Bananas for Hormones?

September 7, 2023

Bananas for Hormones?

Dr. Nicole Sundene

Scottsdale Naturopathic Doctor

Banana: Hormone Friend or Foe?

“Bananas are good for you! Bananas are bad for you! Bananas are fattening! Bananas cause constipation! Avoid Bananas!”

Is there any banana statement I have not yet heard out there? I doubt it. 

I have heard just about everything there is to hear about bananas from the diet world. Let me quickly summarize twenty five years of using bananas for fuel with patients and simply conclude that bananas are an excellent whole foods substitute to dessert and junk foods. My patients that understand they are full of good carbs and use them wisely are at a healthy fit weight.

Bananas are delicious and rich in fiber and potassium which is also good for blood pressure. However, too many bananas are bad for the heart, as high potassium can adversely impact heart beat or contractility. Yes, I have actually seen several patients with chronic chest pain nobody else could seem to solve, thought it was hormonal in nature, and it turned out they were just eating too many bananas a day. 

Isn’t that just bananas?  

So bananas should be used moderately as a “functional food” and may not be the best food in high amounts for people with high blood pressure, heart disease, weight gain, chest pain, Raynaud’s syndrome,  stomach aches, nausea, or constipation. Green bananas were proven clinically effective for pediatric diarrhea. [1] 

Therefore, bananas are plant based dessert at its finest and in small therapeutic amounts an excellent dairy free healthy dessert. I often buy the “Diana’s Bananas” already pre dipped in chocolate in the freezer section. 

Sometimes just 1-2 banana halves after dinner and some herbal tea can stop me from bingeing and wrecking my weight loss program.  I am satisfied from a healthy dessert, can brush my teeth and stop eating for the night. 

Bananas are generally a “good carb” because they contain fiber and minerals and not just pure fat and sugar. Therefore bananas will not spike glucose as rapidly, especially when paired with a protein source, nuts, nut butter or protein powder. So while I do nag a lot of my Diabetes patients that they are eating too many bananas in their smoothies and snacks, I also believe they are a better healthier alternative to ice cream and pure sugar.

If bananas have sugar isn’t that bad for hormones? Yes and No. 

So let’s backtrack our biochemistry to visit the “Mother of Hormone Imbalance” which is...

Insulin Resistance. Once insulin is elevated it spikes estrogen which causes “Female Hormone Imbalance” therefore it is imperative we get the carbs right. 

Too much or too little extreme of carbs is generally not good in Women’s Health. So we can assume that too many bananas is just about as bad as not enough bananas. 

Unless you have allergy to banana, or a Latex Allergy. Those allergic to latex will also react to bananas and the other latex containing fruits. 

Allergy and eczema patients may have a cross over allergic reaction from latex containing fruits: avocado, chestnut, kiwifruit, passionfruit, plum, strawberry and tomato. Many of my health care workers, especially nurses, that spent years wearing latex gloves as I did working in Dermatology all day, will have this fruit reaction and their hands will break out in a rash when they eat the latex containing fruit. They often get a tickle in their throat and continue to cough until it passes. Sometimes small bumps or blisters will form around the mouth, the roof of the mouth or the back of the throat after eating latex fruits. 

However, I generally see my patients thriving on bananas that use them correctly. I definitely do not see women thrive on Keto or Carnivore the way men can, and believe our metabolisms are just set up completely differently. Women need carbs along with a high fiber and protein diet once they are menopausal. 

So instead of carb shaming,  I would rather teach everyone about my favorite “good carbs” and teach you how to use them wisely. Too much of any good thing, is simply too much. But I am bananas about bananas as a Naturopathic Doctor, because they are a delicious cold treat in the Scottsdale heat, and we all need electrolytes as we constantly sweat and breathe salts and minerals off. 

So I believe a banana a day is probably just fine. If you want bonus points eat an apple a day instead of a banana though, because there is far more weight loss and health research on apples. 

ALAS THE BANANA RECIPE... 😉

Ingredients: Frozen Bananas

Directions: Peel, chop in large chunks, and freeze overly ripe (not brown) bananas. Place in Cuisinart food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy. Enjoy alone or add some organic chocolate sauce for garnish! If you are dairy intolerant be sure to use dairy free chocolate sauce or other alternative topping.

