Apple vs banana: comparing health benefits, side effects and risks

Apple vs banana: comparing health benefits, side effects and risks
October 20, 2015 6:48 AM

This post compares apple vs banana. Nutritional values, health benefits and side effects of both fruits are described in detail.

Do you think your diet is perfectly balanced without fruits? Nothing can make your diet balanced and healthy unless you add fruits to it. Fruits are like engine oil that is necessary to maintain the smooth running of body’s engine. Fruits are a blessing from nature that are gifted with an abundant amount of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. All these nutrients packed within the fruits are highly beneficial as they boost the natural immunity of the body and help prevent the risk of certain diseases like heart diseases, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Those who eat an adequate amount of fruits daily are able to live a better and healthy life.

All fruits are considered to be equally good for your health, but the only difference lies within their nutritional value, calories and sugar content. This article is for those who are fond of eating apples and bananas. Both apples and bananas are super foods with amazing health benefits.

But, which one is better than the other?

The answer to this query will be addressed in this article through making a comparison of their nutritional value, health benefits and side effects. Once you know the health benefits and effects of apples and bananas on your body, it will make you able to utilize these fruits in a better way to obtain maximum health benefits from them.

Apples vs bananas: comparison of nutritional values

Among all the fruits, apples and bananas are the most popular ones. Unlike other seasonal fruits, you don’t have to wait the whole year to have these fruits as they are easily available throughout the year. Deciding between apples and bananas is a difficult task as both fruits are equally good and contain a lot of nutrients and antioxidants. However, there is a slight difference between compositions of these two fruits which will be discussed below (1, 2):

Calories

Calories are something we all are conscious about. Although fruits are the low caloric foods, yet they cannot be calories free. Calories means the amount of energy contained within the foods. Eating excess calories more than body’s need will make you make gain weight because excess calories are stored in the form of fats. Therefore, you need to know about the caloric content of the fruits you are taking.

When it comes to compare the caloric content of apples and bananas, apples have low calories as compared to bananas. A medium sizes apple, about the weight of 182g, contains more or less 95 calories and a medium size banana with a weight of 118 grams contains about 105 calories. So, this means that bananas are more caloric dense as compared to apples. If you eat equal amount or weight of both fruits, then bananas will give you much higher calories than apples.

Sugar content and glycemic index

One medium size apple contains 19g of sugar while, one medium size banana contains 14 g of sugar. It seems that apples have high sugar content than bananas but the difference lies in their glycemic indexes. Glycemic index means the ability of a food to cause a spike or change in blood sugar level. Foods having glycemic index less than 55 are considered to be low glycemic foods because they do not tend to cause a prominent change in the levels of blood glucose. Both apples and bananas are low glycemic foods but, bananas have higher glycemic index than apples.

A medium size apple has a glycemic index of 39 while a medium banana has a glycemic index of 52. Furthermore, the glycemic index of bananas depends on their ripeness. The riper a banana is, the more will be its glycemic index. This means bananas tend to cause a quick rise in blood sugar level as compared to apples. But, this does not mean that eating bananas is bad for you. Having 1-2 bananas daily is fine but, having more than this can cause a prominent change in blood sugar glucose level.

Fiber

Fruits are by far the richest sources of fiber. High fiber foods aid in digestion and help lowering the cholesterol level. One good thing about high fiber foods is that they cannot cause a rapid rise in blood sugar level because fiber is made up of complex carbohydrates or starchy material that is not readily digested and absorbed by the body. Eating fiber rich foods will full your tummy up and help control your hunger.

Fiber content of apples is higher than bananas. A medium size apple contains about 5g of fiber and a medium banana contains about 3 g fiber. If you eat equal amount of both apple and banana, then apple will make you feel full for longer time.

Vitamins

Apples and bananas contain an abundant amount of vitamin but, their amount varies slightly. Apples are loaded with high amount of vitamin A, E and K and bananas are rich in vitamin C and vitamin B-6. Apart from these vitamins, both fruits contain small amount of other vitamins including vitamin B-1, B-2 and niacin.

