Bananas seem to be one of Mother Nature’s greatest plant foods. But what about lectins? You know that dietary lectins can be linked to health concerns — are bananas high in lectins?
Whether you’re on a paleo diet, a keto diet, or any other kind of diet, lectins can sometimes get in the way of your health goals. You don’t want so-called diet foods to tank your efforts. This article will shed light on whether or not there is a place for bananas in a lectin-free diet.
Here is what you should know about banana lectin content compared to other fruits that may be a part of your diet.
Ask Dr. Gundry Your Diet Questions: Are Bananas High In Lectins?
Before we get too much further – know this: ripe bananas do have lectins. If you’ve read Dr. Gundry’s stance on limiting lectins, you know that you can sometimes reduce the lectin content in foods like cooked beans, kidney beans, and other legumes by pressure cooking them.
This is not the case with the ripe banana. In fact, studies show that unlike with legumes, the lectin from bananas actually grow much more potent once they are heated.1 But who wants a hot banana anyway?
So, it’s really best to avoid ripe bananas altogether. But lectins are not the only reason why. The lectins in bananas actually aren’t even the main issue.
The Real Pickle About Bananas Is: SUGAR
A single medium ripe banana contains about 14 grams of sugar. That’s a serious amount of sugar.2 It really has no place in a healthy diet, let alone a diet that limits plant lectins and fructose.
But if you love bananas, don’t worry. There are three types of fruit that you can enjoy on a lectin-friendly diet, but there’s that catch: you must eat them while they are green (meaning before they ripen). Those fruits include green papayas, green mangos and you guessed it – green bananas.
The wonderful news about these tropical fruits is that unlike citrus fruits, apples, pears, or any other kind of fruits, unripened tropical fruit has yet to increase its sugar content.
At the unripe phase, mangos, papayas, and bananas are simply resistant starches. That’s good news because your good gut bugs absolutely love to feed on resistant starches. Starches that can resist digestion — and humans don’t have the enzymes to break down resistant starches — arrive in your colon ready for fermentation by your good microbiota. 3
Luckily, this process produces nutritional materials like short-chain fatty acids. And those fatty acids are a big deal when it comes to health benefits.4
Are There Other Fruits Allowed On The Low-Lectin Diet?
There are some other fruits that can be good for you in-moderation — especially if they happen to be in season. But, like all things, not all plant-based foods are equal. There are fruits out there that do a pretty good job of helping you live your healthiest life. The avocado is one such fruit. But other fruits contain a heap of more potent, dangerous lectins and sugars.
Because they’re unprocessed, sugars in fruit are slightly better for you than table sugar, but that doesn’t mean they’re actually good for you. Fruit sugars and the juice from fruits can raise your blood sugar levels just like processed table sugar.5 So, on a low-lectin program, it’s a good idea to limit your fruit intake altogether.
Again, though, unripe tropical fruit has yet to spike its sugar content. So dig into those healthy resistant starches – but like many things, try to indulge only in moderation.
Other Plant Foods And Whole Grains To Have With Your Green Bananas At Breakfast
Now, if you’re a big breakfast person, you might be wondering what to eat if you can’t indulge daily on yellow bananas or lectin-heavy whole grains. Here’s a list of other plant foods that would make a great addition to your breakfast menu.
- Number one is always the avocado. Believe it or not, this buttery fruit only has a sugar content of one-half a gram. Plus, its mild flavor and creamy texture pair well with sweet and savory foods. Add a little bit of avocado and coconut oil (or even olive oil) to your morning smoothie. Throw in a few in-season blueberries for sweetness. You won’t believe how delicious it is. Moreover, avocados are packed with soluble fiber and good fats. It’s a great way to start your day. And you never have to limit your avocado intake on a lectin-friendly diet.
- When in season, limes and lemons are wonderful morning additions to your plate. A wedge of lemon or lime in your water can mimic the effect of drinking orange juice without the added sugar. Citrus fruits are only really allowed in moderation, though. So don’t consume them every day. But these two particular fruits are the stars of the citrus fruits camp. They offer vitamin C and other nutrients which can help you get rolling in the morning. Plus, they’re full of polyphenols like flavonoids, alkaloids, limonoids, and phenolic acids. Those polyphenols, among the others in lemons and limes, can offer antioxidative support, reduce swelling and redness, and even help protect your heart.6 But again, only enjoy lemons and limes moderately.
- Raspberries weigh in at only 5 grams of sugar in a single cup. Plus, they are chock full of fiber. A few frozen raspberries can add a tart twist to a morning smoothie or give a cup of goat yogurt an added tang.
- Figs are in season in the autumn months and though they have significant sugar content, they’re also pretty high in fiber. They’re slightly sweet, earthy, and have a grainy crunch that’s quite delightful. Add a fresh fig to your breakfast routine a couple of days a week for a different kind of morning bite.
- Coconuts are indeed wonderful plant foods to enjoy at breakfast. The meat of the coconut (and coconut oil) is bursting with healthy fats. Go ahead and cook with coconut oil or spoon out the sweet meat. You’ll be glad you did.
- Finally, it can be tough to limit whole grains at breakfast, but there are two lectin-free whole grains that are great to help you get your day started: millet and sorghum. You can use these whole grains in a variety of ways — make granola, porridge, or even use their flour to make a morning lectin-friendly green banana bread.
Green Bananas To The Breakfast Rescue
Not everybody feels they need a big breakfast to start the day. But, some mornings it’s hard to get going without loading up on the nutrients and vitamins your body craves. While ripe bananas (aka yellow bananas) are totally out of the question, green bananas are not.
The resistant starch in green bananas is great for your health. So, go ahead and slice up a green banana. You can freeze them for a nice hearty dessert too. Just make sure they’re not ripe when you do.