Bananas are a very popular and convenient fruit, but are they good for you?

Bananas are a popular go-to snack. They're delicious, convenient and accessible, but have also been the subject of controversy from time to time. Are they worthy of praise for being a good source of potassium or deserving of criticism for having too much sugar? Is it healthy to eat them daily? If so, how many?

In this article, we'll explore the evidence surrounding the health benefits of bananas and determine whether or not they can be part of a healthy diet. Here are some things you may experience if you eat bananas every day.

Pictured Recipe: Banana Oatmeal

Nutrition Information for Bananas

According to the USDA, a medium banana contains:

  • Calories: 105
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Total fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrate: 27 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Sugars: 14 g (naturally occurring sugars)
  • Potassium: 422 mg
Banana Oatmeal
Credit: Caitlin Bensel

Health Benefits of Bananas

You May Increase Your Energy

Bananas are a good source of carbs—your body's main fuel for energy production. According to a 2019 article published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology, bananas contain B vitamins such as vitamins B3, B6 and B12, which help your body synthesize energy.

Bananas can be part of a healthy meal or snack and are best utilized when paired with healthy fats and/or protein. This is because carbohydrates digest more quickly than protein or fat, so pairing a banana with a healthy fat or protein, such as a handful of almonds or a cup of Greek yogurt, will help prolong the energy the banana provides.

You May Maintain a Healthy Weight

When eaten as part of a balanced meal, bananas can help keep you satisfied longer. Feeling satisfied between meals reduces the likelihood that you'll have cravings and exceed your daily caloric needs, which over time, can contribute to weight gain.

While there is no evidence that bananas directly cause you to lose weight, they are a convenient and readily available food option that can be easily incorporated into a nutritious eating pattern to lose weight.

In fact, 2020 research published in Nutrients showed that increasing your fruit and vegetable intake is associated with greater weight-loss success. With bananas being one of the top fruits eaten regularly in the U.S., it's no surprise that they can help you with your weight-loss goals.

You May Increase Your Fiber Intake

Most American adults don't consume enough fiber each day. According to the American Society for Nutrition, less than 10% of Americans get the daily amount of 28 to 34 grams recommended by the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Medium-size bananas have about 3 grams of fiber each. Fiber is important for many reasons, including keeping bowel movements regular. Pectin, a specific type of fiber found in bananas, can help your body eliminate waste more effectively. As bananas ripen, they lose pectin content, so greener bananas are a better source, per a 2020 study published in the Journal of Food Research.

Bananas also contain a type of dietary fiber known as resistant starch, which helps feed the good bacteria in your gut. Resistant starch found in bananas helps feed the probiotic strains Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus specifically. These are important members of a healthy gut microbiome and help the body produce compounds that can aid in preventing disease.

Fiber also helps you feel full longer. Compared to other carbohydrate-forward foods that lack fiber, bananas are packed with fiber, which slows down digestion enough to make the energy last. However, it's still ideal to eat bananas along with protein or healthy fat for sustained energy.

Overall, eating bananas is an easy way to help you reach your daily recommended amount of fiber.

You May Improve Your Heart Health

Bananas are known for being a great source of potassium. One medium banana contains 9% of your daily recommended intake, per the National Institutes of Health.

Potassium is found in all body tissues and is essential for normal cell function. It is important for a healthy heart as well. The DASH diet, a protocol commonly recommended to people diagnosed with (or at risk for) heart disease, recommends getting potassium from fruits and vegetables. Bananas are a great way to help you get enough potassium each day.

Getting enough potassium in your diet may also help lower blood pressure. High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease, so eating foods containing potassium daily is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Fortunately, it's easy to incorporate bananas into foods like smoothies and overnight oats—which can also contain other fruits and whole grains that can promote heart health as well.

You May Reduce Your Risk for Chronic Disease

A lesser-known fact about bananas is that they contain phytosterols and carotenoids, both of which have antioxidant properties.

Interestingly, the 2019 article mentioned above states that "bananas have a higher antioxidant capacity than some berries, herbs and vegetables" and, therefore, can aid in reducing the harmful effects of oxidative stress on the body.

Oxidative stress can cause inflammation and damage body tissues. If this continues as you age, it can lead to chronic inflammation—a known driver of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and more, per a 2020 article in Ageing Research Reviews.

Consuming fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants can help your body have the tools it needs to help keep inflammation under control.

How Many Bananas Should You Eat per Day?

Now that you know all the ways bananas can benefit you, how many should you eat? Well, there's no blanket rule. However, sticking to 1 to 2 bananas per day shouldn't cause issues for most people. They are relatively high in carbohydrates, so eating them along with protein or fat is also advisable to support stable energy levels.

People with advanced kidney disease should limit bananas and other foods that are high in potassium to protect their kidneys and heart from damage.

Eating too many bananas (or other high-potassium foods) can cause excess potassium in the body, also called hyperkalemia. This can cause serious health problems, including heart issues. While most people wouldn't be able to stomach the number of bananas necessary to cause this to happen, it's something to be mindful of.

Bananas are best consumed the same as other healthy foods: in moderation and as part of a healthy, balanced meal or snack.

For healthy recipes using bananas, try some breakfast ideas or a Healthy Banana Bread recipe.

The Bottom Line

Bananas are a nutritious and convenient fruit. They are also a good source of potassium, antioxidants and fiber.

As part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, bananas can help reduce the risk of chronic disease, improve gut health and more.

They are easy to find and versatile to use in all sorts of foods. Bananas are great to keep on hand and can be a healthful part of your daily diet.