Minerals

One good thing about these fruits is their high potassium content. However, the potassium concentration of banana is much higher than apple as it contains about 422mg of potassium in it. Apple, on the other hand, has 195mg of potassium that is still higher than many other foods. High potassium in fruits is regarded as beneficial for health because it helps regulate the blood pressure. Along with potassium, each banana contains 32mg of magnesium which is many folds higher than other sources of magnesium. Like potassium, magnesium is also good and healthy for blood pressure control and heart health. Both fruits contain trace amount of other minerals as well including iron, calcium, phosphorus, sodium and zinc.

Antioxidants

What makes fruits so healthy? The secret lies in their high antioxidant content. Antioxidants are the nutrients that help boost up the immunity and suppress inflammation in the body. Both apples and fruits are enriched with special antioxidant substances, known as flavonoids. These flavonoids regulate immune system and improve the overall health of the body.

Fats

Here is good news for you. You don’t have to worry about fats in these fruits as they contain only a negligible amount of fats. The trace amount of fats in these fruits is good for health because plant source fats are polyunsaturated fats which help improve the immunity. So, you can have these fruits without the fear of getting fat.

A comparison of health benefits

The health benefits of apples and bananas will be discussed separately that will make you realize the importance of these fruits in keeping your body healthy and well toned.

Health benefits of apples

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. You might have come across this famous saying many times on the internet and social media, claiming that apples are the magical fruit that can keep you safe from all health troubles. Believe it or not, this famous saying does hold a lot of significance. Apples being a rich source of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are supposed to be the healthiest foods bestowed with a number of health benefits. Here are given the health benefits of apples that will testify the integrity of above given famous saying (3, 4, 5, 6):

Lower your cholesterol

Cholesterol is needed for the proper functioning of body’s cells. But, it is something that needs to be tightly regulated by the body because excess of cholesterol can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. Apples are an amazing antidote to prevent cholesterol build up in the body. Apples contain a water soluble fiber, names as pectin. This pectin fiber traps cholesterol in it and prevents it absorption through the gut. Thus, by binding the cholesterol in the gut, apple helps lower down your cholesterol level.

Keep Alzheimer’s at a bay

Alzheimer’s is an age related brain disease in which degenerative changes occur in the brain cells. This progressive degeneration of brain cells causes dementia and cognitive dysfunction. You might be thinking how can an apple prevent Alzheimer’s disease? Apples contain an antioxidant called quercetin that helps in halting the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. These antioxidants fight against all those harmful oxide radicals that are responsible for causing degeneration of brain cells. Antioxidants in apples also help boost the release of acetylcholine in the brain cells. Acetylcholine is a brain neurotransmitter that helps improve memory and cognitive function of the Alzheimer’s patient. This makes apple a fruit of choice to prevent the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Keep you safe from diabetes

Apple is an amazing food to keep diabetes under control. Apples contain complex carbohydrates that break down slowly and are released gradually into the blood. This prevents the sudden rise in blood sugar level and keeps the blood sugar level sustained. Apart from regulating the blood sugar level, antioxidants present in the apples help improve the insulin secretion in type 2 diabetic people which is necessary to keep the blood glucose level normal. Type 2 diabetic patient have cell resistance to insulin. Due to this insulin resistance, the body cells become unable to utilize the glucose which causes a rise in blood sugar level. But, antioxidants in the apple provide a solution to this. Antioxidants make the cell responsive to insulin and increase the glucose uptake by cells which help in lowering of blood glucose. Therefore, those who eat apples daily have lesser risk of getting diabetes.

Make your heart healthy

Cholesterol is not good for your heart health. When it gets in excess in the body, it starts building up in the blood vessels of heart. Once the cholesterol builds up in the arteries it gets oxidized by damaging oxygen free radical. Gradually a plaque develops at this site that reduces the blood flow to heart and causes heart attack. But, an apple a day can keep you away from heart attack. High fiber in apples helps lower down the cholesterol level in the body and stops its build up in the heart vessels. Also the antioxidants in the apple fight against the oxidation of cholesterol and prevent plaque formation. Thus, eating apples maintain the healthy blood flow to heart and keep it trouble free.

