Is it Good to Eat Bananas at Night?
Is it a good idea for people to eat bananas before heading off to bed? What are major health benefits of bananas? What are good ways to add bananas to your diet?
Bananas have been cultivated for thousands of years and the fruit probably originated in southern Asia, with traders bringing it to America in the 1830s, according to Commodity Trade of the Third World by Frederick F. Clairmonte.
Despite what you may have heard, there’s no need to make yourself hungry, avoiding eating before going to bed. You might actually find it harder to get to sleep if you wind up being distracted by hunger after putting on pajamas. That’s a shame, since bananas are a tasty, healthy fruit that can satisfy your cravings while delivering an excellent mix of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
Maybe you’re among the many fans of bananas but you’re not quite sure how they might fit in your healthy eating plan. Ideally, if you’re hungry before bedtime, make sure to eat your banana at least 3 to 4 hours before sleep, to give you sufficient time to digest the fruit.
Otherwise, the digestion process can make it harder to get to sleep. And it’s best to finish meals well before bedtime so that instead of your digestive system having to work so hard overnight, your body can take care of other business, such as growth and repair of tissues.
Nutritional Profile of Bananas
You don’t need to be a scientist to appreciate the nutritional details of bananas. The U.S Department of Agriculture maintains precise information about this fruit. A large 8-inch to 8-7/8-inch banana weighing about 136 grams provides:
- Calories: 121
- Protein: 1.48 g
- Carbohydrate: 31.1 g
- Fiber: 3.5 g
- Fat: 0.449 g
- Sugars: 16.6 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
- Magnesium: 36.7 mg
- Potassium: 487 mg
- Sodium: 1.36 mg
- Vitamin C: 11.8 mg
- Thiamin 0.042 mg
- Riboflavin: 0.099 mg
- Niacin: 0.904 mg
- Vitamin B-6: 0.499 mg
- Folate: 27.2 ug
- Vitamin A: 4.08 ug
- Carotene, beta: 35.4 ug
- Carotene, alpha: 34 ug
Health Benefits of Bananas
Bananas aren’t just great for a tasty midnight snack before bed. They confer a range of health benefits too. For example, people who eat bananas might experience a reduced risk of strokes and heart attacks as well as a lowered chance of contracting certain types of cancer, noted PBS.
The USDA concurs, reporting that eating fruit gives health benefits and that people who eat more produce (in context of a generally healthy diet) are more likely to reduce getting chronic diseases.
What’s more, we need to eat fruit to get crucial nutrients that our body needs to maintain health. Bananas are a handy fruit to keep nearby, as they contain a good supply of potassium as well as fiber, which many people fail to get enough of in their daily diet. Plenty of roughage makes for a healthier and more regular digestive system, after all.
For individuals who are concerned about their blood sugar levels, bananas are a good source of the fiber known as pectin, which accounts for the fruit maintaining its form, as noted by Healthline.
Pectin can moderate blood glucose as well as give you greater control over hunger, since appetite is reduced when fiber-filled fruits slow down the rate of your stomach emptying into the intestines. People should consult their primary health care provider if they have any questions about a particular food item and how it might affect their blood sugar levels.
The high levels of potassium found in bananas can also support people’s cardiovascular health. Potassium plays a role in controlling blood pressure, as does magnesium, and these minerals appear in abundance in bananas.
Side Effects of Bananas
Being a natural food, bananas are not really considered dangerous per se. There is a potential for some side effects in certain individuals, though. According to WebMD, bananas are “likely safe” when consumed in normal amounts (such as one to two bananas at most in a serving).
But on rare occasions, people may experience some side effects, including cramping, gas, bloating, nausea and stools that are softer than usual. There are cases of people being allergic to bananas but this seems to be a rare phenomenon.
How Many Bananas a Day to Eat?
Every person will have different food requirements, based on their gender, size, age and amount of physical activity. But in general, according to the USDA, 1 cup of fruit is considered one serving. One large banana measuring 8” to 9” in length is equivalent to approximately 1 cup of sliced banana. A half-serving comes from a smaller banana, shorter than 6.”
Experts from the World Health Organization recommend that people consume at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day, with bananas being an ideal way to boost your fruit consumption, noted Healthline.
Types of Bananas
You may be most familiar with the yellow bananas typically found in markets. That’s no wonder, since people love this variety and know just what to expect in terms of flavor profile, how long they take to ripen. Bananas are grown in tropical countries. They are usually long and curved, with a peel that when removed yields the familiar soft, spongy flesh we all know and love.
But there are actually about 1,000 varieties of bananas known growing around the world, according to Leafy Place. Bananas come in small, red form, long and yellow, fat green bananas, bananas of purple hue and even tiny bananas that measure just 3 inches in length.
Bananas we eat today are grown in 150 countries. The most common types of bananas that you may encounter in your favorite produce store include:
- Blue Java Bananas: This unique type of banana is a hybrid and people prize them for their extreme sweetness. They have an ice cream-like texture, and that’s why their nickname is the “Ice Cream Banana.” Before ripening, these bananas are striking for their blue color, which ranges from light blue to the color of the sky. They turn yellow with silver tones as they ripe. Most farmers of Blue Java bananas raise them in Hawaii, so they are commonly referred to as Hawaiian bananas when not being labeled as “Ice Cream” bananas.
- Burro Bananas: These yellow bananas are fatter and a bit shorter than the common Cavendish variety. You’ll find them growing only to about 6” and they are a bit squarish in shape. Burro bananas start out green before ripening to a rich yellow hue, with the result being a firm, sweet and tangy piece of fruit that does well when cooked as well as when eaten raw.
