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.

Aimee McNewAimee McNew

Aimee McNew, MNT, CNTP, is a certified nutritionist who specializes in women’s health, thyroid disorders, autoimmunity, and fertility. She is the author of The Everything Guide to Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: A Healing Plan for Managing Symptoms Naturally (Simon & Schuster, 2016). Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.