Boost up the digestion

The high fiber content of apple makes it a superb food for keeping your gut well toned. Fiber helps to boost the digestion and makes the bowel movement more regular. When fiber reaches the gut, it absorbs water in it and swells up like a gel which adds bulk to the food and makes it soft. This helps relieve the constipation and the complications associated with constipation like hemorrhoids and anal fissures.

Help cure anemia

Anemia occurs when blood hemoglobin level falls below normal. Iron is the chief ingredient needed for the synthesis of hemoglobin in the body. Though apples are not the richest sources of iron, the vitamin C present within them help improve the iron absorption through the gut.  Thus, people having anemia due to iron deficiency can seek help from apples because apples can raise the iron level in the body which initiates the hemoglobin synthesis.

Prevent cancers

Apples not only aid in digestion, they are also helpful in reducing the risk of colon cancer. Cancer occurs when cell start growing uncheck and beyond their natural limit. A number of tumor causing growth factors are involved in causing cancer. But, apples can help prevent cancer, like colon cancer, by fighting against tumor causing growth factors. Antioxidants in apples improve the gut health and boost the gut immunity. They help regulate the cellular proliferation and keep it under control. Another important role of antioxidants in cancer prevention is to induce those pathways that are responsible for causing apoptosis or death of cancer cells. This prevents the tumor cells from growing and halts the further progression of cancer.

Regulate blood pressure

Those who eat apples daily have better control of their blood pressure. Apples are best option to keep your blood pressure normal because of their high potassium content. Potassium helps prevent excessive sodium re absorption through kidneys, a mechanism which is responsible for causing high blood pressure. High sodium in the body causes water retention by preventing their excretion through kidneys which causes a rise in blood pressure. But when potassium lowers down sodium level in the body, the water retention is suppressed and its excretion through kidneys is increased. This helps bringing the blood pressure back to normal.

Good for asthma

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung disease. In asthma, inflammatory changes occurs in the respiratory passages on exposure to allergens, causing constriction of airways. This leads to episodic attacks of breathlessness in patient with asthma. But, asthma attack can be prevented by eating those foods that suppress the inflammation. Apples are good for asthmatic people because they contain an abundant amount of antioxidants. These antioxidants suppress the inflammation and keep the airway patent which maintains the airflow and prevents the shortness of breath.

Make you lose weight

Calorie conscious people or those who are struggling to lose weight; here is something good for you. Apples can help you in losing weight because they are rich in fiber. Fiber makes you feel full for longer and satisfy your hunger. Eating an apple in the breakfast will keep you full till afternoon and stop you from munching on high caloric unhealthy foods throughout the day.

Improve skin and hair health

Eating apples daily will make your skin look younger, healthier and fresh. Apples are very beneficial for skin and hair health. The antioxidants in the apples provide protection against all those free radical that are responsible for causing skin spots and wrinkling. The nutrients contained in the apples cause regeneration of skin cells and improve its blood supply, giving a fresh look to skin. Apples are also helpful if you want your hair fall to stop. The vitamins and minerals in the apples tend to compensate the nutrient deficiencies responsible for causing hair fall. All these amazing benefits of apples make them a choice of food for fighting against skin problems and hair fall.

Let you have a better sleep

People who are struggling hard with sleep deprivation or insomnia; they can get benefit from apples. Potassium present in the apples regulates heart rate during sleep and promotes muscle relaxation which make you sleep in a better way. Vitamins and anti oxidants in the apples stimulate the release of sleep inducing neurotransmitters that help you fall asleep and keep your sleep uninterrupted.

Health benefits of bananas

Bananas have got so many health benefits that you can ever think off. This yellow jacketed fruit is enriched with calories, vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants that are required for healthy functioning of body systems. Here are given some of the health benefits of bananas that you need to be familiar with (7, 8, 9):

Blood pressure lowering

Bananas are considered to the perfect for blood pressure control. One medium sized banana about7-8 inches length contains almost 400mg of potassium, which is high enough as compared to other potassium rich foods. Potassium is needed as a crucial element for regulating the blood pressure. It reduces sodium absorption in the body and increases the water excretion through kidneys which help in lowering down the blood pressure. Therefore, people who eat bananas daily along with dietary sodium restriction are less likely to suffer from blood pressure problems.

