Bananas Are Great for Gut Health, Try 7 Ways to Eat Them (Besides Banana Bread)

Caramelize bananas and add them to oatmeal or low-sugar pancakes.
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Conveniently portable, delicious and nutritious, bananas are one of nature's most perfect snacks. While they do a body good in so many different ways, bananas can be especially beneficial for gut health.

Bananas are a "gift of nature," dietitian Suzie Finkel, RD, founder of Well Digested, tells LIVESTRONG.com. Beyond their convenient carrying case (the peel, of course), they're inexpensive and pack an excellent nutrient punch with potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, magnesium, copper and fiber.

Green or yellow, bananas help us maintain electrolyte balance. "They offer sizeable doses of potassium and magnesium — two essential macrominerals — which many Americans do not get enough of in their daily diet. Potassium is vital for fluid balance and muscle contraction among many other vital functions, while magnesium is needed for bone health and neuromuscular transmission," Finkel says.

"They're also an excellent whole-food source of carbohydrates, which is our body's primary source of energy," Finkel tells us. The popular fruit is especially great for those managing hypertension and for athletes who need to replenish electrolytes post-exercise, Finkel says.

The Benefits of Bananas for Gut Health

As for the gut benefits, you'll want to pay close attention to the color of your banana — especially when your stomach is being finicky. The nutrition of a standard yellow banana (formally known as a Cavendish) changes as it ripens and has different benefits depending on its shade.

Unripe Bananas

Bananas that are green or just about to turn yellow are higher in pectin and starch, which help nourish the gut microbes in the large intestine, Finkel says.

"Unripe bananas can be very helpful for bouts of diarrhea, as they help to absorb water and contribute to larger, firmer stool, and also cause slower increases in blood sugar levels."

Ripe Bananas

As bananas yellow and eventually form brown spots, much of the starch is converted to sugars, which have a "naturally mild laxative effect," Finkel says, adding that these riper fruits can help combat acute constipation.

"Folks with a FODMAP sensitivity, particularly those with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) with diarrhea are recommended to eat ripe bananas in smaller quantities (about 1/3 of a banana at a time) to avoid symptoms, though tolerance is different for everyone," Finkel says.

7 Ways to Use Bananas for Better Gut Health

There are countless ways to eat bananas — they're an incredibly versatile fruit that benefits breakfasts, desserts and even savory dishes. While ripe bananas famously make for decadent banana bread, there are so many other wonderful ways to include the fruit into your meals.

1. Make Some Nice Cream

When blitzed in a blender, frozen bananas transform into this creamy, dreamy texture that's similar to ice cream. You can make your sweet dairy-free ice cream by using non-dairy milk alternatives, and because bananas are pretty neutral in taste, you can add just about any kind of flavor you'd like.

When you have extra, overripe bananas in your fruit bowl, peel and then store them in your freezer: This way, when you're in the mood for a sweet, icy treat, all you'll need to do is to decide what combinations you want to blend together. Consider a few of our favorites below.

Recipes to Try

2. Make Banana Pancakes

Pretend like it's the weekend or make pancakes a new Sunday tradition. The fruit's consistency is ideal for flapjacks and lets you skip the stuff you don't want, whether that's flour, eggs or something else.

Recipes to Try

3. Sip On a Banana Smoothie

Bananas are so often used for the base of smoothie blends because of their creaminess. We highly recommend freezing your bananas, as they'll make your smoothies even creamier.

Recipes to Try

4. Pair Bananas and Oats

Together, bananas and oats are a true power couple: The pair offers filling fiber and will keep you full until your next meal. Plus, there are so many ways to combine them.

Recipes to Try

5. Combine With Nut Butter

There's something so classic about peanut butter and banana on toast, but there are so many other ways to enjoy bananas with a nut spread to reap the satiating protein, carb and healthy fat combo.

Recipes to Try

6. Caramelize Them

If you've never tasted a grilled banana, prepare for something sensationally sweet. Grilling the fruit brings about a caramelized effect that you certainly won't regret. Try grilled fruit kebabs or one of the recipes below.

Recipes to Try

7. Consider Chocolate

Need we say more?

Recipes to Try

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