7 Red Banana Benefits (And How They Differ From Yellow Ones)
There are over 1,000 different varieties of bananas around the world. 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:
- 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.
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.
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.
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%.
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.
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.
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.
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%.
Beta carotene is another carotenoid that supports eye health, and red bananas provide more of it than other banana varieties.
Beta carotene can be converted into vitamin A in your body — one of the most important vitamins for eye health.
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.
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.
The main antioxidants in red bananas include:
- vitamin C
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%.
Eating fruits rich in antioxidants — like red bananas — may lower your risk of some chronic conditions.
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.
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.
Though vitamin C deficiency is relatively rare in the United States — affecting around 7% of adults — it’s important to ensure adequate intake.
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.
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.
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.
Prebiotics in bananas may reduce bloating, increase the diversity of friendly gut bacteria, and reduce constipation.
One study found that taking 8 grams of fructooligosaccharides per day for 2 weeks increased the population of beneficial gut bacteria by 10 times.
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:
- 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.
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.
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:
- 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.
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.