The following calorie counts are for raw bananas without the peel and are only approximations since no two bananas are exactly alike. Calories will vary with cooked or fried bananas, but there is no caloric difference between organically-grown bananas and commercially-grown bananas.
- Extra Small = less than 6” (81 g) contains 75 calories
- Small = 6” to 7” (100 g) contains 90 calories
- Medium = 7”to 8” (113 g) contains 105 calories
- Large = 8” to 9” (141 g) contains 120 calories
- Extra Large = over 9” ( over 182 g) contains 135 calories
- Large, canned, = 121 calories
For dehydrated bananas, or “banana chips”, the drying process increases the sugar concentration by decreasing the water content, but the calories remain the same. However, some manufacturers add sugar or brush them with honey, which increases the calories per ounce. Solution? Make your own banana chips in a home dehydrator or your oven.
NOTE: The data above was from the USDA Nutritional Database, but HOW were those bananas measured?
For accurate calorie counting, you should weigh your banana without the peel, and weigh your peel separately if you choose to eat it.
But most people do not always have scales handy, so how exactly should you measure a banana? Depending on where you measure it, the results could be very different!
Here you will see the problem when the same banana is measured in several different ways:
- Tip-to-tip (bypassing the curve) = 5.75″ = “extra small’” = 72 calories
- Along the smallest curve = 6.25″ = “small” = 90 calories
- Through the middle of the curve (i.e. along the side) = 7″ = “medium” = 105 calories
- Along the longest curve = 8″ = “large” = 121 calories
However, the weight of this particular banana without the peel was 98 g for a total of 88 calories. This comes closest to the inside measurement of the banana curve for a “small” banana that had 90 calories. Bottom line: weigh your banana.
- Bananas contain the vitamins A and B, as well as dietary fiber, magnesium, iron, calcium, niacin, riboflavin and potassium.
- The sugar content is highest when the peel is completely black. This indicates that the starches have all been converted to three types of sugars: sucrose, fructose and glucose. However the banana is likely mushy and only useful for cooking with at that point.
- Bananas have a natural antacid effect and can help to alleviate heartburn.
- Bananas can help settle the stomach and bring relief to people with hangovers and pregnant women who suffer from morning sickness.
- Bananas are high in iron which helps with the production of hemoglobin and alleviates symptoms of anemia.
- The fiber in bananas creates an internal lubricant that can help restore normal bowel action without resorting to laxatives. One of these is a small amount of hemicellulose which is an indigestible fiber.
- Bananas contain a small amount of pectin (a fiber) that prevents the absorption of fat and that may help in lowering cholesterol levels. However, foods containing pectin should not be eaten at the same time as foods, such as fish and eggs, that contain essential fatty acids that the body needs.
- Green bananas are used in the treatment of hemorrhoids and diarrhea. Green bananas are unpleasant to eat and contain proteins that limit the digestion of complex carbohydrates because they inhibit the amylase enzyme, so eat them sparingly for these issues.
- Bananas are high in the B vitamins, which also have a calming effect.. They contain B6, B12 and along with magnesium and potassium together can help alleviate symptoms associated with nicotine withdrawal. Vitamin B6 regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.
- Bananas contain tryptophan (an amino acid) which adds to their calming effect. This is converted to serotonin which is a brain inhibiting neurotransmitter involved in mood enhancement. Tryptophan also aids in sleep issues. and can help reduce feelings associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
- Bananas are high in potassium . This helps regulate heartbeat and is useful for alleviating stress that raises our metabolic rate which in turn uses our potassium reserves. Bananas are often used to help replenish potassium that is lost during bouts of vomiting, diarrhea, heat exhaustion, and dehydration. Potassium also helps to repair muscle tissues and alleviates soreness after fitness workouts.
- Research has identified that the potassium in bananas can help brain power. In a school situation, 200 students ate bananas at breakfast, morning break, and at lunch which helped them stay alert through their tests and proved to help in test scores.
- The banana is so low in sodium that USDA allows the banana industry to make official claims that bananas can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke, and that eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%.
The Incredible, Edible Banana Peel
If the other primates can eat them, why can’t we? Truth is, we can! Banana peels are edible and can be eaten raw, although they have a rather rope-like texture and an unpleasant taste. Waiting for the fruit to ripen makes the skin much thinner, a little sweeter and easier to chew. Some people boil the peel for 10 minutes or so before eating it; or putting it through a juicer; or blending it with other fruits.
