Why You Should Think Twice Before Eating Green Bananas

If you've ever gotten impatient while waiting for a banana to ripen and bitten into it while it was still green, you probably realized quickly that they taste pretty different from the yellow ones. And not necessarily in a good way. Instead of a soft, sweet treat, you end up with a mouthful of bitter, hard fruit. But what are the other big differences between green and yellow bananas besides taste? Some of them might surprise you.

Grocery stores often stock green bananas because they arrive unripe. They are grown far away from most of the markets in which they're sold, so picking and shipping them when they aren't ripe increases the chances of the bananas making it to your home before they go bad (via Healthline). Bananas begin to release the plant hormone ethylene which causes the starches in them to start to turn into sugars and prompts the green banana to turn yellow.

Too much of a good thing?

Green bananas can be 80% starch by weight. These starches have an unpleasant taste and texture to many people. As those starches convert to sugars, those numbers go down until the amount of starch in a ripe banana is less than 1%. These bananas can also be a good snack for people with Type 2 diabetes, as they have a low glycemic index.

But perhaps one of the biggest things to watch out for when eating green bananas is digestive issues. The resistant starch that makes up a green banana is a good source of dietary fiber because it is hard for humans to digest. Green bananas also contain a lot of pectin, which is one of the reasons they remain so hard until they ripen. Pectin is another type of dietary fiber (via Nature). Both resistant starch and pectin may cause digestive distress in certain people. Yet there is also promising research that shows that dietary fibers like pectin may actually improve gut health. 

So whether your banana is green or yellow, you're getting a convenient snack that's full of nutrients that your body needs. Just be on the lookout for discomfort or an upset tummy, and if you do experience any issues, just know you may have to wait until those bananas turn a pretty yellow color to eat them.