process, but it’s very helpful to monitor labwork throughout the process. I wish you all the best of luck…and do keep the faith!

      In good health,
      Kinsey Jackson, LMP, MS, CNS®

  2. Lisa

    I am pre diabetic (6.1) and some arterial plac (20%) but I’m not heavy and am actually healthy- even tho it doesn’t sound like it – I’ve been advised to eat paleo, but I don’t want to lose any weight, but have already lost 8lbs. Any suggestions? And what about the sugar in the fruit?

    • Aimee McNew

      Hi Lisa,

      You can definitely eat a Paleo diet without losing weight. Focus on eating good quality fats and meats, as well as plenty of starchy vegetables, fruits, and starchy Paleo flours like cassava. It’s possible the 8 lbs you’ve lost has been more a reduction of inflammation and water weight, but it’s important to make sure that you’re eating enough food each day to maintain your current weight. If you’re concerned, you can also utilize a muscle building fitness program to help build muscle and maintain weight. The only way to really know if you’re eating enough to maintain your current weight would be to work with a nutritionist who could help tailor a diet specifically to your needs. Or you could follow a Paleo meal plan and track your caloric intake for a few days to see if you’re getting enough. While Paleo doesn’t advocate calorie counting, in your case, it could be helpful to measure how much you’re taking in. Hopefully that helps!

      Aimee McNew, MNT, Certified Nutritionist
      aimee@paleoplan.com

Leave a Comment

*/