Type 2 diabetes and healthy eating: are bananas good for you?

One food that many people with type 2 diabetes avoid is the banana, as it is believed to be high in sugar and calories and as such a fruit to be avoided. This, however, is not necessarily the case. The fact is that the banana can be a very healthy food to include in the diet of any diabetic for several reasons. The most important thing to remember is to pair it with either a protein source or a fat source. Adding protein will slow down the release of sugar into your bloodstream, ensuring you don’t get the sugar spike you otherwise would.

Here’s why bananas are not food to fear…

1. Controlled calories. First, bananas are a relatively low-calorie food, contrary to popular belief. A medium banana contains around 90 to 100 calories, and a large banana has slightly more. Compare this to other foods you might be eating, a few slices of bread or a bagel, and it’s pretty low in calories.

2. Rich in dietary fiber. Bananas are rich in dietary fiber. Fiber is the indigestible portion of food that a person with type 2 diabetes needs to help regulate their blood sugar and help prevent spikes.

When you combine this fruit with a protein or fat, you get the fat/protein-fiber combination useful for keeping your blood sugar in check.

Dietary fiber is also vital for maintaining a feeling of fullness throughout the day and for regulating bowel movements.

3. Loaded with potassium. The next cool point about bananas? They are high in potassium – This is important because potassium will help offset any sodium you may be taking in from your diet, which can lead to increased blood pressure readings.

The more potassium you have in your diet, generally speaking, the less risk you have for heart health problems. Most people need to include more potassium in their diet and less sodium. Bananas help you do just that.

People who are taking beta blockers…

  • propranolol (Inderal LA, InnoPran XL),

  • atenolol (Tenormin),

  • metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol-XL),

They are not advised to suddenly increase their intake of bananas. Check with your doctor beforehand, as potassium-rich foods should be eaten in moderation when beta-blockers are prescribed.

4. Ideal for before exercise. Finally, bananas are an ideal pre-workout food. Eat them before you hit the gym and you’ll have a fast-acting powerhouse that won’t fizzle out within 20 minutes of your session. This is because they contain a good mix of complex carbohydrates (starch) with simple sugars, which is exactly what your body needs.

Keep these points in mind and consider buying a banana the next time you go shopping. They really can be part of the diet of any type 2 diabetic.