Prevent heart diseases

Heart diseases are getting prevalent worldwide. The main culprit behind this high risk of heart diseases is high cholesterol diet. High blood cholesterol level causes deposition of cholesterol in heart vessels and formation of an atherosclerotic plaque which compromises the blood flow. As a result, angina or heart attack occurs. But, eating bananas can help solve your problem.

Fiber present in bananas helps trap the dietary cholesterol in it and prevent its absorption into the body. This lessens the chances of cholesterol deposition heart vessel and reduces the risk of heart attack. Apart from lowering cholesterol, potassium present in the bananas maintains the heart health and makes it able to pump blood in a more effective manner. Potassium also lowers down blood pressure, reducing burden on the heart and improving its activity.

Improve gut health

Poor gut health can be the harbinger of many health issues. However, there are certain foods including bananas which are helpful in improving gut health and metabolism. Bananas contain a special fiber called fructooligosaccharide which is utilized by healthy gut bacteria as a fuel or energy. Fructooligosaccharide thus stimulates the growth of gut friendly bacteria which then helps in boosting up the gut metabolism. On the other hand, the fiber present in bananas adds bulk to the stool and makes it softer which helps relieve constipation.

Help with diarrhea

Bananas are supposed to be an excellent antidote for diarrhea. They are used as a home remedy to treat diarrhea. In diarrheas, continuous loss of electrolytes occurs through watery stools that causes weakness and lethargy. Eating bananas at the time of diarrhea attack help replenish those electrolytes that have lost through stools. High potassium in the bananas helps bring the potassium level back to normal which is necessary for maintaining body’s functions because losing too much potassium through diarrhea can cause serious health issues. Also the fiber present in bananas helps add bulk to the stool and gives solid consistency to stools.

Reduce the risk of stroke

Stroke is a neurological emergency condition that causes paralysis. In stroke, the blood supply to the brain is reduced.  Hypertension or high blood pressure is one of the leading causes of stroke. But, eating bananas daily can reduce your risk of getting stroke because high potassium in them help lower down the blood pressure, thus removing the main trigger of stroke.

Ease out heartburn

Bananas are the perfect food for those who are sick of their heartburn problem. Bananas stimulate the production of protective mucus layer around stomach lining which keeps it safe from the action of stomach acid. This helps is reducing stomach acidity and feeling of heart burn. Bananas also contain special protease enzymes which fight against those harmful bacteria that are responsible for causing acidity and ulcers.

Mood boosters

Bananas contain an ample amount of an amino acid tryptophan, which is converted by the body to serotonin. Serotonin is a mood boosting neurotransmitter and its healthy level in the brain cells should be maintained. Low level of serotonin in the brain cells results in mood disorders including anxiety and depression. However, eating bananas can keep you away from this as they tend to raise serotonin level in the brain and boost up the mood as well.

Bananas are also helpful in curing insomnia or sleep problems because high potassium and magnesium in them increase the release of sleep inducing neurotransmitters in the brain and cause muscle relaxation which help you fall asleep faster.

A perfect snack for workout

Keeping your blood glucose levels sustained during workout is very important. Never go for a workout on empty stomach as it will cause a rapid fall in your blood sugar level and you won’t be able to do workout for long. How would you appreciate the idea of munching on a banana before having workout? It’s cool to have banana as snack before workout. Bananas have less calories and low glycemic index as compared to other high calories sports snack or energy drinks. Eating a banana before workout will keep your blood sugar level sustained and help you hit the gym harder.

An instant energy source

Are you feeling low or out of energy? Go and have a banana because bananas are an instant source of energy. A medium size banana contains about 105 calories which means eating a banana will give you a sudden rush of energy. Bananas have low glycemic index because they do not cause a sudden fluctuation sugar level. Eating a banana when you feel exhausted will help stabilize your blood sugar level and keep it sustained for longer. Thus sustained blood glucose level will make you feel energetic for a longer span.

