The Carb Concern
If you have diabetes, you must pay close attention to the amount and type of carbohydrates you eat. Using the hormone insulin, carbs are broken down by your body and converted to glucose, which gives you energy and fuels your cells for action. Diabetics, however, have trouble with insulin and can have unusually high levels of glucose circulating throughout the body. Nearly all fruits contain high amounts of carbs, so eating too much can dump more glucose than your body can handle. Still, carbs are a nutrient you can’t live without. You just need to properly manage them with your condition.
Benefits of Bananas
Americans consume more bananas than any other fruit, according the USDA. The health benefits are plenty. Bananas are low in calories, but high in fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C and potassium. The fiber keeps you full and satisfied. Vitamin B6 is a mood enhancer. Vitamin C boosts your immune system, and potassium controls your blood pressure.
Bananas in Diabetic DietsBananas are safe for diabetics.
However, how ripe the banana is makes a difference. Researchers reporting in the October 1992 issue of “Diabetic Medicine” found that participants in a study who ate overripe bananas had a fairly high glycemic response, meaning blood sugar levels were raised, demanding the use of more insulin. Those who ate bananas that had not fully ripened had a lower glycemic response. By contrast, neither kind of banana produced a blood sugar response as high as plain white bread. The researchers said up to 90 percent of the carbs in an underripe banana come from starch, but when it ripens the carbs are mostly free sugars. They advise, therefore, that bananas, especially underripe ones, are “an acceptable alternative as between-meal snacks for Type 2 diabetic subjects.”
Caution & Tips
Avoid eating bananas that are part of desserts, like sundaes or those that have been prepared with sugary syrups. These desserts bring excess carbs, calories and fat. You can enjoy fresh, frozen, canned and dried bananas. The variety will help broaden your diet and leave you feeling less restricted.