Bananas are one of the most popular fruits in the United States, with an average intake of more than 10 pounds per person a year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While bananas usually make a healthy fruit choice, if eating them gives you a stomachache, you may need to rethink which of your fruit choices is the top banana. Consult your doctor if experiencing severe pain after eating a banana.
If you experience stomach cramps after eating a banana, you may be allergic, though this is not very common. Other allergic symptoms might include itching of the mouth or throat, hives, swelling or wheezing.
Additionally, if you're allergic to bananas, you may be allergic to other fruits or vegetables such as avocados, peppers or kiwifruit, which all contain similar proteins. A banana allergy is also associated with an allergy to latex.
If you suspect a food allergy, you need to consult your doctor. Only a doctor can diagnose a food allergy.
Intolerance to Fructose
Fructose is the form of sugar found in fruit. It's also the form of sugar found in table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. Some people have a difficult time digesting and absorbing fructose, and this can lead to abdominal pain and diarrhea.
While bananas aren't a significant source of fructose, eating too many may lead to stomach pain. If you suspect fructose intolerance, contact your doctor.
Not Ripe Enough
If you're eating a banana that's too green, you may experience abdominal pain. Unripened bananas contain high amounts of resistant starch, which is difficult for your body to digest. Allowing the banana to ripen until soft and slightly yellow reduces the amount of resistant starch, making it easier to digest. Cooking also softens the starch to improve digestion.
While the effects may be unpleasant, resistant starch is not bad for you. In fact, it serves as a source of energy for the friendly bacteria in your gut, which helps maintain gut function and assists with the production of certain nutrients such as vitamin K.
Too Much Fiber
One large banana contains 3.5 grams of fiber. If you don't normally get a lot of fiber or if you've eaten a few too many bananas, you may experience abdominal pain due to its fiber content. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate in the banana that your body is unable to digest. When adding fiber to your diet, do so slowly to limit abdominal pain, gas and bloating.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Economic Research Service: Bananas and Apples Remain America's Favorite Fresh Fruit
- Anaphylaxis Campaign: Banana Allergy
- MayoClinic.org: Fructose Intolerance: Which Foods to Avoid?
- Digestive Health Institute: Resistant Starch
- Chiquita Bananas: Banana Information, Handling and Varieties
- University of Michigan Health System: High Fiber Diet
- Harvard School of Public Health: Fiber
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Bananas, Raw
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.