The health benefits of the banana are numerous. They are high in potassium, which helps us maintain normal blood pressure, and fiber, which helps prevent heart disease. Unripe bananas are green. They are safe to eat, and have most of the health benefits of the riper yellow banana. However, they also have some drawbacks that might make the yellow banana a better choice.
The Banana Ripening Process
Bananas are picked when they are only 75 percent ripe, according to the website Healthy New Age. This is to prevent them from splitting open during shipping. As a banana ripens, the protopectin contained within it is converted into soluble pectin, an easily digestible fiber. The banana also gives off ethylene gas. This gas is such a powerful component of the ripening process that it can ripen other produce, such as tomatoes, if they are placed in a sealed container with the banana. Green bananas, which are high in protopectin, are more difficult for the body to digest than yellow ones.
Health Benefits of Green Bananas
Green bananas are higher in starch than yellow bananas. Yellow bananas, by contrast, are higher in natural sugars such as sucrose, glucose and fructose. This is because the ripening process converts the banana's starch into sugar. According to the website Hungry Chef Diets, the type of starch contained in green bananas is resistant starch, which makes you feel fuller and helps you burn fat more quickly. This tough fiber is not digested in the small intestine, but is passed on to the large bowel.
Drawbacks of Green Bananas
The bitter taste and waxy texture of an unripe banana are its most obvious drawbacks. Even if you manage to choke down a green banana, it contains proteins that limit your body's ability to digest complex carbohydrates, according to Healthy New Age. These proteins inhibit your amylase enzyme, a substance in your saliva that helps you convert starch into a sugar called maltose. If you had no amylase enzyme at all, you would only be able to metabolize sugar from fruit and protein from meat.
Additional Effects of Green Bananas
Green bananas also contain short chain fatty acids, according to the website Food Health Nutrition. The cells that line your intestines love to eat these acids, and keeping these cells healthy means that your body will be able to absorb nutrients such as calcium more easily. A study published in Digestive Diseases and Sciences showed that babies with diarrhea who consumed green bananas in addition to rice were soon able to absorb more nutrients, resulting in a decreased stool size.