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Side Effects of Giving Up Bananas, According to Science

Ditching these healthy fruits from your diet could have major effects on your health.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino
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Whether you're blending them into a smoothie or peeling one as a post-workout snack, bananas are an inexpensive, portable, and delicious way to fill up and add essential nutrients, like potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C, to your diet. However, if you're among the many people who've cut these tasty fruits out of your diet as part of a low-carb diet, you may experience some surprising health changes. Read on to discover the side effects of giving up bananas, according to research. And for some worthwhile additions to your diet, check out The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

1

Your immune system may suffer.

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Bananas—and unripe bananas in particular—are an excellent source of resistant starch. Resistant starch has a prebiotic effect, meaning it feeds the healthy bacteria in your digestive tract. However, if you cut bananas from your diet, you can deprive your beneficial gut bacteria of the food they need to proliferate.

According to a 2013 research article published in Frontiers in Immunology, adequate prebiotic fiber can even help provide support to your immune system—but cutting out prebiotic foods, like bananas, may leave your immune health lacking, potentially making you more susceptible to illness. And for some more reasons to keep bananas on your menu, check out these Surprising Side Effects Bananas Have On Your Immune System, According to Science.

2

You may recover less effectively from workouts.

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Want to fuel your workouts without turning to highly-processed protein bars or sports drinks? Try a banana instead! A medium banana contains approximately 517 milligrams of potassium, or 11% of your RDA, a deficiency in which has been linked to muscle cramps.

A 2012 study published in PLOS One also found that bananas were effective at reducing post-exercise inflammation and produced higher levels of circulating dopamine in athletes post-workout than carbohydrate-based exercise recovery drinks, meaning the lack of them in your diet could cause your workouts to result in greater wear and tear on your body.

3

You may find yourself hungrier.

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You may have nixed the bananas from your diet to lose weight, but doing so may actually have the opposite effect. According to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Functional Foods, consuming resistant starch from unripe banana flour before meals resulted in a 14% decrease in subsequent caloric intake. Granted, the same chemical change in your body is less likely to happen with ripened bananas, nevertheless, bananas can still promote weight loss.

4

You may become more susceptible to the flu.

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If you find yourself catching the flu every year, you'll probably want to keep bananas on your menu.

A 2020 review of research published in PNAS found that engineered banana lectin (a type of indigestible sugar-binding fiber) has antiviral properties against multiple influenza strains. While bananas may support your immune health, you obviously can't rely on this one food to protect you from severe viruses like the flu. It's best to wash your hands and eat a balanced diet that's rich in many of the 30 Best Immune-Boosting Foods.

5

You may be more likely to develop high blood pressure.

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If you're eager to keep your blood pressure in a healthy range, you may want to keep potassium-rich bananas on the menu. A 2005 study published in the journal Hypertension found that foods rich in potassium were likely to have a similar blood pressure-lowering effect as potassium chloride, a supplement frequently used to lower blood pressure. Want to get your blood pressure into an even healthier territory? Start with these 20 Healthiest Foods That Lower Blood Pressure.

6

You may be at greater risk for stroke.

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High blood pressure is a serious risk factor for stroke, and cutting potassium-rich foods, like bananas, from your diet could send those numbers into dangerous territory.

In fact, a 2013 review of meta-analyses published in the BMJ found that individuals who had higher potassium intakes reduced their risk of stroke by as much as 24%, so you might not want to ditch those bananas from your meal plan just yet.

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