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Ripe Bananas Fight Cancer, But “Ripe” Isn't What You Think

by Sárka-Jonae Miller
See more articles by Sárka-Jonae Miller

(The Best Years in Life) When I was a kid you couldn't pay me to eat a spotted banana. I wasn't trying to be a diva, I just hated the taste of a spotted, bruised, or otherwise “imperfect” banana. Now that I pay my own bills, I could probably be bribed to eat a banana that is, in my opinion, past its prime. According to research, if you're like me you are eating bananas the wrong way – or at least at the wrong time. Unless you eat with the peel on, and then that's just plain wrong.

When is a banana ripe?

A lot of people will say when a banana turns from green to yellow it's ripe. Unfortunately, they're wrong. Spots indicate a banana is ripe and at its nutritional peak. A ripe banana also peels easily and has no green on it, not even near the stem. Not only are spotted bananas easier to digest, they also contain more antioxidants.

Bananas and health

Ripe and unripe bananas are good sources of potassium, fiber, and vitamins B6 and C. However, the longer you wait to eat a banana, the greater its concentration of antioxidants, according to Japanese researchers.

The researchers also found that ripe bananas make a substance called tumor necrosis factor. TNF fights cells that are cancerous and otherwise abnormal. The riper the banana, or the darker the spots, the better it is to eat for cancer prevention. Generally, ripe bananas are eight times better at boosting your immune system than unripe bananas.


Should you ever eat an unripe banana?

There is one benefit to unripe bananas: a high resistant starch content. Most of the carbs in unripe bananas are starch while most of the carbs turn to sugar in a ripe one. That's why riper bananas taste sweeter.

People who need a low sugar intake, such as type 2 diabetics, might prefer the unripened banana. However, the higher resistant starch content could cause bloating or intestinal gas, so beware or consume alone. Alternatively, try eating some peanut butter or almond butter with ripe bananas to slow down the sugar absorption and prevent spikes.

If you're unsure whether ripe bananas are better for you, check with your doctor. It is recommended that people consume 3.5 to 5 cups worth of produce per day, and yet hardly anyone does this. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than one percent of adolescents meet the daily produce requirement while only around 2 percent of adult males and 3.5 percent of adult females get enough. Therefore, don't avoid bananas unless you have a medical reason to do so.

See also:

The Best Years in Life Cancer Alternatives Resource Page

Bananas May Provide a Key to Preventing the Spread of HIV


About the Author

Sárka-Jonae Miller is a health and fitness expert. She began working in the fitness industry in 2000 while pursuing a BS in journalism at Syracuse University. She became certified as a personal fitness trainer and group exercise instructor in 2003. She has also received training in massage therapy. Sárka also writes fiction. She is the author of the chick lit novel, Between Boyfriends. Get more health and wellness tips on Sárka's Natural Healing Tips blog or join her on Facebook and Twitter.


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