Bananas and (healthy) sugars

The prevalence of overweight and obesity has risen dramatically over the past few decades. It is a result from a continued imbalance between food intake and daily physical activity. While it cannot be denied that fat is the main cause of weight gain, it seems that sugars are getting much of the blame.

However, studies have revealed that increased consumption and increased portion sizes may be the reason that we and our children are ingesting far too much sugar. Between the late 1970s and the late 1990s, a 123% increase in soft drink consumption among children and adolescents was reported[1] in the US.
Now we have soft drinks that are marketed as light and are sweetened with high-intensity sweeteners, compounds with many times the sweetness of sugar. Because these sweeteners are many times sweeter than suger, much less is required and energy contribution is often negligible.

Some naturally occurring sugars are not as sweet as sugar: fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are also used as sweeterers, they exhibit sweetness levels between 30 and 50 percent of sugar and they are excellent substitutes for sugar and fat.

Banana has been indicated as a good source of fructooligosaccharides. In a full-ripe stage, 1-kestose, a fructooligosaccharide, was accumulated in all tested bananas with amounts between 297 and 1600 µg/g of dry matter[2].

[1] French et al: National trends in soft drink consumption among children and adolescents age 6 to 17 years: prevalence, amounts, and sources, 1977/1978 to 1994/1998 in Journal of the American Dietetic Association - 2003
[2] Der Agopian et al: Identification of fructooligosaccharides in different banana cultivars in Journal of Agricultural Food and Chemistry - 2009

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