One of the more difficult products to understand during the FODMAP diet is bananas. There is a fine line between when you can eat them, and when you can’t! So what’s the deal with FODMAP and bananas? No worries, I’ll tell you exactly how it works.
The FODMAP in bananas
If you open the Monash University FODMAP app and search for bananas. You’ll quickly notice that there are 5 different types listed. The ripe, unripe, dried bananas, and sugar banana in the ripe and unripe form. All of these have a different portion size you can eat during the FODMAP diet. To make it even more complicated, the sugar banana contains a different FODMAP from the common banana.
The ripe sugar banana contains fructose, whereas the common and dried banana both contain oligo-fructans. Depending on your food sensitivities, you can decide for yourself whether or not you will eat bananas, and which one you will choose. If you want to read more about the different FODMAP groups, check my article about the FODMAP diet.
Looking for some help during the FODMAP diet? Schedule a free IBS-symptom assessment and I’ll show you how I can help.
How much banana can you eat on the FODMAP diet?
Depending on your sensitivities, fructose or Oligo-Fructans, you can or can’t eat bananas. It all comes down to the ripeness of the banana. If a regular banana is really ripe, a.k.a. has brown spots, just stay away from it. In this case, the upper limit is 35 grams, so that’s not that much.
If a regular banana is unripe, which means: not too green, maybe a little bit of green at the top, nicely yellow, and no brown spots. Then you can eat 100 grams of it, which is a decent portion size.
Dried bananas, or banana chips, on the other hand, are also mostly a no-go. The upper limit is 30 grams, so if you really want them, you can weigh them for the right portion size.
The sugar bananas, as mentioned have a slightly different portion size. A firm sugar banana is low FODMAP up to 112 grams. And a ripe one is low FODMAP up to 56 grams. That is quite a difference!
Making sure you have the right ripeness of banana for the FODMAP diet
If you buy bananas, get 1-2 pieces to make sure they won’t ripen too much before you get the chance to eat them. It’s a waste to throw away bananas with brown spots.
One thing you can do to make sure you always have bananas is to freeze them. Buy a bunch of bananas that are exactly ripe, strip them from their peel as soon as you get home, put them in airtight containers, and freeze them. This way the bananas won’t continue to ripen and won’t get a higher FODMAP content.
As soon as you want to use the bananas, just cut the frozen banana to a 100g size, and keep the rest of the banana in the freezer for another time.
Really do make sure to get the peel off before you freeze the bananas, once they’re frozen the peel is really hard to get off! (And I speak from experience…)
This way you’ll always have bananas on hand to make a nutritious smoothie, or to make my recipe for healthy banana pancakes! Don’t let them defrost and try to eat them though! They become a sad (somewhat slimy) mess if they have been frozen before!
For more FODMAP tips and a personalized diet plan: Schedule a free IBS-symptom assessment and I’ll show you how I can help.
What if the banana grows brown in your bag?
I think everyone recognizes this, in the morning you have a perfectly yellow banana, no brown spots, and it looks so appetizing! So you decide to take it with you for later in the day. You put the banana in your bag, and in the afternoon you want to eat it. You take it out of your bag and are unpleasantly surprised! The banana is completely covered in brown spots now! How did that happen? And can you still eat it on the FODMAP diet?
A banana can grow brown when it’s ripening, but can also grow brown as a result of pressure from the outside. We just found out that a ripened banana is a no-go on the FODMAP diet. But are the brown spots that the banana gets in your bag the same as the brown spots when it ripens?
According to Ernst Woltering, a professor of product physiology at Wageningen University, the browning reaction is the same in both cases. The banana browns when certain enzymes in the banana come in contact with each other. When the banana is unripe and doesn’t get damaged, these enzymes are separated by cell membranes. Once the banana ripens or gets damaged, these membranes grow weak or get damaged and the enzymes come in contact with each other. Causing the banana to go brown.
The browning in your bag has nothing to do with the ripening of the banana but is a result of the reaction described above. On the FODMAP diet, you can’t eat a brown banana because of the ripening process. The ripening causes the long-chain carbohydrates to break down into shorter-chain carbohydrates, and some of these shorter-chain carbohydrates will be fructans. Nonetheless, I would not advise you to eat the brown banana from your bag since the enzymes that come free when the banana is growing brown can also promote the ripening of the banana. In the end, you won’t know if the spot is brown from damage or from ripening. Better to be safe than sorry!
When you do want to take a banana with you during the day, buy yourself a banana container to keep your banana safe in your bag. That’s an easy way to have a healthy and FODMAP-friendly snack and some peace of mind about it. Do make sure to keep to the recommended portion sizes mentioned above!
How About Plantain?
Plantain is a completely different story from a regular banana. And good news! Plantain is low FODMAP and can be eaten freely. So if you want to bake or use a banana in a recipe, grab the plantain! A plantain tastes slightly different from a regular banana and is not as tasty when it’s raw. But in baking, it’s a great replacement for the regular banana.
Have you been eating bananas during the FODMAP diet? Do you ever take them with you in your bag? Tell me what your experience is!