Banana peels are appreciated more in India and Southeast Asia, where they are cooked with the banana flesh or fried on their own, but they are gaining favor in the United States as well for their health benefits. It is essential to wash commercially grown banana peels prior to eating to remove any pesticide residue that is not present in organically grown bananas.
In general, fruit skins contain additional nutrients that complements what’s underneath. Banana peels are not nearly as sweet as the banana flesh itself, but they are rich in some nutrients, especially potassium, vitamin A, C and a lot more soluble and insoluble fiber than the banana.
- Banana peels contain tryptophan. Banana peel extract can ease depression due to increasing serotonin (a neurotransmitter) in the brain that is responsible for balancing mood and emotions.
- Eating two banana skins a day for three days can increase blood serotonin levels by 16 percent.
- Banana peels contain lutein, an antioxidant that protects the eyes and reduces the risks of cataracts and macular degeneration.
Banana peels contain esterified fatty acids, which can be used as a skin lotion. Natives rub banana peels on their skin to stop itching, reduce inflammation, remove warts, smooth out wrinkles, get rid of acne, control psoriasis, and improve skin tone and texture. Modern research does support the claim that banana peels used on the red, scaly patches of psoriasis does provide a natural relief. Exorex lotion is a patented commercially sold lotion created from isolating the esterified fatty acids.
So, how many calories in a banana peel? In a large banana that weighs 223 grams that would be about 77 calories for approximately 80 grams of banana peel.
What the Heck is a Plantain?
Plantains have hit the produce department in recent years and these have confused the public somewhat because they look like huge unripe bananas, but they certainly don’t act like them.
Plantains actually belong to the same species as the banana, Musa X paradisiaca, but they are often larger with a thicker green peel or a skin that is turning black. Unlike a banana, the black skin is simply a nicely ripe plantain, not a rotten banana.
A plantain is usually treated as a vegetable and will feel very hard to the touch. They remain rather firm, even when cooked, which is partly due to the low moisture content They cannot be eaten raw because the high starch, low sugar, and firm texture makes them rather unpalatable. Plantains need to be cooked before they are eaten. When they are not yet ripe, they usually have a bland flavor, but they become sweeter as they ripen, though only slightly.
An average 7-ounce plantain is about the size of a medium banana and contains around 120 calories with the larger ones coming in at 220 calories. An average plantain contains 31 g of carbohydrates. Plantains are high in healthy, heart-protective fiber, but have only 1 g of protein. They are a good source of calcium, potassium and vitamin B6, dietary fiber, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. They also contain chromium which can help regulate blood sugar levels and may have positive effects on blood pressure. Finding chromium in a fruit is a considered to be unusual.
To eat them, you can boil and mash them like potatoes, steam them, or slice them lengthwise and roast them in the oven. If you choose to mash them, try adding garlic, onion and other spices. To remove any lingering bitter taste from the peel, soak plantains in salt water about 10 minutes before cooking.
Some Unusual Properties of Bananas:
- Bananas and plantains do not grow on trees. They come from the largest flowering herbaceous plant that is not classified as a tree.
- Ripening bananas produce a gas called ethylene which brightens the color while they ripen.. Most fruits give off this gas for the same purpose, but bananas have such an exceptionally high level that they can be used to assist other fruits to ripen quickly if they are nearby. A ripening banana in a sealed container with green tomatoes will help them ripen quite quickly, and high levels of ethylene is what turns oranges orange.
- The unique smell of a banana is caused by amyl acetate.
- Putting a banana in the fridge will slow its usually quick ripening by slowing down the enzyme actions and releasing polyphenoloxide. This will darken the skin, but the fruit inside will be fine.
- There are several foods that can create a false positive when testing for carcinod tumor markers from the lungs, intestines and the endocrine system. These tumors secrete serotonin, which is passed into the urine, so the tumor test looks for serotonin. However, bananas will create a raised serotonin level in the urine, which may be interpreted as a false positive for tumors, so do not eat bananas for at least three days before one of these tests. Other foods that have this effect are walnuts, plums, tomatoes, eggplant, avocado and pineapple.
- Bananas can also interfere with the effectiveness of some drugs; such as antidepressants or antihypertensives known as MAO inhibitors (monoamine oxidase). MAO inhibitors work by inhibiting the action of Tyramine, an enzyme that constricts blood vessels and raises blood pressure. If you are taking an MAO inhibitor, eating a banana can result in raised blood pressure and possibly a hypertensive crisis.