Is Unripened Fruit Better than Ripened?

I was having a conversation this morning about the nutritional content of bananas and whether or not they change when they ripen.  I was under the impression that as foods ripen, they increase in calorie content.  So I did some research, and found out this isn’t true.

Take bananas for instance, as they ripen, they convert starch into sugar.  Carbohydrate to carbohydrate.  The calorie content stays the same.  What happens, though, is that the amount of calories that your body can absorb from these foods changes.  Sugar is much easier for your body to absorb, whereas it takes much longer for your body to absorb starch, so it often ends up moving through your digestive tract before the full amount can be broken down by your body.  The difference in calories absorbed between starches and sugars is very small though.  Not really enough to justify eating that starchy banana in place of a ripened one that is sweeter.

So, if you’re trying to cut calories, don’t do it by eating green bananas.  If you’re looking for a low-calorie, filling snack, try apples, grapefruit or berries, which all have a lower glycemic index than a ripened banana and can help keep you feel fuller for longer.

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