Healthy Hollywood: Ask Keri Glassman - Do Brown Bananas Have More Sugar?

Nutritionist Keri Glassman, who regularly shares her expertise on Access Hollywood and Access Hollywood Live, is answering your nutrition, diet, and health questions.

Want to know which foods to curb sugar cravings? Or, what should you eat before a workout? Ask Keri anything!

Keri will choose one great question a week to be answered Thursday in our Healthy Hollywood column.

To submit questions for Keri, click HERE!

This week’s question – “Why do brown bananas taste sweeter than the yellowish green ones — do they have more sugar and calories?” – Ellie D., Birmingham, Ala.

Keri says…

Brown bananas — some people love ‘em and others just toss ‘em. You don’t have to be a banana connoisseur to know that the browner the banana, the sweeter it is and conversely the greener the banana the more bitter.

Which raises the question, as with all things sweet, do they contain more calories?

The Brown Science:
Bananas are unlike most other fruit in that they are given even less time on the tree to ripen and plucked when they are still brightly green. Even with their protective yellow jacket, bananas are extremely fragile when they are ripe. When they are green, they are firmer and less likely to get damaged during their travels from farm to market. This means that they ripen in transit, or sometimes right in your kitchen, which is when they emit a plant hormone called ethylene. Ethylene increases the rate of the ripening enzymes responsible for its texture, flavor, and color. In fact, ethylene is so strong that it can actually increase the ripening process of other fruit that crosses its path. It all comes down to the magic of ethylene which turn your green, bitter, firm banana, into the yellow, sweet, and creamy kind we, well… go bananas for.

Sweet News About Calories:
Now we can get to the question on everyone’s mind: Do the riper, sweeter bananas have more calories? The answer is no! One medium banana will typically have about 105 calories, whether it is as green as the grass or as brown as the dirt. The difference is in the type of carbohydrate — the sweet bananas have more sugar while the green bananas have more starch. Both sugars and starches are carbohydrates which have four calories per gram. All shades of bananas have 3 grams of fiber, which slows digestion and in turn, helps control blood sugar. Bottom line: go for whichever banana makes you happy!

Beat the Brown:
Ever buy a bunch of green bananas and then two days later the bunch went brown? Here are a few ways to beat the brown. Try these tips to slow down the ripening process of bananas, so you can enjoy them before they go completely soft.

- Cool Your Banana — Keep the taste of a perfect yellow banana for a few extra days by placing it, peel and all, in the fridge. While this will turn them completely brown within a few hours, don’t judge your banana by its color! The fridge protects the inside of your banana, so it will taste and feel like it came from a yellow peel.

- Make Banana Pops — Nothing puts a stop to the ripening process quite like your freezer. Peel and place your bananas in a plastic bag and toss them in the freezer. Not only have you created your own method of preservation, but you have created a new version of an ice pop. Take this one step further and puree your frozen bananas in a blender to make banana “ice cream.”

Embrace the Brown Side:
If you don’t have a big enough sweet tooth to eat your brown bananas straight up, don’t let them go to waste. Salvage your bananas with these few recipes:

- Bake a Cake — Not only will you avoid wasting perfectly good bananas, but you can cut the fat from your favorite cake recipe and boost its nutrient content. Substitute pureed bananas for the oil in your recipe. This will keep your cake thick and doughy without compromising flavor. This works with pancakes and muffins as well.

- Make a Smoothie --The thick and creamy texture of bananas make them the perfect ingredient for a decadent and nutritious smoothie.

- Chips, Anyone? Banana chips at the store usually have added fat and sugar, not to mention are more expensive than the fresh ones. Slice up your bananas, place them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, and bake them in the oven. Now you have a cost friendly, nutritious, and portable way to enjoy bananas all day, any day.

-- Terri MacLeod & Keri Glassman

Copyright 2014 by NBC Universal, Inc. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.