Going sugar-free doesn’t mean you have to give up sweets!! You heard me right, and I will say it again, just because you are opting for a processed sugar-free life does not mean you have to give up on enjoying a sweet treat.
People often ask me what all-natural sweeteners can they use in their sugar-free lifestyle? Bananas are definitely one of those! Bananas are loaded with nutrients and can provide you with that “sweet fix” that you need.
Continue reading for all things bananas, as well as great advice on how to eat and how to bake with bananas.
To be honest, that’s why I started this whole idea for my blog, I wanted to help others out there figure out what works and what to stay away from, the sugar-free diet world is FULL of bait and switch.
First things first: What is a banana?
Seems like a silly question, until you really sit and think about it. “Yeah, what really even is a banana?” They don’t contain seeds, or do they?
Well, as it turns out, bananas seem to make up a little bit of everything. They are a fruit, a berry, and an herb. “An herb? No way!” Yes, way!
A banana plant actually forms from a pseudostem or a “false stem”. A pseudostem is tightly packed overlying leaf sheaths…think onion-like.
Because of this pseudostem, it is considered an herb. Fruit grow from wood stems (hard stems) like apple stems.
Though the banana plant is more of an herb, the banana itself is a fruit because it does contain seeds.
Yes, those very tiny and soft brown spots in the middle of the banana are seeds, albeit not useable seeds.
Unfortunately, because of cultivation over the years, the seeds have been gradually reduced to barely existent.
The berry part comes in because bananas develop from a flower containing one single ovary and contain many small seeds.
Therefore a banana is in fact a berry. What we think are actually berries are not berries at all. Strawberries—> are not a berry; blackberries—> arenot a berry; raspberries—> are also, not a berry.
Oh my, my mind has a hard time processing this one. It suddenly feels like everything I once knew is wrong. You can read more about what actually is a berry here.
Now that we know more about what bananas actually are, let’s move on the what I think is the most important question…
What kind of banana-eater are you?
The very important question here is….are you a still-green kind of banana eater, an all-yellow banana eater, or a must-need brown spots kind of banana eater?
This seems like a silly question, but it does matter. Depending on which banana eater you will get more or fewer benefits from it. Read on, I will explain.
Nutrients in bananas
Bananas are jam-packed with healthy nutrients. Most of us know that they are full of potassium. But did you also know that they are loaded with fiber?
They are also high in vitamin B and C, and antioxidants.
Potassium is a much-needed electrolyte that our body needs to function properly.
It helps our muscles and nerves work properly, helps our hearts to contract properly, and helps move nutrients into our cells while moving waste out of our cells.
One medium-sized banana contains about 420mg of potassium.
The recommended dose is 4,700mg per day for the average person and according to research, a lot of people do not get near that daily amount. So eat that banana…but continue reading for the best way to eat that banana!
All of these nutrients are great and much needed, but the main one I want to discuss is fiber. Fiber helps moderate the rise in blood sugar.
So that means that even though bananas contain a fair amount of natural sugar, you won’t get the insulin spike you would get from processed sugars. Which means they also have a lower glycemic index.
The only caveat to this is overly-ripened bananas. Unfortunately, the riper the banana the less starch and more sugars it contains.
This also means it can have more of a negative impact when it comes to the glycemic index (think more of a spike in insulin).
How to eat bananas with your sugar-free lifestyle
Bananas are loaded with heart-healthy nutrients and can be a great way to satiate that sweet tooth of yours.
I would just monitor when and what you are eating with them, especially if your banana is on the riper side. But, I am going to be real here for a second, green bananas are gross…right?! I’m an all-yellow kind of banana eater.
No worries though, one great way you can better manage the higher natural sugar content in those better-tasting, riper bananas is to eat it with nut butter.
Of course, my favorite is all-natural peanut butter, but you could use almond butter or cashew butter sounds yummy, too! Just make sure the nut butter does not contain sugar. They often do.
Not to worry, though, you can find examples of sugar-free nut butter on my Sugar-Free Grocery List here.
The protein and fats in nut butter help balance out the higher sugar content in bananas, resulting in slower absorption and sustained energy.
Because of this, a banana with peanut butter is a really great snack. I regularly use this combo as a pre-workout or post-workout snack, too!
Baking with bananas
When I use very ripe bananas to bake with, I also bake with higher protein ingredients such as Almond flour and nut butter, as well as peanut butter.
Again doing this balances out the higher sugar content in riper bananas while still giving you the sweetness your baked good needs.
I often use bananas as a supplemental sweetener in my baked good like my Fruit Sweetened Brownies (seriously you must try these!). Sometimes I even use them as the sole sweetener like my Grain-Free, Sugar-Free Banana Pancakes.
It’s all about balance
In conclusion, yes you can have bananas in a sugar-free diet! In fact, because of the high amount of potassium, I think you should eat bananas with your sugar-free lifestyle or with just about any lifestyle for that matter.
Just make sure you are balancing their consumption with healthy protein and fats. I mean it really is all about balance in life and in food!