Aside from being packed with energy and nutrients, this tropical fruit makes a convenient snack at any time of the day.
Oftentimes, you’ll see organic and conventionally grown, or non-organic, bananas side by side at grocery stores and markets. They look similar, so you might wonder whether they differ — and whether organic bananas are better.
This article compares organic and conventionally grown bananas so you can decide which type to choose.
Whether organic or not, bananas are low in calories, protein, and fat. Plus, they’re a good source of carbs, fiber, natural sugars, and many vitamins and minerals.
On average, one 4.4-ounce (126-gram) banana contains (
- Calories: 112
- Protein: 1.4 grams
- Fat: < 1 gram
- Carbs: 28.8 grams
- Fiber: 3.3 grams
- Sugar: 15.4 grams
- Vitamin B6: 27% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin C: 12% of the DV
- Copper: 11% of the DV
- Potassium: 10% of the DV
- Magnesium: 8% of the DV
- Riboflavin: 7% of the DV
- Folate: 6% of the DV
Bananas are higher in carbs than some other fruits, but they have a low glycemic index (GI) of around 50, although this varies depending on their ripeness.
GI levels range from 0–100 and indicate how a specific food affects your blood sugar. The higher the GI, the more the food spikes your blood sugar levels (6).
Because bananas have a relatively low GI, are packed with complex carbs, and contain plenty of fiber, they typically don’t cause large blood sugar spikes in people who don’t have any underlying metabolic issues such as diabetes.
Organic vs. conventional bananas
Organic bananas are essentially identical to conventional ones — they’re just grown using different production methods. Thus, they contain mostly the same nutrients.
Still, limited research suggests that amounts of certain nutrients could vary between the two types. For example, one study found that some organic bananas were higher in zinc than conventional bananas (
Besides this, not much research has explored any nutrient differences between them. Thus, it can’t confidently be claimed that organic bananas have more nutrients than their conventionally grown counterparts.
The nutrition profile of both conventional and organic bananas can also differ between farms. Factors such as the soil, altitude, and temperature during growth can influence the fruit’s final composition (
Both organic and conventional bananas are nutritious fruits full of fiber, energy-boosting carbs, vitamins, and minerals. Not much research supports the claim that organic bananas have more nutrients than conventional ones.
Bananas of all shapes, sizes, and production methods boast many health benefits, including:
- Rich in bioactive compounds. Antioxidants, polyphenols, carotenoids, and phytosterols are just some of the bioactive compounds in bananas that may promote health and help prevent disease (
4, 10, 11, 12).
- Support heart health. The potassium, magnesium, and fiber in bananas work together to potentially lower blood pressure and reduce heart disease risk (
- May help with weight loss. Not only are bananas low in calories, but their fiber supports healthy digestion and might help you feel full longer. These effects could support your weight loss efforts (
13, 15, 16, 17).
Due to a lack of research on the topic, it remains unknown whether organic bananas are more likely to have these benefits than conventional ones.
Meanwhile, other studies have found that organic foods may be better for preventing obesity and reducing the risks of cancer, infertility, allergies, high blood pressure during pregnancy, and other conditions (
Nevertheless, many of these studies have been observational. This means that many other factors could be at play and that any speculated benefits cannot simply be attributed to eating organic produce.
Ultimately, more studies in humans are needed to determine whether organic bananas can be linked with specific health outcomes (
Both organic and conventional bananas are packed with nutrients and healthy plant compounds. They might support heart health, digestive health, and weight loss. Still, it remains unknown whether organic bananas are better for your health.
When comparing organic bananas and conventional bananas, you may first consider any health and nutritional differences.
However, since it remains uncertain whether there are any significant nutritional differences between the two, here are a few other factors you might want to consider instead:
- Cost. Organic bananas tend to cost more than conventional bananas, although prices vary depending on the store and where in the world you’re located (
- Environment. Many people choose organic foods for environmental reasons. Conventional banana farms might be more detrimental to surrounding air, soil, and water quality compared with organic farms (
26, 27, 28).
- Workers’ rights. Compared with those working on organic farms, employees on conventional banana plantations are at greater risk of pesticide exposure, respiratory conditions, fatigue, gastrointestinal distress, and more (
- Chemicals. It’s possible that organic bananas contain fewer pesticides, heavy metals, and other agricultural chemicals compared with conventional bananas (
Ultimately, which type to choose is up to you. If you can afford the potentially higher cost of organic bananas, they may boast more environmental benefits, be better for workers’ rights, or contain fewer chemicals than their conventional counterparts.
Even though their nutrition may be similar, organic and conventional bananas differ in other ways. To decide which option suits you better, you might consider the cost, environmental effects, and workers’ rights.
Typically, organic and conventional bananas are clearly labeled at grocery stores and markets.
If they’re not identified by a sign at the store, simply look closer at any stickers or plastic wrap. Most of the time, these will explicitly state whether the fruit is organic.
Another way to identify organic produce, including bananas, is to look at the price look-up (PLU) code on the label or sticker. PLU codes feature 4–5 numbers and are used to identify products.
If a PLU code starts with the digit 9, the product is likely organic.
Organic bananas are usually labeled as such with stickers, wrap, or signs. You can also check the PLU code on the fruit’s sticker, which will start with the digit 9 if the fruit is organic.
Many people wonder whether organic foods are healthier than conventional ones, but the answer to that question is not always cut and dried.
This is also the case with bananas, as there isn’t much evidence supporting which type might be healthier. Nevertheless, both organic and conventionally grown bananas are nutritious fruits.
Some people might prefer organic bananas due to differences in environmental impacts, chemicals used, or worker’s rights, though the decision is completely up to you.
Ultimately, fresh bananas of any type are convenient, full of health benefits, and easy to add to your diet.
Just one thing
Try this today: Tired of plain old bananas? Shake things up with a green smoothie!