7 Red Banana Benefits (And How They Differ From Yellow Ones)

Written by Maria Zamarripa

March 8, 2019

Source: Health Line

Photo Source: Unsplash, Ovidiu Creanga

There are over 1,000 different varieties of bananas around the world (1).

Red bananas are a subgroup of bananas from Southeast Asia with red skin.

They’re soft and have a sweet flavor when ripe. Some people say they taste like a regular banana — but with a hint of raspberry sweetness.

They’re often used in desserts but pair well with savory dishes, too.

Red bananas provide many essential nutrients and may benefit your immune system, heart health, and digestion.

Here are 7 benefits of red bananas — and how they differ from yellow ones. 1. Contain Many Important Nutrients Like yellow bananas, red bananas provide essential nutrients. They’re particularly rich in potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6 and contain a fair amount of fiber. One small red banana (3.5 ounces or 100 grams) provides (2Trusted Source):

  • Calories: 90 calories

  • Carbs: 21 grams

  • Protein: 1.3 grams

  • Fat: 0.3 grams

  • Fiber: 3 grams

  • Potassium: 9% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)

  • Vitamin B6: 28% of the RDI

  • Vitamin C: 9% of the RDI

  • Magnesium: 8% of the RDI

A small red banana only has about 90 calories and consists mostly of water and carbs. The high amounts of vitamin B6, magnesium, and vitamin C make this banana variety particularly nutrient dense.

Summary The red banana is of great nutritional value. It’s rich in essential minerals, vitamin B6, and fiber. 2. May Lower Blood Pressure Potassium is a mineral essential for heart health due to its role in regulating blood pressure. Red bananas are rich in potassium — with one small fruit providing 9% of the RDI. Research shows that eating more potassium-rich foods may help reduce blood pressure (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source).

A review of 22 controlled studies found that eating more potassium lowered systolic blood pressure (the top number of a reading) by 7 mm Hg. This effect was strongest in people who had high blood pressure at the beginning of the study (3Trusted Source). Another important mineral for blood pressure control is magnesium. One small red banana provides about 8% of your daily needs for this mineral. A review of 10 studies noted that increasing your magnesium intake by 100 mg per day may decrease your risk of high blood pressure by up to 5% (6Trusted Source). Additionally, increasing your intake of both magnesium and potassium may be more effective at reducing blood pressure than eating more of just one of the minerals (7Trusted Source). Summary Red bananas are rich in potassium and magnesium. Increasing your intake of these two minerals may help reduce blood pressure. 3. Support Eye Health Red bananas contain carotenoids — pigments that give the fruits their reddish peel (8Trusted Source). Lutein and beta carotene are two carotenoids in red bananas that support eye health. For example, lutein may help prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an incurable eye disease and a leading cause of blindness (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source). In fact, one review of 6 studies found that eating lutein-rich foods could reduce your risk of late age-related macular degeneration by 26% (11Trusted Source). Beta carotene is another carotenoid that supports eye health, and red bananas provide more of it than other banana varieties (8Trusted Source). Beta carotene can be converted into vitamin A in your body — one of the most important vitamins for eye health (12Trusted Source). Summary Red bananas contain carotenoids like lutein and beta carotene that promote eye health and may reduce your risk of macular degeneration. 4. Rich in Antioxidants Like most other fruits and vegetables, red bananas contain powerful antioxidants. In fact, they provide higher amounts of some antioxidants than yellow bananas (8Trusted Source). Antioxidants are compounds that prevent cellular damage caused by molecules called free radicals. Excessive free radicals in your body may lead to an imbalance known as oxidative stress, which is linked to conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source). The main antioxidants in red bananas include (8Trusted Source):

  • carotenoids

  • anthocyanins

  • vitamin C

  • dopamine

These antioxidants may offer protective health benefits. For example, one systematic review found that dietary intake of anthocyanins reduced the risk of coronary heart disease by 9% (16Trusted Source). Eating fruits rich in antioxidants — like red bananas — may lower your risk of some chronic conditions (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source). Summary Red bananas are high in many antioxidants that may prevent cell damage caused by free radicals and lower your risk of certain diseases.