Variations: If you don’t have a Cuisinart then you can just chop the frozen bananas up and enjoy with some organic chocolate sauce, raspberries, or strawberries. See what other kinds of frozen fruits can easily be made in to “ice cream”. If you have a child that is allergic to dairy, giving them fresh fruit “ice cream” is a fun way to get more whole foods intto your kids. Be sure to call it “ice cream” so they are excited to eat this whole foods treat!

To save money I purchase bunches of bananas when they are on sale and then chop in thirds and freeze for smoothies and other healthy treats.

Sorry this turned into one of those really annoying long recipe blogs where you have to read someone’s entire life story to get one tiny little recipe nine pages later, but I just wanted to share the truth about bananas from my experience as a Naturopathic women's health doc so that women everywhere are not scared of them, nor are they ODing on them.... but using them right! Bananas are a good, cheap complex carb source when used right! Just don't abuse them.

Although bananas have been given a bad rap by dieters when you weigh in the average 100 calories in a banana next to a large fattening bowl of ice cream, the banana is going to win hands down! Plus bananas have all the fiber, potassium, vitamins, and minerals that ice cream can’t compete with.

If you need my help with your hormones simply visit my SCHEDULE page to treat yourself to a Naturopathic visit. I would be happy to help! 

Dr. Nicole Sundene

(480) 837-0900

Dr. Sundene is a Naturopathic Doctor in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is considered a Female Hormone Specialist  in Women's Health and Bioidentical Hormones. She specializes in Holistic Women's Health for MenopauseThyroid, Hashimotos, PMS, PerimenopauseAutoimmune, Postpartum, Chronic Fatigue, Depression, Anxiety, Food Allergies, Digestion, Dermatology , Acne, Psoriasis, Eczema and Adrenal Hormonal Conditions. In 1999 she began working for a Hormone Doctor prior to starting Naturopathic Medical School. With over 22 years of experience in both Prescription and Natural women's health and hormones she presents to women the best integrated health solutions for their Chronic Disease. She has been an Herbalist for over 27 years and enjoys teaching women how to use herbs to balance their hormones, nutrition and optimize their health. Dr. Sundene relies on blood testing for her hormone metrics. The hormone testing is covered per the patient's insurance plan and conducted at certain points in the woman's menstrual cycle. To learn more about Hormone Testing for Women Visit: Bioidentical Hormones. Follow Dr. Sundene on InstagramTwitter and Facebook for more tips on Women's Health, Female Hormones and Naturopathy!

Reference: 

  1. Sarmin M, Hossain MI, Islam SB, Shikha SS, Alam NH, Sarker MSA, Islam MM, Islam SMR, Mahfuz M, Chisti MJ, Ahmed T. Open-label, randomised controlled trial found that a green banana mixed rice suji diet was most effective for persistent diarrhoea in children in Bangladesh. Acta Paediatr. 2023 Aug;112(8):1755-1763. doi: 10.1111/apa.16810. Epub 2023 May 15. PMID: 37144517.
  2. Blanch N, Clifton PM, Petersen KS, Willoughby SR, Keogh JB. Effect of high potassium diet on endothelial function. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2014 Sep;24(9):983-9. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2014.04.009. Epub 2014 May 2. PMID: 24875671.

Dr. Sundene is a Naturopathic Doctor in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is considered a Female Hormone Specialist  in Women's Health and Bioidentical Hormones. She specializes in Holistic Women's Health for MenopauseThyroid, Hashimotos, PMS, PerimenopauseAutoimmune, Postpartum, Chronic Fatigue, Depression, Anxiety, Food Allergies, Digestion, Dermatology , Acne, Psoriasis, Eczema and Adrenal Hormonal Conditions. In 1999 she began working for a Hormone Doctor prior to starting Naturopathic Medical School. With over 22 years of experience in both Prescription and Natural women's health and hormones she presents to women the best integrated health solutions for their Chronic Disease. She has been an Herbalist for over 27 years and enjoys teaching women how to use herbs to balance their hormones, nutrition and optimize their health. Dr. Sundene relies on blood testing for her hormone metrics. The hormone testing is covered per the patient's insurance plan and conducted at certain points in the woman's menstrual cycle. To learn more about Hormone Testing for Women Visit: Bioidentical Hormones. Follow Dr. Sundene on InstagramTwitter and Facebook for more tips on Women's Health, Female Hormones and Naturopathy!

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