Bananas are the most popular fresh fruit in the United States – and for good reason. They’re portable, tasty, and packed with nutrients like potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, magnesium, copper, and fiber. But the question of fruit nutrition, especially how much sugar is in a banana, leaves many stumped.
Each medium banana provides 105 calories and 27 grams of carbohydrates, including about 14 grams of fructose. It’s that sugar — found naturally in bananas — that makes some people question whether they should swap out this beloved fruit. But before you dive into bananas, let’s take a closer look at their nutritional content.
How many grams of sugar are in a banana?
The amount of sugar depends on the size of the fruit:
- A medium banana contains 14.4 grams of sugar
- An extra large banana contains 18.6 grams of sugar
- An extra-small banana contains 9.9 grams of sugar
All of this sugar is naturally occurring — so don’t combine it with the processed sugar found in regular sodas, cakes, and candy. Fruit sugar is “better than any refined sugar because it’s a whole food that comes with nutrients and fiber, which help regulate blood sugar,” says Kerry Glassman, MS, RD, CDN. That doesn’t mean you can eat fruit all day — it’s still possible to overeat, Glassman notes — but our bodies are better equipped to handle the natural sugars in bananas and other types of fruit.
“We shouldn’t no Bananas are there because they have sugar in them,” adds Andrea N. Giancoli, MPH, RD, Registered Dietitian “That’s how we’re aiming to keep sugar in the food — versus the added sugar that’s often found in ultra-processed foods. Don’t skip fruit because it contains natural sugars. It should be a part of a healthy diet.”
Bananas “Bananas contain a lot of different nutrients that our bodies are designed to digest and use,” Giancoli says. Bananas can be a good source of potassium, a “nutrient of concern” (aka a nutrient we don’t get enough of), according to the USDA 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
A large banana contains 487 mg of potassium. Although a medium potato contains 905 milligrams of the essential mineral, “Americans eat a lot of bananas so they provide a meaningful amount of potassium in our diet,” Giancoli explains.
Are ripe bananas high in sugar?
If you’ve ever eaten a slightly green banana or a brown and mushy banana, you know that there is a difference in the taste of bananas based on their color. This is due to the natural ripening process.
“As bananas ripen, some of their starch turns to sugar,” Giancoli says. “The riper it is, the more sugar it has and the less resistant starch you get, and the more pectin you get.”
But, he reiterates that it’s important to remember that they’re naturally occurring sugars — and that fruit sugar isn’t “bad” for you. If you like the taste and texture of bananas when they are less ripe, eat them when they are a little green. But if you like them sweet and soft, there’s no reason to skip a ripe banana as part of your healthy diet. You can even use ripe bananas instead of added sugars in foods like yogurt, oatmeal, and baked goods.
“When you’re in need of a sweet treat, cut half off, let it thaw for a minute, mix it up—and get ready for innocent custardy goodness,” says Michele Pramoulaiko, author of Sugar free 3. “I also like to mix fresh slices with peanut butter.”
Is it right to eat bananas for diabetics?
“Bananas can definitely be part of a healthy diet for people trying to control their blood sugar,” says Giancoli. “They’re not as high on the glycemic index because of the resistant starch and pectin that dampen blood sugar spikes.”
First and foremost, if you have diabetes or are pre-diabetic, you should follow your health care provider’s instructions regarding diet, but in most cases, people with diabetes should “eat a healthy diet that includes fruits like bananas – if they A fruit is what they like to eat, Giancoli said.
Which fruit has the most sugar?
Dates are the sweetest fruit, Giancoli said. One Medjool date contains 16 grams of sugar.
Although a single date contains the same amount of sugar as a banana, “you get a lot more from a banana, including a lot more,” he adds. “A banana is relatively more nutrient-dense than a date.”
Which fruit has the least sugar?
Conversely, grapes score the lowest among fruits on the glycemic index, followed by peaches. Technically, raw (green) jackfruit contains less than 2 grams of sugar per 100-gram serving, but it is not commonly eaten as fruit (but as a vegetarian meat swap). However, when a jackfruit is ripe, it contains about 10 times more sugar at 19 grams per 100-gram serving.