5. May Support Your Immune System Red bananas are rich in vitamins C and B6. These nutrients are essential for a healthy immune system (19Trusted Source). One small red banana provides 9% and 28% of the RDIs for vitamins C and B6, respectively. Vitamin C boosts immunity by strengthening the cells of your immune system. Accordingly, some research suggests that even a marginal vitamin C deficiency may be associated with an increased risk of infection (20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source). Though vitamin C deficiency is relatively rare in the United States — affecting around 7% of adults — it’s important to ensure adequate intake (22Trusted Source). The vitamin B6 in red bananas also plays an important role in supporting your immune system. In fact, a vitamin B6 deficiency may reduce your body’s production of white blood cells and immune antibodies — both of which fight off infection (23Trusted Source). Summary Red bananas are a good source of vitamin C and vitamin B6, which are vitamins that support a strong immune system and fight infection. 6. May Improve Digestive Health Red bananas support your digestive system in many ways. Contain Prebiotics Prebiotics are a type of fiber that feeds your beneficial gut bacteria. Like yellow bananas, red bananas are a great source of prebiotic fiber. Fructooligosaccharides are the main type of prebiotic fiber in bananas, but they also contain another called inulin (24Trusted Source). Prebiotics in bananas may reduce bloating, increase the diversity of friendly gut bacteria, and reduce constipation (25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source). One study found that taking 8 grams of fructooligosaccharides per day for 2 weeks increased the population of beneficial gut bacteria by 10 times (27Trusted Source). Good Source of Fiber One small red banana provides 3 grams of fiber — about 10% of the RDI for this nutrient. Dietary fiber benefits your digestive system by (28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source):

  • promoting regular bowel movements

  • reducing inflammation in your gut

  • stimulating the growth of friendly gut bacteria

Additionally, a high-fiber diet may reduce your risk of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). One study in 170,776 women found that a high-fiber diet — compared to one low in fiber — was associated with a 40% reduced risk of Crohn’s disease (30Trusted Source). Summary Red bananas are rich in prebiotics and fiber, which promote optimal digestion and may reduce your risk of IBD. 7. Delicious and Easy to Add to Your Diet In addition to their health benefits, red bananas are delicious and easy to eat. They’re an extremely convenient and portable snack. Due to their sweet taste, red bananas also offer a healthy way to naturally sweeten a recipe. Here are a few ways to add red bananas to your diet:

  • Toss them into a smoothie.

  • Slice and use them as a topping for oatmeal.

  • Freeze and blend red bananas into homemade ice cream.

  • Pair with peanut butter for a filling snack.

Red bananas are also a great addition to recipes for muffins, pancakes, and homemade bread. Summary Red bananas are a great portable snack. Their sweet flavor also makes them a great addition to various recipes. Red vs. Yellow Bananas Red bananas are fairly similar to their yellow counterparts. They’re both good sources of dietary fiber and provide similarly high in calories and carbs. Still, the two varieties have a few differences. For example, compared to yellow bananas, red bananas (8Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source) :

  • are smaller and denser

  • have a mildly sweeter flavor

  • contain more vitamin C

  • are higher in some antioxidants

  • have a lower glycemic index (GI) score

Though red bananas are sweeter, they have a lower GI score than yellow bananas. The GI is a scale from 0 to 100 which measures how quickly foods increase blood sugar levels. Lower GI scores indicate a slower absorption into the blood. Yellow bananas have an average GI score of 51, while red bananas score lower on the scale at roughly 45. Following a low-GI diet may support healthy blood sugar control and reduce cholesterol levels (31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source).

Summary Red bananas are smaller and sweeter than yellow bananas. They’re higher in certain nutrients — like antioxidants and vitamin C — but have a lower GI score.

The Bottom Line Red bananas are a unique fruit that provides many health benefits. They’re rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. They offer a low-calorie but high-fiber addition to meals, snacks, and nourishing desserts. Among other things, the nutrients in red bananas may contribute to improved heart and digestive health when eaten as part of an overall healthy diet.

How can red bananas improve your health? Why? How can you introduce it to your diet?