Ripe vs. Unripe Bananas: Which Are Better For You?

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When it comes to banana’s many of us go well.. literally “banana’s” for them; after all they are the nations favorite fruit and the original 100 calorie snack! Sometimes 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 quite often different stages of a fruits maturity have different benefits.


  • Benefits: One benefit of green bananas is the high resistant starch content.  For anyone trying to avoid food with high sugar content, green bananas are an option whereas yellow bananas are not.  So those suffering from Type 2 Diabetes can eat the unripe fruit while maybe ripened bananas are not as compatible. Unripe bananas also have pro-biotic bacteria, a friendly bacterium that helps with good colon health.  In addition, green bananas also help you absorb nutrients better, particularly calcium.
  • Drawbacks: Because antioxidant levels actually INCREASE as a banana ages, unripe bananas are lower in this category.  Also green bananas may cause some bloating and gas due to the higher resistant starch content.


  • 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. One interesting fact about fully ripened bananas is that they produce a substance called TNF (Tumor Necrosis Factor).  This means that ripe bananas have anti-cancer qualities as they combat abnormal cells.  The more dark patches a banana has, the higher its immunity enhancement quality will be.
  • Drawbacks: Studies show that there is SOME MICRONUTRIENT LOSS that happens as a banana ripens.  To lessen the amount of vitamins and minerals lost, its better to store and ripen bananas in the refrigerator.   Also the high sugar content makes ripe bananas something Type 2 Diabetics should avoid.

The Bottom Line: There are benefits on both sides.  You could eat unripened bananas or ripened bananas and get the benefits of either one.  The only difference is that for Type 2 Diabetics and anyone trying to avoid excess sugar.


A ripe banana contains a high concentration of dietary fiber, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B-6 and antioxidant compounds. The Harvard School of Public Health reports that a diet rich in the nutrients provided by produce like bananas can decrease your risk of a number of medical problems. Avoid eating bananas if you are allergic to latex. Bananas contain some of the same proteins as latex and may provoke a severe reaction. Get immediate medical help if you develop hives, facial swelling or difficulty swallowing after eating bananas.

Dietary Fiber

An adult following a 2,000-calorie diet needs between 25 to 35 grams of dietary fiber daily, and a medium-sized, ripe banana provides 12 percent of this requirement. Bananas contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber, which is not broken down during digestion, promotes digestive system health. A high intake of soluble fiber may lessen your risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. Eating plenty of fiber-rich foods like bananas may also help prevent stroke, obesity, heart disease and hypertension.

Vitamin C

A medium-sized banana provides about 15 percent of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommended daily allowance of vitamin C for adults. Adequate vitamin C ensures the health of your skin and bones and may decrease your risk of cancer, heart disease, osteoarthritis and age-related macular degeneration. The amount of vitamin C in a ripe banana will decrease the longer the fruit is exposed to light, heat and air. Store ripe bananas for no longer than three to four days after purchasing them in a cool, dark location.

Vitamin B-6

A cup of ripe banana slices contains 0.55 milligram of vitamin B-6, or 42 percent of the amount of vitamin B-6 an adult needs daily. Vitamin B-6, also known as pyridoxine, aids in energy metabolism and the synthesis of crucial neurotransmitters and hormones like serotonin and melatonin. Consuming enough vitamin B-6 regularly from foods like bananas may make you less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, depression and heart disease.


Ripe bananas fulfill 11 percent of the RDA of potassium in every cup of sliced fruit. Potassium is a mineral and an electrolyte. It is required for the development and maintenance of strong bones and teeth and, along with sodium, regulates the cellular membrane potential that allows muscles to contract and neurons to transmit electrical impulses. A diet that includes a high intake of potassium may help prevent kidney stones, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and stroke.


Ripe bananas contain a slightly higher concentration of antioxidant compounds than unripe bananas, says David L. Katz, M.D. Antioxidants are able to inhibit free radicals from damaging DNA and cellular tissue, and a diet rich in a variety of antioxidants may be instrumental in preventing cancer, heart disease, diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. A 2008 study published in the medical journal “Fitoterapia” found that bananas had a high concentration of the antioxidants catalase, superoxide dismutase and glutathione.