If you are familiar with diabetes or you have someone in your family that is diabetic, you probably already know how important the term glycemic index (GI) is. For every person diagnosed with diabetes it is always recommended that their diet stay within the range of low GI levels.
In this article we are primarily interested in the question of how fruits, primarily bananas, affect diabetes and diabetics and do they have high or low glycemic index.
As the modern science tries to gather even more information about diabetes and its causes, the latest research shows that using the glycemic index as the only measure to see if a certain food or fruit is good for diabetics is not believed to be that accurate anymore.
Less and less reliability is placed on this indicator because it is not quite certain what effect the food has on insulin, cholesterol and glucose levels in diabetics. These are the GI values for some of the common fruits:
- Bananas 51
- Grapefruit 25
- Kiwi 47
- Mango 41
- Papaya 56
- Watermelon 72
- Oranges 31
As you can see, bananas are kind of in the middle range and yet even the diabetes organizations recommend eating them regularly. However you still have to be careful and measure how many bananas you consume. In this short excerpt from American Diabetes Association we see a few guidelines related to bananas and diabetes (type 2 diabetes in this case).
Yes, you can still eat bananas — even if you have diabetes.
Bananas are a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C, but they do contain carbohydrates. In fact, all fruit has some carbohydrate, so you need to count them in your diabetes meal plan.
If you want to include bananas in your diabetes meal plan, become familiar with portion sizes and the number of carbohydrates in each.
Bananas And Diabetes – Size Matters
Bananas vary quite a bit in size, so counting the carbs that they provide can be difficult.
Below are some estimates for different sizes.
Extra small bananas (6 inches long or less) — 18.5 grams of carbohydrate
Small bananas (about 6-6 7/8 inches long) — 23 grams of carbohydrate
Medium bananas (7-7 7/8 inches long) — 27 grams of carbohydrate
Large bananas (8-8 7/8 inches long) — 31 grams of carbohydrate
Extra large bananas (9 inches or longer) — 35 grams of carbohydrate
Note that blood glucose responses can vary from person to person. Be aware that you may need to make adjustments the portion size you eat depending on your how your blood glucose responds to eating bananas or other types of fruit.
There is also something else to consider – the ripeness of the bananas you eat! There were a few studies done to answer the question of can diabetics eat bananas and then further examined if the bananas should be ripe or green. One of these studies (Influence of ripeness of banana on the blood glucose and insulin response in type 2 diabetic subjects) indicates that the ripeness has a very important role in determining when is it safe for diabetes diet and when it isn't.
In this segment, we explore other options to consider in this relationship between bananas and diabetes. Consideration of glycemic levels and counting the total amount of carbohydrates you intake as part of your diabetes diet still remains one of the most important control checks you can implement. By selecting food combinations that complement each other you'll be able to make sure your levels stay within the recommended norm.
One extra-small banana contains 8 percent of the daily value for potassium, a mineral that can help you control your blood pressure. It also provides you with 2 grams of fiber and 12 percent of the daily value for vitamin C. Even diabetics should eat at least two servings of fruit per day, and bananas are allowed as long as you eat them with meals and take the amount of carbohydrates they contain into consideration using one of the diabetic diet planning tools.
Diabetes and Carbohydrate Counting
The recommended serving size for bananas for diabetics is one extra-small banana, which is a banana that is no more than 6 inches long. A banana of this size contains 19 grams of carbohydrates, which is about a third of the 45 grams to 60 grams of carbohydrates most diabetics can consume in each meal.
Foods that are low on the GI cause less of a rise in blood sugar levels in diabetics than foods that are higher on the glycemic scale. A banana that is a bit green is lower on the glycemic index than a riper banana. If you eat a banana, which is a medium glycemic index food, eat it along with foods that are low on the glycemic index or with foods that contain little or no carbohydrate, as this will help keep your blood sugar from spiking.
Foods low on the GI include nuts, non-starchy vegetables and beans. Meat, fish, poultry, cheese and eggs are examples of foods that contain very little carbohydrate. Fruits that have a lower glycemic index include raw apples, cherries and grapefruit, and those that have a higher glycemic index include dried dates and watermelon.
Create Your Plate
The American Diabetes Association's Create Your Plate method for diabetics allows you to control your blood sugar without worrying about counting carbohydrates. You fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, then split the other half of the plate between lean protein and starchy foods and add a glass of milk and a small piece of fruit. Diabetics can use an extra-small banana as the fruit for their meals when using this system.
Consuming a consistent amount of carbohydrates throughout the day to maintain blood sugar levels is just as important as the total amount of carbohydrates diabetics consume. Diabetics also need to eat some protein and fat with each meal to help keep blood glucose levels from spiking too much from the carbohydrates in the meal.