Bananas are often revered as a beloved yellow fruit with a naturally sweet taste praised for their health benefits, yet bananas are also villainized as a sugar-laden whole food that can wreak havoc on your teeth and body.
With a quick internet search, you’ll come across an array of contradictory information on if bananas are good for your teeth and general health. From people who swear by how eating multiple bananas per day has done wonders for their health to people who claim bananas have spiked their blood sugar and increased their waistline to people who say the banana peel is a natural teeth whitener.
So, with all the advice, guidance and testimonials out there it can be tough to truly figure out if bananas are good for your teeth is true or just a trend. Well, as a registered dietitian specializing in dental health, I am here to help. I’ve sifted through credible, science-based clinical research (aka no pseudoscience here) to assist in providing a clearer understanding of whether bananas truly deserve a spot in your dental-friendly diet.
In this discussion, we will explore bananas’ nutritional composition, how they impact dental health, and how they can contribute to healthy teeth and gums, plus some fun banana meal ideas and check out the research on if banana peels are natural teeth whitener. Now, let’s peel back the banana layers and see what’s the truth or trend!
PS...if you'd like a free PDF of FUN banana centric food ideas and recipes, happy to provide please click here to subscribe and receive the PDF right to your inbox!
Banana’s Nutrition Composition
Bananas are known to be a good source of potassium, vitamin C and fiber. According to the USDA analysis, the general information about banana nutrition tracks. In fact, per the USDA a medium banana is about 105 calories and provides you with ~27 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 422 milligrams of potassium and ~10 grams of vitamin C. If looking at a nutrition facts label of one medium banana, the following information would likely be displayed. Keep in mind daily values are based on an estimated 2,000 calories per day diet.
In addition to the nutrition facts label, bananas also have a decent amount of phosphorus, folate and vitamin A, particularly in the form of beta-carotene. Will cover the benefits of these nutrients later on.
The Facts On Sugar and Starch in Bananas
Now, in looking at the label, it does appear that there are a lot of carbohydrates, particularly sugars in a banana. The sugar is of course from natural sugar sources, not added sugar. Most of the sugar comes from glucose and fructose.
In my dietetics experience regardless if sugar is added or natural, some people can be fearful of it. So, here’s a breakdown of the roles fructose and glucose play in our bodies.
Per a study published in Nutrients in 2014, fructose helps carbohydrates break down during digestion to give the body energy. The sugar glucose is a kind of sugar that is the main source of energy for your brain. In addition to that, glucose helps provide and transport other nutrients to your muscles and nervous system. More details on glucose can be found in an in-depth article provided by the Cleveland Clinic.
Starch is another nutrient of concern when it comes to bananas, as it is perceived that the starch content of a banana is what causes blood sugar spikes and weight gain. Again, per the USDA a banana contains about ~6 grams of starch. Starch is another type of carbohydrate. High-starchy foods, mostly from complex carbohydrate sources are known to increase blood sugar.
However, the type of starch in a banana is resistant starch. Per the Harvard University nutrition source, resistant starch is a kind of starch that acts similarly to fiber in our digestive tracts. So, even though bananas do have a good amount of carbohydrates and starch, given the kind of starch it causes less of a blood sugar spike than other starchy foods and because of this bananas are considered a low glycemic index food according to the glycemic index database.
Well, there you have it, a detailed look at the nutritional composition of bananas. Yes, bananas contain carbohydrates, especially in the form of sugar and starch, but upon further analysis, the kinds it contains are mostly beneficial!
How Bananas’ Impact Dental Health
In general bananas’ impact on dental health is mostly positive. Yes, bananas contain natural sugars, and even though natural sugars can negatively impact teeth, bananas are also filled with vitamins and minerals that are pivotal for supporting good oral health.
Here are a few ways bananas help and inhibit dental health:
- A Source of Sugar: As discussed in the nutrient composition section, bananas contain sugars glucose and fructose. Again, these are natural sugars that are part of the fruit. Nonetheless, they are sugars and sugar can adhere to teeth and could potentially contribute to the development of tooth decay. However, the sugar content in bananas is low when compared to some other fruits as well as highly refined, highly processed foods with a lot of added sugars.
- Packed With Mouth-Friendly Nutrients: Bananas are filled with vitamin C, fiber, potassium, phosphorus, folate and vitamin A. All vitamins play a role in dental wellness. From reducing dry mouth by helping to create saliva to managing oral inflammation to supporting teeth strength and density. All these vitamins help either directly or indirectly in maintaining mouth health. More details on specific nutrients in bananas that help teeth will be covered in the next.
- They Are A Low Acid Food: According to information provided by Clemson University bananas have a pH between 4.2 – 5.0. Making them a lower-acid food. Acidic foods can be harsh on your teeth and may lead to tooth decay. To learn more about alkaline and acid pH foods and their impact on teeth, refer to Dental Meal Plans’ other blog post “Alkaline Acid Food Chart“.
To recap, bananas have sugar, which could contribute to tooth decay. Yet, the amount of sugar in bananas is low when compared to other foods. They are packed with nutrients that support mouth health and they are low in acid, which makes them less harsh on your teeth than other foods.
If looking to positively impact dental health with bananas, try to combine them with other healthy foods like yogurt, peanut butter or oatmeal and be sure to follow a good oral hygiene regimen along with routine dentist visits.
How Bananas’ Support Healthy Teeth and Gums
Now that there’s a general understanding of the banana’s impact on dental health, in this section, I will go deeper into how bananas support healthy teeth and gums.
