When I was a kid, one of my best friends had 9 siblings. I grew up in a family of 5 girls – so not a huge shock to me, until I saw them at the dinner table.
One summer evening, I went over to her house to play outside, and her family was just finishing up eating dessert. My jaw dropped as I looked at them all at the table. They were having bananas with milk for “dessert”. “YUCK! that is so not dessert, and her mom is a freak” – were some of the thoughts running through my head.
The same thing happened to me in college when I traveled to Paris for a month. My roommate would eat a banana as her snack while I ate an entire Milka chocolate bar! I couldn’t get enough of the best chocolate I’d ever tasted, and wondered how could she eat such a boring thing and deprive herself of the pleasure of this amazing chocolate (that at the time could not be bought outside Europe).
Fast forward to today, and fruit is one of the few desserts I eat, and I haven’t had a brownie, ice-cream or chocolate bar in 8 years! Let me just say, I never would have predicted that I could actually live without sugar, chocolate or dessert. Back then I was in my sugar addiction phase and dessert had to be pudding, cake, cookies, brownies, or ice-cream – the richer, the gooier , the sweeter, the better.
Yesterday, I was sitting with a client, and she asked me what I thought about bananas, not an unusual question, except for the context in which she was asking. She just heard on the news about the blue fin tuna migrating to Califormina that are contaminated with radioactive residue from Japan, and the newscaster said, “just like bananas are radioactive”.
So what’s the scoop on bananas?
Your trainer tells you to eat them before you work out,
Your kids love ‘em,
They make smoothies super creamy,
and they taste delicious with almond butter
Well, here are three reasons NOT to eat bananas:
- Bananas are mildly radioactive : this comes from the fact that they contain high amounts of potassium, specifically a radioactive isotope of potassium called Potassium-40. The amount of radiation you are exposed to by eating one banana is minimal, but if you were to eat more than one per day or eat them every single day of the year, it may be time to cut back.
- Bananas are high in sugar: Bananas have 29 grams of sugar per 100 grams, making them high in sugar compared to most fruits and more than 85 % of most foods. They are high in potassium, but better sources of potassium would be a spinach salad, baked potato with the skin, or a handful of raisins.
- Bananas are inflammatory: High glycemic foods such as bananas tend to promote inflammatory reactions in the body. If you have a chronic inflammatory condition such as arthritis, you may want to limit your consumption of bananas and adapt a more anti-inflammatory diet including consuming other types of fruit.
Once I found out I had a sensitivity or intolerance to bananas, I stopped eating them. Prior to that every time I ate bananas, I got extremely sleepy. I was also suffering from heart palpitations – which have been connected to an allergic reaction to bananas. Once I removed them from my diet, the racing irregular heart beat went away….
So, what do I think about bananas? I think eat them in moderation and find out if there is a chance you may have a delayed food allergy to them. The rules have changed – what you don’t know won’t hurt you is no longer true!