Banana: cause or cure for constipation?

Bananas are high in potassium, vitamin B6 and magnesium. But some of us avoid them because of digestion problems. You’ll hear different expiriences, as some people say it can fasten their metabolism, and some that can’t empty their stomach for days.

So, what is going on with those bananas?

Before reading the next text, think about how do you like bananas, little greeny, yellow or with brown edges? It does matter.

Ripening is an ongoing process that begins on the banana plant when the mature fruit appears completely green and ends right before the banana starts to ferment and be broken down.

However, a banana eaten at one end of its ripening transformation can have a radically different composition than one eaten at the other.

At the begining of the ripening bananas are primarily starch-based carbohydrate source and at the top point they are simple-sugar-based carbohydrate source.

Starch to sugar: ripening of banana

  • A green banana with some yellow is 80% starch and 7% sugar. 
  • A mostly yellow banana is 25% starch and 65% sugar.


  • A spotted and specked banana is 5% starch and 90% sugar.


Starch is significantly harder for the body to digest and break down than sugar. Sugar is digested and assimilated very quickly. Don’t worry, the simple sugars in fruit, such as natural unprocessed fructose, are not bad for you.

Another factor is that as bananas ripen they produce ethylene gas, which causes the production an enzyme called pectinase.

Pectinase breaks down the pectin between the cells of a banana, leaving it considerably soften and easier for the body to digest.

In our bodies, pectin increases the volume and viscosity of stools. Viscosity measures the resistance of a fluid to deformation. Basically, the less viscous your substance is, the easier its movements are .

So you can imagine that an unripe, pectin-laden banana really gums things up, causing constipation.

Pectin isn’t bad for us, but we should be eating it in the small quantities found in ripe fruit.

Ideally, you shouldn’t eat them before they’ve got the first brown spots on them.

Generally, you don’t want any green on your bananas, but occasionally you’ll find peels that have a bit of green yet have started to develop spots.

These are often fine to eat.


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