How to know which bananas give you constipation and which, uh, definitely don’t

There’s one simple way to know if it’s time to back off on the bananas for a bit. And nope, it’s not having a freezer jam-packed with loaf upon loaf of banana bread or being that girl who buys them by the boxful at Whole Foods. It’s actually what’s going on with your bowel movements… or lack thereof. Yep, buckle up. We’re going there.

Plenty of different types of food cause constipation. Some aren’t too surprising, like red meat and fried foods. But then there are the seemingly healthy staples that can cause issues in the bathroom too, and one of the prime culprits is the beloved banana. While bananas are packed with nutrients—like potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B6—Max Lugavere, the health and nutrition expert behind Genius Foods, says they can also have a major downside depending on which stage of ripeness you’re into.

There are three parts of a banana’s life cycle: green, yellow, and brown. When they’re green—or unripe—they’re a great source of prebiotics. Unfortunately, because they contain the highest amount of hard-to-digest starch at the time, they can leave you very constipated. As the banana ripens and turns yellow, it’s sweeter, contains a higher amount of antioxidants, and digests more quickly. Yellow bananas also contain soluble fiber that supports your digestion instead of slowing it down, finally helping you poop (or simply stay consistent).

So what about brown bananas? They’re easy to digest as well, meaning your banana bread obsession is totally A-okay. And extra bonus: They’re also at their sweetest and contain the highest antioxidant levels. When it comes down to it, you can still eat as much of the fruit as you want. But if you want to stay regular—and I know you know what I mean by regular—avoid the green guys at all costs.

 

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Here’s our best healthy banana bread recipe:

Here’s why the key to a good night’s sleep might be eating a banana before bed. Also, you should probably know about these healthy ways to use overripe bananas before they start a fruit fly fan club.