Which Of These Bananas Is Better For You— Ripe Or Unripe?

How do you prefer your banana fruit: on the bit green side or on the fully ripe side?

Did you know that the nutritional features of the bananas kept in your kitchen cupboards actually change as they grow riper?

Also, as bananas gradually ripen, they become sweeter tasting.

Why does this change happen?

It happens because there are enzymes in the bananas that begin to break down starches – which aren’t sweet in nature – into a new substance that is sugar. This change also makes the banana easier digestible for your intestines!

Read what the Japanese researchers have recently discovered about ripe banana properties (source).
It is fascinating indeed:

In the course of its ripening, the ripe banana produces more antioxidants than its fresher “cousins” contain. When the banana develops dark patches on the skin, it produces what is called TNF (Tumor Necrosis Factor), a substance that combats cancer and neoplasm (abnormal growth of tissue).

The darker the spots, the more powerful the banana is at killing cancer and abnormal cells. A ripe banana is 8 times more effective in boosting the body’s immune system than a green banana is.

So, what is the best time to eat a banana? The best time is when it is as ripe as possible. And I agree, the patience required to see bananas ripe is almost as challenging as waiting for avocados to ripen!

It’s certainly worth noting that type 2 diabetes patients should eat a ripe banana with nut butter. The fats in the nut butter will slow down sugar absorption in your blood stream, so it doesn’t hit you all at once, making it easier for your body to break it down.

We often look at fruit and think, “oh, it’s far too ripe” or “oh, damn that fruit is too green” which is a shame because different stages of fruit maturity have different benefits. So let’s do some more scrutiny on both sides:

Ripe bananas facts

1. Benefits

Because the resistant starch changes to simple sugar when a banana ripens, yellow bananas are easier to digest.  The higher glycemic index of ripe bananas shows that they are digested quickly.  Bananas also have higher levels of antioxidants as they ripen. The fact that fully-ripened bananas produce the substance TNF (Tumor Necrosis Factor) means that the more dark spots a banana has on its peel, the higher its immunity enhancement quality will be.

2. Drawbacks:

Studies show that there is evident micronutrient loss that happens as a banana ripens.  To lessen the amount of vitamins and minerals lost, it is better to store and ripen your bananas in the refrigerator. The riper the banana gets, the higher the sugar content. You can tell this by the brown spots,   called sugar spots. This high sugar content makes ripe bananas something Type 2 Diabetics should certainly avoid.

Green bananas facts

1. Benefits:

One benefit of green bananas is the high resistant starch content.  If you are trying to avoid foods with high sugar content, then green bananas are the better option for you, whereas yellow bananas are not as good.  Hence, those suffering from type 2 diabetes can eat the unripe fruit, but fully-ripened bananas are not as compatible with their condition. Unripe bananas also have pro-biotic bacteria, a friendly bacterium that helps with good gut and colon health. In addition, green bananas help you absorb nutrients better, calcium in particular.

2. Drawbacks: Because antioxidant levels actually go up as the banana “ages”, unripe bananas are of lower quality in this regard.  Also, green bananas may cause some bloating and gas due to the higher resistant starch content.

Recap: Both ripe and green bananas offer health benefits.  You could eat unripen bananas or ripened bananas and get the benefits of either one.  The only difference is that type 2 diabetics, and anyone else trying to avoid excess sugar, must stick to green bananas.


Note: The content provided above is for informational purposes solely and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Department of Medical Life Chemistry, Teikyo University, Japan
Simple Organic Life