Eating the recommended 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit each day helps you get the nutrients you need to stay healthy and may also lower your risk for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If you're on a low-carb diet, or looking to increase your carbohydrate intake to fuel athletic performance, knowing how many carbs are in common fruits such as bananas and oranges can help you know how many of them to eat.
Bananas contain more carbohydrates than oranges. A small banana has 23.1 grams of carbohydrates, but a small orange has just 11.3 grams. Whether you're counting carbohydrates because of diabetes or because of a low-carb diet, you'll be able to fit more of other carbohydrate-containing foods, such as other fruits, vegetables and whole grains, into your daily diet without going over your recommended carbohydrate intake if you choose an orange instead of a banana. For fueling sports performance, bananas are a good bet for an easily digestible source of carbohydrate.
Type of Carbohydrates
The carbohydrates in an orange consist of just sugars and fiber, while bananas also contain starch. A small orange has about 9 grams of sugar and 2.3 grams of fiber, and a small banana has about 12.4 grams of sugar, 2.6 grams of fiber and 5.4 grams of starch. Sugar is digested more quickly than starch, but fiber slows the emptying of the stomach and the release of carbohydrates into the bloodstream.
Effect on Blood Sugar
Bananas are likely to have a greater effect on your blood sugar levels than oranges. Not only do they have more carbohydrates, but they also have a higher glycemic index and glycemic load. Glycemic index and glycemic load are two measures that help predict the potential effect of a food on blood sugar levels. While the glycemic index of bananas is still considered low, it falls into the moderate range for glycemic load, which takes into account both the glycemic index and the normal serving size of a food. Oranges are low on both of these scales, meaning they are less likely to cause a large increase in your blood sugar levels.
Oranges may be lower in carbohydrates, but bananas are a better source of vitamins and minerals. A small banana provides 10 percent of the daily value for fiber and potassium, 15 percent of the DV for vitamin C, 19 percent of the DV for vitamin B-6 and 14 percent of the DV for manganese. Each small orange contains 85 percent of the DV for vitamin C, but just 9 percent of the DV for fiber and even smaller amounts of the other essential micronutrients.
- MedlinePlus: Carbohydrates
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Bananas, Raw
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Oranges, Raw, All Commercial Varieties
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: International Table of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values: 2002
- Clinical Diabetes: The 3 R's of Glycemic Index: Recommendations, Research, and the Real World
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: Why Is It Important to Eat Fruit?
- Health-Alicious-Ness.com: Nutrition Facts Comparison Tool