- Cavendish Bananas: This is likely the kind of banana you’re most familiar with, as it’s the most-sold banana in the United States. Researchers believe that the Cavendish variety represents about half of all bananas being sold today, worldwide. Consumers buy these while green to ripen at home over a few days, or grab some that are already ripe and ready to consume. A good approach is to buy a few green ones and a few almost ripe bananas plus some that are ripe and ready to eat today whenever you go to the market, so you can have them throughout the week without waiting for them to turn yellow. Varieties of the Cavendish include Dwarf Cavendish, Williams, Giant Cavendish and the well-known Chiquita banana called “Grand Naine.”
- Gros Michel (aka “Big Mike”) Bananas: The Gros Michel was the most popular banana in the world before the rise in prominence of the Cavendish. Also called “Big Mike,” these bananas have a very thick skin and are typically larger than the Cavendish, making them great for shipping. One problem that led to the Gros Michel waning in popularity is that a major disease struck this type back in the 1950s. With the worldwide crop numbers for Gros Michel tumbling, the Cavendish took over and became the current most popular banana. While not imported as much into the United States, Gros Michel bananas are still produced in large amounts in countries such as Malaysia and Thailand for distribution throughout Asia.
- Lady Finger Bananas: This variety of banana is prized for its luxurious, creamy texture. They are so sweet, people often call Lady Fingers the “Fig Banana,” “Sugar Banana” or even “Date Banana.” Since they often grow to just three inches in length, Lady Finger bananas are called baby (or “Nino”). Their skin turns yellow with brown blotches when ripe, and the flesh of the banana is yellow like the Cavendish. They’re suitable for eating raw (with that intense honey flavor) or cooked, such as in deep fried fritters.
- Manzano Bananas: Also known as “Apple Bananas,” these are plump little bananas that grow about 4 inches long. They begin green and turn yellowish when ripening, like most other varieties. Manzano bananas are typically sweeter than the Cavendish, especially if you allow them to grow completely black before consumption.
- Plantains: These bananas are used primarily for cooking. Not as sweet as the Cavendish and other popular varieties, they are packed with starch. That lends them well to boiling as well as steaming or frying in a pan. When ripe, they grow softer but do not increase much in sweetness.
- Rajapuri Bananas: An intensely sweet banana type grown in Asia, they reach about 6 inches in length, yielding a dense flesh that is nice and creamy. They’re also grown as ornamental plants, as they offer a nice amount of shade in backyard gardens.
- Red Bananas: Sporting a vivid red skin, these bananas are delightful with pink, creamy flesh. Sweeter than the familiar Cavendish, they are usually smaller too. Buy them when already ripe, for best results. When unripe, the taste and texture can be off-putting. You’ll detect a slight flavor of raspberries when biting into red bananas.
If you have only been eating one type of banana, such as yellow or red, now would be a good time to expand your horizons and see what all the other varieties taste like, from eating by hand to incorporating them more often in snacks, meals and desserts.
Eating Bananas Before Bed
All of this talk of bananas can certainly make one become hungry. If that’s the case for you, you might be wondering about whether you should eat bananas close to bedtime.
Bananas are clearly a healthy food with many benefits, making them a great treat any time of the day. So, there’s nothing wrong with grabbing a banana for a midnight snack, especially if hunger will interfere with your sleep.
If you’re going to be eating bananas before bedtime, make sure to do so about 4 hours before slumber. That’ll give you time to digest the healthful fruit and enjoy a better night’s sleep.
Best Ways to Eat Bananas
Eat bananas raw by hand, chopped up and put inside of a peanut butter sandwich, or layer them in ice cream for a banana split. They also do well in pies and in banana bread. Bananas are great in a smoothie to start your morning right. You can fry bananas as well as boil or steam them, making them a most versatile food.
First, it’s important to know how to tell when a banana is ripe. Depending on your preference, you may eat them at any point in their ripeness, from green to brown.
Bananas start out green. Before they begin to ripen, they have less sugar and more starch, as noted by Leafy Place. While the taste is not very sweet at this point, you can boil, fry or steam them like you would with plantains.
When green and yellow, the banana is considered close to being ripe but not quite there yet. This condition is prime for cooking bananas. There’s a small amount of sweetness. Enjoy green and yellow bananas raw or after cooking.
Bananas with a fully yellow skin are now completely ripe and are in the best state to eat them for maximum flavor and mouth feel. You’ll find they are easy to chew and bite into, with a pleasantly soft textured flesh. Dessert bananas such as the popular Cavendish will give off plenty of complex, pleasant aromas, so they’re ideal to cook (such as in a banana cream pie) if not eating out of hand.
At the point when bananas are yellow with brown spots or areas, they are extremely ripe. The flesh will be extremely soft and sweet.
Completely brown bananas are considered “over-ripe” but they are still fine for eating. They are very mushy in consistency and deliver the most flavor. Many individuals use brown bananas to make desserts such as pudding, or incorporate them into healthy smoothie drinks.
The Bottom Line
It’s clear that bananas are a great fruit that people can snack on with confidence before heading off to bed. That’s no wonder, since the banana provides plenty of nutrients in a tasty, convenient package that includes its own wrapping. If you desire to consume a banana before bedtime, it is a fine choice.
However, it’s prudent to plan ahead and try to eat the banana at least a few hours ahead of slumber time. That allows your digestive system time to process the fruit, giving you plenty of time to rest and sleep. So, eating a delicious banana as part of your nighttime ritual before bed will be a fine way to cap off the evening.
|Written by:||Michal Vilímovský (EN)|
|Published:||February 7, 2021 at 7:58 PM|
|Next scheduled update:||February 7, 2023 at 7:58 PM|