Cancer fighters

Research studies have shown that eating bananas daily provide protection against renal cancer. Ripe banana are full of antioxidants that regulate the immune system. These antioxidants help prevent the caner growth by suppressing the release of tumors causing growth factors that are being held responsible for promoting tumor growth.

Good for weight loss

It’s a myth that eating bananas can make you fat. Having 2-3 bananas in a day won’t make you fat. Bananas are low caloric food enriched with unique content of nutrients. It’s good to replace high sugar foods in your diet with low caloric and low carbohydrates containing bananas. In fact, eating one or two bananas in the morning with satisfy your hunger and make you fill full for a longer time. So, if you are following a diet plan to lose weight, try adding bananas to it as they will keep your tummy full and stop you from snacking on high sugar foods.

A comparison of side effects

Apples and bananas are very safe to eat. Eating these won’t cause you any harm unless you eat dozens of them. Even these fruits are enriched with healthy nutrients, yet their misuse can cause some side effects as well (10).

Side effects of apples

Weight gain

A medium size apple contains 95 calories that is quite low as compared to other foods. But this does not mean that eating apples won’t give you calories at all. Having two apples per day is fine. Eating too many apples daily will defiantly make you gain weight as they build up calories in your body.

Tooth decay

Munching on apples throughout the day can leave you with dental problems like tooth enamel decay or cavities. Apples contain some amount of acid in it. If you keep eating apples all the time, then you may get teeth problem because acid in them can erode protective tooth enamel.

Apples seeds poisoning

Apples are good for health but their seeds can be lethally dangerous for you. Apples seeds are full of cyanide that can cause dangerous cyanide poisoning. Ingesting a large of apples at once will release cyanide in the stomach which will then be absorbed in the blood and cause poisoning. However, chances of this accidental seed ingestion are very unlikely.

Stomach discomfort

Fiber in the apples in good for regulating bowel movements but having excess of this fiber can do more harm than good. Eating a lot of apples in one day will fill your stomach up with an excess amount of fiber. This fiber then distends and irritates the stomach, causing stomach pain or discomfort.

Side effects of bananas

Weight gain

Having a banana snack in the morning or before workout won’t make you gain weight. However, eating a dozen of bananas daily will definitely make you fat. As one banana contains 100 calories, you can well imagine the total calories you are going to have after eating a lot of bananas. Two bananas in a day will make you feel full for a longer time but, having more than this will make you gain weight instead of losing it.

Hyperkalemia

Bananas are famous or their high potassium content that is beneficial for lowering blood pressure and heart health. But this does not mean that you keep eating bananas all day thinking that it will boost up your potassium and make your heart healthy. Potassium is good but having excess of it can cause hyperkalemia, a lethal condition which causes irregular heartbeats and pulse. If not treated in time, hyperkalemia can prove to be fatal.

Teeth problems

Sugar present in the bananas in not good for your teeth health. Eating too many bananas will make your teeth more exposed to sugars. These sugars stick to teeth and gradually cause tooth cavities.

Constipation

A properly ripe banana may help make your bowel movements regular. But, an unripe banana can have an effect opposite to it because they are more likely to worsen your constipation. Unripe bananas contain a huge amount of undigested fiber that is more than the body’s need. When this huge amount of undigested fiber remains for a longer time in the gut, it absorbs all the water and make stool harder and difficult to pass.

Bloating and gas trouble

Fiber intake in the diet should not be more than daily need of the body. When taken in excess, this fiber is digested by bacteria in the gut and cause problems like bloating, abdominal cramping and gas trouble.

Conclusion

Both apples and bananas are known to be the healthiest foods. These are foods that must be part of everyone’s daily diet regimen. Having an adequate amount these two fruits in the diet will keep you away from a number of health problems. Both fruits have got their own health benefits. However, when a comparison has to be made between the two, apples take the lead because they tend to have lower calories, lower sugar and higher fiber compared to bananas.

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Written by: Michal Vilímovský (EN)
Education: Medical student, 3rd Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
Article resources: See numbered references within the post.
Image resources: Dollarphotoclub.com
Published: October 20, 2015 6:48 AM
Next scheduled update: October 20, 2017 6:48 AM
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