It's hard to imagine why anyone would disparage the simple banana. After all, they're tasty, versatile, and a good source of fiber, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins like B6 and C. But recently, dietitian-nutritionist Jennifer Cholewka, RD, CNSC, CDCES, CDN has been hearing people say that bananas are a surefire way to derail a weight loss plan. The reason? Apparently, the popular fruit is "too sugary." While it's true that bananas have 15 grams of sugar, Cholewka takes issue with the idea that a banana's sugar content is a problem in some way. "Whether you're trying to achieve weight loss or [improve your] overall health, increasing your fruit and vegetable intake is always a good strategy," she says.
In fact, Cholewka considers bananas a near-perfect post-workout snack. They can help replenish the potassium (which is an electrolyte) that you lose when you workout, she explains. The yellow fruit is also a "simple carbohydrate," according to the dietitian. In other words, a banana's natural sugars are actually a type of easily digestible carb that helps to give the body a boost of energy. Another plus: bananas contain satiating fiber, to keep you fuller for longer, Cholewka says. "For this reason, they can be a great snack on the go or before a workout," she notes.
While the dietitian expresses that the fruit makes a great standalone snack, Cholewka's preferred method of folding bananas into a meal plan is to pair it with foods that are "rich in healthy fats and protein, such as a handful of walnuts, or a spoonful of nut butter" to prolong the feeling of being full, so that you're not "overeating at meals or over snacking." You can eat the ingredients separately — banana, then nuts — or throw them all into a blender with berries, oat milk, or avocados for a great smoothie. Or freeze your bananas first, then blend them with a spoonful of nut butter and, if you like chocolate, some cocoa powder, to make "banana whip," which has the texture of soft-serve ice cream, Cholewka suggests.
The bottom line: while Cholewka says that it's best to eat bananas (and most things) in moderation, she stresses that there's nothing about the fruit that makes it particularly "bad" — and, frankly, the same goes for any food. "Demonizing or idolizing any food can be dangerous because this encourages a relationship with food that is not based on hunger/fullness cues and can distort our perception of food as well as our relationship with food," Cholewka says. "It is important to incorporate healthy habits into our diet that are sustainable and remember that all foods fit. Enjoying food is part of life!"