Gut health – green bananas, mangoes and papayas

When I was growing up, we eat green mangoes with salt or salted small shrimp. We cooked the green bananas and green papayas in a soup base meal.  Now, I have used green papaya smoothie when my father had lung cancer, green mangoes for salads and cooked green bananas for my mom’s arthritis.  Mangoes are rich nutrient-filled fruits among all the fruits.

Connie

 


 

By Dr. Mercola

  • Green (unripened) banana, papaya and mango contain higher amounts of digestive-resistant starch than ripe ones, which is important for optimal gut health. Sample recipes are included
  • Unripe banana is composed of as much as 80 percent starch, most of which is digestive-resistant starch. As the banana ripens, the starch gets converted into sugars
  • Unripe Langra mango has as much vitamin C as 35 apples or nine lemons, and while ripe and unripe papaya are both rich in antioxidants and fiber, green papaya contains higher amounts of potassium

 

Are you getting enough fiber in your diet? If not, your health may suffer in more ways than one. A common sign your diet is lacking in fiber is constipation and irregular bowel movements, but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg.

Fiber-rich foods like vegetables promote optimal gut health by nourishing beneficial gut bacteria. Certain fruits are also high in fiber, including underripe bananas, papayas and mangoes.

These fruits have yet another feature that makes them interesting. Their nutritional content changes depending on their ripeness, and in their unripened state, they contain higher amounts of digestive-resistant starch, which is important for optimal gut health.1

The idea that an unripe fruit might be healthier than a ripe one may seem seriously counterintuitive.

The sugar content of a fruit is typically used as an indicator of quality — not because the sugars are in and of themselves necessarily an indicator of quality, but they’re typically associated with the plant’s mineral content. Hence, it can be used as a marker of quality.

To measure sugar content, a refractometer or so-called Brix meter is used. The most common Brix meters measure on a scale of 0 to 32 degrees Brix, and the sweeter the fruit, the higher the nutritional content is thought to be.

However, in the case of mango, its vitamin C content is actually much higher in the unripe fruit than in the ripened one. Vitamins and minerals are also not the sole reason for eating fruits though. Fiber is also important, and in some cases unripe fruit is a better option.

What’s so Great About Digestive-Resistant Starch?

Fiber is typically classified as either soluble or insoluble. However, from a health standpoint, the fermentability of the fiber is what’s really important. Digestive-resistant starches are low-viscous fibers that resist digestion in the small intestine and slowly ferment in your large intestine.2

Here, resistant starches act as prebiotics, feeding healthy bacteria. Due to their slow fermentation, they won’t make you gassy. They also add significant bulk to your stools, and help you maintain regular bowel movements.

Best of all, since they’re indigestible, resistant starches do not result in blood sugar spikes. In fact, research suggests resistant starches help improve insulin regulation, reducing your risk of insulin resistance.3,4,5,6

Besides underripe banana, papaya and mango, other foods high in resistant starch include white beans, lentils, seeds and products like potato starch, tapioca starch and brown rice flour.

(Interestingly, cooking a normally digestible starch such as potato or pasta and then cooling it in the refrigerator will alter the chemistry of the food, transforming more of it into resistant-type starch.7)

Green Bananas

As noted by Authority Nutrition, “before it ripens, a banana is almost entirely starch, which composes up to 70 to 80 percent of its dry weight. A large part of this starch is digestive-resistant starch. As the banana ripens, the amount of starch and resistant starch decreases and is converted into sugars.”8

Because of their high-resistant starch content, green bananas can be used to safely treat diarrhea in children and adults.

Green Mangoes

There are over 500 varieties of mango, some of the most popular of which include Malda, Alphonso, Langra, Sipia, Sukul and Bumbaiya. Interestingly, unripe mango is an exceptionally rich source of vitamin C. Green (unripe) Langra mango contains as much vitamin C as 35 apples, nine lemons or three oranges.12

I have seven mango trees in my yard that are just about ready to ripen and look forward to trying them underripe. In India, green mango is used as a natural remedy for:

Gastrointestinal (GI) disorders: Green mango, eaten with salt and honey is used to treat a range of GI problems, including diarrhea, dysentery, piles, morning sickness, indigestion and constipation.

Liver problems: The acids in unripe mango increase bile secretion and act as an intestinal antiseptic. It also helps purify your blood and acts as a liver tonic. Green mango with honey and pepper is used for stomach ache due to poor digestion, hives and jaundice.

Blood disorders: The high vitamin C content of unripe mango helps improve blood vessel elasticity and increases formation of new blood cells. It also aids absorption of iron and decreases bleeding. According to the Indian magazine Deccan Herald:13

“Eating an unripe mango daily during the summer season prevents … infections, increases body resistance against tuberculosis, cholera, dysentery, anemia etc.

It tones the heart, nerves and cures palpitation of the heart, nervous tension, insomnia and weakness of the memory … Eating raw mango with salt quenches thirst and prevents loss of sodium chloride and iron during summer due to excessive sweating. It tones up the body and helps one to tolerate the excessive heat.”

As with green papaya, there’s a caveat. Avoid eating more than one unripe mango per day, as it may cause throat irritation and/or indigestion when eaten in excess. Also avoid drinking cold water immediately afterward, as it coagulates the sap, thereby increasing the risk of irritation.

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