Healthy Body

How to Know Which Bananas Give You Constipation and Which, Uh, Definitely Don’t

Photo: Getty Images/Obradovic
There's one simple way to know if it's time to back off on the bananas for a bit. And nope, it's not having a freezer jam-packed with loaf upon loaf of banana bread or being that person who buys them by the boxful at Whole Foods. It's actually what's going on with your bowel movements... or lack thereof. Yep, buckle up. We're going there.

Plenty of different types of food cause constipation. Some aren't too surprising, like red meat and fried foods. But then there are the seemingly healthy staples that can cause issues in the bathroom too, and one of the prime culprits is the beloved banana. While bananas are packed with nutrients—like potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B6—Max Lugavere, the health and nutrition expert behind Genius Foods, says they can also have a major downside depending on which stage of ripeness you're into.

What each stage of a banana's lifestyle means for your body

1. Green

There are three parts of a banana's life cycle: green, yellow, and brown. When they're green—or unripe—they're a great source of prebiotics. Unfortunately, because they contain the highest amount of hard-to-digest starch at the time, they can leave you very constipated.

2. Yellow

As the banana ripens and turns yellow, it's sweeter, contains a higher amount of antioxidants, and digests more quickly. Yellow bananas also contain soluble fiber that supports your digestion instead of slowing it down, finally helping you poop (or simply stay consistent).

3. Brown

So what about brown bananas? They're easy to digest as well, meaning your banana bread obsession is totally A-okay. And extra bonus: They're also at their sweetest and contain the highest antioxidant levels. When it comes down to it, you can still eat as much of the fruit as you want. But if you want to stay regular—and I know you know what I mean by regular—avoid the green guys at all costs.

 

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Here's our best healthy banana bread recipe:

One major gut-friendly benefit bananas bring: fiber

As long as your banana isn't too green it can work in your digestion's favor, but the reason why extends beyond color. One banana has about three grams of fiber, and fiber is directly linked to benefitting the gut. While not all fibruous foods are easy to digest, the fruit's soft texture makes it relatively easy on the stomach. This makes it a good food pick for when you're not feeling well or are looking for a pre-bedtime snack that your body won't keep you up digesting later.

Bananas are definitely a gut-healthy food, but it's important to consider the color of your fruit. Too green and it just might work against you. This is one case where yellow means go and green means slow down. And if that sucker is brown, save it for your banana bread—it's still safe to eat.

Originally posted October 8, 2019. Updated October 23, 2020.

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