It’s recommended to eat lots of fruit and vegetables during pregnancy, so are bananas a good option?
Bananas are safe and healthy while you’re expecting and are loaded with potassium vitamin C and more nutritional goodness.
So is there anything you should avoid? And are there better ways of eating bananas than others when you’re pregnant? I’ll walk you through any safety concerns and give tasty healthy ideas to enjoy more bananas during pregnancy.
Are Bananas Good for Pregnancy?
Bananas are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals and contain no fat.
One medium banana contains approximately 110 calories, 1 gram of protein and 28 grams of protein. A banana of this size will also contain 3 grams of fiber and 15 grams of sugar (source: Harvard).
On average, bananas have 422 mg of potassium which is around 12% of the recommended daily amount. Potassium is important for maintaining nerve function and helping muscles contract. It also helps to maintain a regular health beat and move nutrients in and out of cells (source: Medline).
During pregnancy, potassium may reduce the risk of cardiovascular issues and bone loss (source: Oxford Medicine).
A banana will also provide 17% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C (source: Nutritionix). Consuming substantial amounts of vitamin C during pregnancy is associated with a reduced risk of pre-eclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction (source: Cochrane).
Vitamin C during pregnancy has been linked with reducing the risk of anemia (Source: CSR).
Are All Bananas Safe to Eat When Pregnant?
All bananas are considered safe while pregnant. The real issue is that some are more difficult to eat due to large seeds.
There are believed to be more than 1,000 kinds of bananas! To make things easier, they’re split into 50 groups. For the sake of brevity, we’ll focus on the most common.
Cavendish bananas are the most common bananas. There are the long slender yellow ones found in most grocery stores.
Ladyfinger bananas are smaller and sweeter than Cavendish. 100 grams of these bananas contain 89 calories and 27.5 grams of sugar. One large banana will provide 602 mg of potassium which is more than the Cavendish banana.
100 grams of this banana contains 123 I.U of vitamin A, which is around 5.3% of the recommended daily amount (source: Homefresh Organics).
Vitamin A is integral for maintaining reproductive organs, strengthening the immune system, protecting the skin, maintaining epithelial tissue as well as bone, skin, and teeth development (source: Nutrients)
One red banana contains 93.6 calories. A serving of this size also provides 384.8mg of potassium which is 11% of the recommended daily amount. One banana contains 30% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin B6, 17% of your vitamin C requirements and 8% of vitamin A (source: Fitday).
Latundan bananas are also known as Tundan, silk bananas, Pisang raja, Manzana bananas, or apple bananas. They are small and usually used to make banana fritters as a dessert in Asian restaurants. One of these bananas contains 46 calories.
One banana contains 198 mg of potassium. It will also provide 64 % of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A and 10% of your vitamin C needs (source: myfitnesspal).
Are Green Bananas Safe During Pregnancy?
There is nothing to say that green unripe bananas are unsafe during pregnancy, or at any time.
As long as good food safety has been practiced, there’s no reason why you should avoid green bananas while you’re expecting. As always, pre-cut fruit salad is not recommended during pregnancy.
However, you might experience some digestive discomfort. Green bananas contain more resistant starch, but they do contain more fiber than a ripe banana (source: MyFitnessPal). One medium green banana contains 6 grams of starch, while a ripe banana contains 3 grams (source: MyFitnessPal)
Green bananas also contain less sugar. One medium green banana has 6 grams of sugar, while a ripe one contains 14 grams!
Ripe bananas come out on top in terms of vitamins and minerals, as there is more calcium and potassium, and vitamin A. However, unripe green bananas seem to have more iron, which is important for preventing anemia during pregnancy.
Are All Banana Dishes Safe?
Whether banana dishes are safe depends on other ingredients, or how they are prepared, rather than the banana itself.
For example, bananas foster might be a dish you want to avoid, due to its alcohol (rum) content. Banana dishes like this should be avoided or made with minimal amounts of rum.
If you’re going to have deep-fried bananas (like fritters), then these are best eaten in moderation as they’re high in sugar and calories.
How Many Bananas Can I Eat a Day When Pregnant?
There is no concrete number for how many bananas you should or should not eat a day. But generally, one or two is a good maximum amount, due to the high amount of potassium.
It’s recommended to eat at least five servings of fruit or vegetables a day. However, five bananas a day is not ideal. It’s best to eat a wide range of fruit or vegetables to avoid any nutritional deficiencies.
The big concern is overconsuming too much potassium. Too much potassium can cause Hyperkalemia. Hyperkalemia can cause irregular heartbeat and chest pain, cramps, diarrhea, muscle weakness, nausea and vomiting.
It is most common in people with kidney issues, the elderly and people with type one diabetes. However, it can happen to anyone (source: National Institutes of Health) and is best avoided during pregnancy. You can, however, enjoy bananas almost every day if you wish, so you can take advantage of their many benefits.
Are Bananas OK in the First Trimester?
There is nothing to say that green bananas should not be consumed during the first trimester.
As some people seem to experience digestive discomfort after consuming unripe bananas, it’s probably not the best time to start eating them if you’re already experiencing nausea and morning sickness.
Can Bananas Help with Cramp When Pregnant?
Cramps are not uncommon during pregnancy, especially leg cramps. There are a lot of anecdotes about bananas helping.
In some cases, being deficient in some B vitamins, vitamin D, magnesium and other nutrients may increase the risk of getting cramps. While studies have suggested that muscle cramps can be aided with potassium, sodium and magnesium (source: Nutrients).
So it makes sense that bananas being a rich source of these vitamins and minerals would ease the issue. However, this is anecdotal and there aren’t many studies into bananas specifically relieving cramp.
Do Bananas Help Pregnancy Nausea or Heartburn?
As bananas are a low acid food, they have been linked with alleviating and reducing heartburn and reflux (source: Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology). Some suspect that bananas and low-acid fruit help by coating esophageal lining which may be irritated.
Bananas are one of the many foods you can use to combat nausea during pregnancy. Click here to see the full list of foods.
Bananas are also a good source of fiber with the amount of pectin increasing as the banana ripens. Unripened bananas are a good source of resistant starch. Resistant starch has been associated with benefiting gut bacteria and digestion (source: Physiological Reviews). Good digestive health overall can help ward off indigestion.
Healthy Ways to Enjoy Bananas During Pregnancy
Here are some pregnancy-safe ideas to enjoy bananas:
If ordering a banana milkshake in a smoothie bar, be sure to check if the dairy products were pasteurized and be wary of ordering smoothies or milkshakes made using a soft-serve machine. Read why here.
Banana chips: store-bought banana chips can be very high in sugar, fat and preservatives, depending on how they’re prepared. A 28g can contain 150 calories, 9 grams of fat and 10 grams of added sugars – on top of the existing natural sugar in bananas (source: Nutrition Data). Try unsweetened versions that are baked and not fried.
Homemade banana chips in an air fryer can be somewhat healthier with 147 calories, 6 grams of fat and 10 grams of sugar (source: myfitnesspal).
Banana toast: bananas can be enjoyed on wholemeal toast with almond butter for a nutritious, filling snack. You could also use peanut butter too, and increase your protein intake.
Chopped over greek yogurt: bananas also go well with greek yogurt and granola for breakfast or a light snack. Read our guide to the best pregnancy-safe yogurts here.
I hope you found some healthy safe ways to enjoy bananas while you’re expecting!