Although we usually wait for bananas to ripen and enjoy as a naturally sweet treat, it turns out unripe green bananas pack plenty of health benefits! Green bananas can help keep our blood sugar in check, maintain gut health, and curb excessive eating.
If bananas aren’t at their peak when we first buy them, we usually let them sit on the counter for a couple days until the bright yellow hue appears. But by then, most of the banana’s resistant starch (RS) has turned into sugar and can cause blood glucose to spike. Don’t worry, we’re not asking you to peel an unripe banana and just pop into your mouth like you normally would. But cooking and eating them when they’re still green and starchy — which gives them a more savory flavor — will give you some major health benefits, and might even spice up your cooking routine a bit too!
“When your body has to break down the starch itself (as it does when you eat a green banana), your blood sugar rises more slowly,” David L. Katz, MD, shared with Oprah.com. The slower digestion and absorption rate makes green bananas a perfect diabetic-friendly dish. The RS and fiber content breaking down gradually will also help you feel fuller for longer, eliminating unnecessary snacking and possible weight gain.
Unripe bananas are also a great source of prebiotics. According to Healthline, the high starch content helps feed good bacteria in your gut, which promotes a healthy immune system and digestive tract.
Now that you know all the perks, you’re probably wondering how to prepare green bananas so you can get those benefits. The experts at Delish suggest cooking them like plantains or potatoes: mashed, fried, or added to a stew.
Of course, whichever level of ripeness you choose, there’s no denying bananas are a yummy and healthy snack to enjoy any time of the day!
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.