There are several varieties of banana in the markeplace; they differ at varying levels or stages of ripeness and contain different FODMAP (short chain carbohydrates that are poorly or partially absorbed in the small intestine) levels and are completely safe to eat. Two types of banana have been subjected to testing: the common banana and the sugar banana (lady fingers).
The most common type of banana all over is Cavendish bananas. These bananas are known and marketed by different names – Grande Nain, William and Valery. The common banana is available in the market in a range of sizes: medium to large, and are quite larger than the sugar banana. Unripe bananas usually have green skins that change to yellow when it ripens.
Is the Common Banana low FODMAP?
The FODMAP level is quite low for a serving size of 100g of unripe common bananas, whereas ripe common bananas are high FODMAP and high in fructans. However, you will find it quite manageable for a small serving of 30gm. When the common banana ripens the starch present is converted into different types of sugar (fructose, sucrose and glucose) and fructans tend to increase. The overripe nature of the bananas is, more often than not, attributed to fructose. On the other hand, a fully ripe banana (yellowish with some brown spots) is 20% glucose, 14% fructose and 66% sucrose. Research shows that a common banana that is ripe has glucose and fructose ratio in correct proportions. This means our symptoms are triggered by the fructan levels. A large common banana can weigh more than 100g, therefore ensure you either pick a small-/medium-sized bananas or divide the banana into two equal serves.
Sugar Bananas are known by different names such as Fig bananas, Lady Fingers, Sucrier bananas or Date bananas, and Finger banana. Sugar Bananas are generally 2.5cm in diameter and 10cm long (fatter and shorter than the common banana). The skin of sugar banana is thin and the fruit tastes sweeter than the common banana variety. Initially green, the fruit turns yellow as they ripen. It is easy to identify a full ripe sugar banana from a semi-ripe one just by the skin colour. When it ripens the sugar banana type turns green to yellow colour.
Is the Sugar Banana low FODMAP?
A medium-sized firm sugar banana weighs 112g and is low FODMAP, according to a research paper published by Monash Univeristy. However as the sugar bananas ripen the FODMAP status changes. From the same report it is seen that ripe sugar banana has excess fructose and is FODMAP-friendly with increased levels of fructans. Whatever, one should avoid ripe sugar bananas in large serves as they are exceptionally high FODMAP. Any serve that is 56g or less of sugar banana is tagged low FODMAP.
Just remember that unripe (firm) banana, be it sugar banana or Cavendish banana, is safe with low FODMAP levels. Avoid large serves of ripe bananas due to increased FODMAP levels.