You should know that if your stomach feels a bit odd after eating a banana, bloating isn't uncommon. Bananas contain different types of carbohydrates that can cause gastrointestinal problems.
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Fortunately, cutting down your serving size and eating specific types of bananas can usually help prevent a bloated stomach.
Banana Nutrition Facts
According to the USDA, the average medium-sized banana (118 grams) has 105 calories. Bananas are mainly carbs, containing about 27 grams of carbohydrates. Just 3.1 grams come from fiber, while 14.4 grams come from sugar. Bananas also contain small amounts of fat (0.4 grams) and protein (1.3 grams).
In every medium-sized banana, you'll find:
- 9 percent of the daily value (DV) for potassium
- 8 percent of the DV for magnesium
- 10 percent of the DV for copper
- 14 percent of the DV for manganese
- 11 percent of the DV for vitamin C
- 7 percent of the DV for riboflavin (vitamin B2)
- 5 percent of the DV for niacin (vitamin B3)
- 8 percent of the DV for vitamin B5
- 25 percent of the DV for vitamin B6
- 6 percent of the DV for folate (vitamin B9)
Given their range of beneficial nutrients, bananas are typically considered healthy foods. However, bananas also have other benefits. These fruits contain both fermentable short-chain carbohydrates and fermentable fibers. These types of carbohydrates are prebiotics. This means that eating bananas can alter the types of microbes that colonize your gastrointestinal tract in beneficial ways.
The Worst Foods for Bloating
Many different foods can cause a bloated stomach. Foods that cause bloating and gas can come from almost any food group. For example, a study in Advanced Biomedical Research from April 2016 showed how fatty foods can cause bloating and other gastrointestinal side effects, while a study in the Journal for Nurse Practitioners from May 2016 discussed the potential for carbohydrates to cause bloating, stomach pain and other gut problems.
Given that bananas are primarily carbohydrates, banana bloating is likely caused by this particular macronutrient. Carbohydrates that cause gastrointestinal issues are known as fermentable, short-chain carbohydrates.
These types of carbohydrates come in various forms. You may know of them as FODMAPs, which stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. Many fruits contain fermentable carbohydrates — specifically, polyols and fructose (which is a monosaccharide).
However, bananas typically aren't considered among the worst foods for bloating. In fact, bananas are low in the types of carbohydrates that make you bloat. Fruits that are more likely to cause bloating and other gut problems include apples, pears, watermelon, peaches, plums and nectarines. Fruits like apples, pears and watermelon are high in fructose, while fruits like peaches, plums and nectarines are high in polyols.
So, why might a banana make you bloat? According to Monash University, bananas aren't all the same. The way farmers breed, grow or ripen your bananas can affect the amount of fermentable carbohydrates in them. For example, bananas that didn't receive enough water while they were growing may have more fructans than average, as would those that have been exposed to cold temperatures (like your refrigerator).
If you're experiencing bloating after eating bananas, you may need to avoid ripe bananas, or at least avoid ripening the ones you keep at home in your fridge.
Read more: The 10 Worst Foods for Bloating
Fermentable Fibers and Bloating
While it may seem easy to just avoid ripe bananas and choose green, unripe ones instead, both versions have the potential to make you bloat. While green bananas lack large amounts of fructans, they tend to be richer in fermentable fibers.
The fermentable fibers that you'd find in green bananas are known as resistant starches. However, there are other types of fermentable fibers, like pectin, that you might also find in fruits and vegetables.
Fermentable carbohydrates, like FODMAPs, and fermentable fibers aren't the same. Fermentable fibers are long-chain carbohydrates, while FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates. These two types of carbohydrates ferment at different rates. Fiber ferments more slowly than FODMAPs, and typically produce gas at a slower, steadier rate.
Although fermentable fibers are less likely to cause issues like bloating compared to short-chain, fermentable carbohydrates, they can still affect your gut. If you're experiencing bloating after eating green bananas, you may need to talk to your doctor or dietitian to figure out which type of carbohydrate causes the reaction.
Read more: 10 Ways to Beat Belly Bloat
Banana Portions and Bloating
While the fermentable carbohydrates in bananas are typically healthy, they can be bad for you in excess. Essentially, the chances of bananas causing you to have a bloated stomach depend on how much you've decided to eat.
As you can see in your local supermarket, bananas come in a range of different sizes. In general, you'll find that they range from extra small to extra large. In terms of actual weight, this means:
- Extra small bananas are about 81 grams and are typically less than 6 inches long.
- Small bananas are about 101 grams and are typically between 6 and 7 inches long.
- Medium-sized bananas are about 118 grams and are typically between 7 and 8 inches long.
- Large bananas are about 136 grams and are typically between 8 and 9 inches long.
- Extra-large bananas are about 152 grams and are typically 9 inches or longer.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming 2 cups of fruits on a daily basis. A cup of sliced banana is about the equivalent of an extra-large banana, at 150 grams. If bananas have a tendency to make you bloat, you may want to start by making sure you're eating no more than one serving per day and incorporating other healthy fruits into your diet as an alternative.
However, if you're following a diet other than the standard 2,000-calorie diet, serving sizes may be different. For example, certain diets, like the low-FODMAP diet, recommend consuming no more than 1/2 cup of fruit per meal, although Monash University specifically suggests consuming no more than a third of a banana as a serving.
If you're experiencing a bloated stomach and are eating whole bananas, you may need to make your portions smaller and space out your fruit consumption throughout the day.
- University of Wisconsin Health: "The Low FODMAP Diet"
- Health.gov: "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020: Chapter 1. Key Elements of Healthy Eating Patterns"
- MonashFODMAP.com: "More Than Fodmaps: Fermentable Fibres & IBS"
- MonashFODMAP.com: "Update: Bananas Re-Tested!"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Best and Worst Foods for IBS Low-FODMAP diet may control symptoms"
- Journal of Nurse Practitioners: "Addressing the Role of Food in Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptom Management"
- Advanced Biomedical Research: "Dietary Fat Intake and Functional Dyspepsia"
- Nutrients: "Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits"
- MyFoodData: "Nutrition Facts for Bananas"