Specifically, bananas are packed with the following that help those pearly whites and gums:
- Vitamin C: Bananas contain vitamin C, which is an essential nutrient for healthy gums. Vitamin C plays a crucial role in collagen synthesis, a protein that helps maintain the integrity of gums and connective tissues. Adequate intake of vitamin C supports the prevention of gum inflammation, bleeding, and gum disease. Without enough vitamin C, it may contribute to gum disease, particularly weak gums that could result in teeth becoming loose. A fun fact about this vitamin, the body cannot make it on its own, you must get it from food. For even more fun facts and information on vitamin C and teeth health, check out another article by Dental Meal Plans “3 Vitamins and 1 Mineral For Strong Teeth“.
- Fiber: Bananas are also a great source of fiber. Fiber helps support saliva production. Saliva helps to clean teeth, remove food particles that may adhere to teeth and it helps neutralize the pH of the mouth. Neutralizing mouth pH can make it less acidic, which is good since cavity-causing bacteria tend to thrive in an acidic oral environment.
- Potassium: This may be what bananas are most known for, as being a great source of potassium. Potassium assists in keeping calcium in teeth and as you may know, calcium is vital for strong teeth. In addition to that, potassium helps support bone mineral density, especially in the jaw bone. Having a dense, strong jaw bone helps with bite strength and keeping teeth in place.
Some other nutrients in bananas help support healthy teeth and gums, however, these three nutrients are highlighted as bananas are a great food source of them.
Fun Banana Centric Dental Friendly Food Ideas
Since bananas are a low acid pH, they make a better choice than other fruits to eat solo. If eaten solo, try to drink some water after to help further neutralize the mouth’s pH and reduce any sugar sticking to your teeth that could contribute to cavity formation. Of course, bananas go well in a number of healthy meals and snacks. Plus when eaten with other mostly whole food options you’ll get even more nutrition and sometimes foods combined together help to better absorb the nutrients in all the foods.
So, here are some fun banana centric dental-friendly healthy food ideas:
|Fun Banana Filled Food Ideas|
|Toasted whole wheat bread with peanut butter and sliced bananas|
|Overnght oats with chia seeds, milk, oats and sliced bananas|
|Greek yogurt with sliced banana|
|Kale, spinach smoothie that includes Greek yogurt, pineapple, strawberries and bananas|
|Frozen bananas dipped in dark chocolate|
|Sliced fresh banana topped with whipped cream and some sliced almonds and coconut flakes|
|Protein packed pancakes mix filled with fresh, sliced bananas|
|Banana smoothie that includes banana blended with milk|
|Banana nice cream that includes frozen blend of banana, nut butter and milk|
Are Banana Peels A Natural Teeth Whitener?
Natural teeth whiteners are on the rise, with many people using natural naturally derived products that include items such as turmeric, charcoal, and banana peel. There’s a lot of noise out there with people touting their experience with whitening their teeth using a banana peel. Well, I dove into the science to see if banana peels are a natural teeth whitener to help you decide if this is something to try out.
With a deep dive search on PubMed, I could not find any scientific research or studies that directly investigated banana peels and teeth whitening. Upon further searching there is some research out there on the nutritional composition of banana peels as well as teeth enamel whitening effect of natural products. So, here’s a quick review of the science:
Banana Peel Nutrition and Mineral Composition
The nutrition and mineral composition of banana peels varies slightly depending on how ripe or unripe it is. In general, the peels have some protein, fiber and sugar when it comes to nutrition.
When it comes to the mineral composition according to information from articles in the journal Evidence Based Complimentary Alternative Medicine and Brazilian Dental Journal banana peels contain the minerals phosphorus, iron, calcium, magnesium and sodium. All minerals that are important to supporting strong teeth, especially tooth enamel.
In addition to these minerals, the Brazilian Dental Journal article also notes that banana peels are filled with flavonoids, tannins, and quionones and may even contain antimicrobials. The antimicrobials found in banana peels are thought to contribute to whitening teeth, however, this article showed that they did not impact brightening teeth, but did alter the roughness of the surface of the teeth.
So, According To The Science and Peel Composition, Will It Whiten Teeth?
The short answer is likely no. The Brazilian Dental Journal article specifically looked into the whitening effect of popular natural products, including banana peel. It found that in some the banana peel caused some yellow on the surface of teeth. Likely due to the carotenoids in bananas that cause the peel to be yellow.
Overall, it found that although the peel is filled with nutrition, minerals and natural properties in food that help fuel healthy, strong teeth it did not whiten teeth in the way people desired, especially when compared to well-established whitening agents and products.
Of course, I just recapped the credible nutrition science here, please with whatever products or treatments you are thinking of using or getting done, chat with your dental care provider first!
Final Thoughts: Truth Bananas Are Good For Your Teeth
Yup, bananas are indeed good for your teeth. They are packed with nutrition that helps support strong teeth, gums and overall oral health. They do contain sugar, but its low when compared to other foods, particularly highly processed foods. Bananas can be included in several healthy meals and snacks and for some can satisfy the need for something on the sweeter side while nourishing yourself.
As always, when looking to eat for happy teeth, a mostly whole food diet along with plenty of water makes for a great foundation for balance mouth health and a balanced lifestyle in general.
To wrap it up, I hope you found this article informative and valuable. As a registered dietitian specializing in dental wellness, I am here to be a resource on all things nutrition for mouth health. For any questions, inquiries or how I can help please reach out to me via any method on the contact page.
Cheers To Bananas and Nourished Teeth