As they ripen, green bananas turn into yellow which are the ones usually eaten by all. Most of us are unaware that the green- unripe and starchy banana provides more health benefits than the yellow- ripe and sweeter one.
The texture of green bananas is similar to that of root vegetables like potato or yam and hence can be used easily to replace these. Green banana is used instead of potatoes in recipes such as koftas, kebabs, pakoras, by individuals belonging to the Jain community who avoid root vegetables. Raw bananas can be steamed, boiled, stir-fried, batter-fried, deep-fried, mashed and curried, and also be used as a stuffing, in salads or to make traditional dips.
Better nutrient absorption: The starch present in green bananas is mostly resistant starch.As the name suggests, resistant starch is resistant to digestion in the stomach and therefore constitutes dietary fiber. This type of starch undergoes fermentation directly in the intestine to release the short chain fatty acids. Short chain fatty acids are the source of energy for friendly bacteria in the intestine which in turn promote a healthy gut environment. Happy gut bacteria means better absorption of nutrients especially those that require acidic medium for absorption such as calcium, iron, magnesium, etc.
Satiety and reduced calorie intake: Also, since the resistant starch is not digested in the stomach, it provides a feeling of fullness / satiety reducing the total calorie consumption at a meal. In addition to the resistant starch which is insoluble fiber source, green bananas also contain soluble fiber in the form of pectin. Pectin also helps to delay gastric emptying and provides satiety thereby having a beneficial effect on regulation of food intake and weight gain.
Regulation of blood sugar: Delay in gastric emptying resulting from the high fiber content of green bananas prevents increase in blood sugar levels after a meal. This can be beneficial for obese as well as diabetic individuals. Foods high in resistant starch also increase insulin sensitivity, which can help people with type 2 diabetes better control their blood sugars.
Fat burning effect: Butyrate inhibits absorption of carbohydrates and favours use of fat as a fuel for energy rather than carbohydrates. This butyrate which is a short chain fatty acid produced by fermentation of resistant bacteria is obtained through consumption of green bananas
As the fruit ripens, the starch structure and composition undergoes a change. So the banana loses its resistant starch and pectin content as it ripens leading to lesser health benefits from consuming the conventional yellow bananas. However, we encourage use of green bananas in addition to yellow ones as both do contain potassium, folic acid and vitamin B6.
Dr Pooja Chhawcharia is the Senior Nutritionist at eKincare with over 7 years of experience in Nutrition education, diet counseling and research. She is a Registered Dietician with the Indian Dietetic Association and Certified Diabetes Educator recognized by the International Diabetes federation . She is also interested in ancillary sciences such as Yoga and Naturopathy.