3

votes

Are bananas and sweet potatoes too starchy for paleo?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 23, 2011 at 11:47 AM

I've read in Dr. Cordain's book that he does not advocate sweet potatoes but bananas are fine. Also I don't think Arthur de Vany is pro-banana or sweet potato. I'm not too sure if either are too starchy. Also de Vany doesn't really eat tubers or sugars when he works out, so he doesn't replace the sugars lost during exercise - its a form of intermittent fasting.

Basically I love sweet potatoes and bananas and I know (think) they're great for post workout but as with most paleo friendly foods it does not really matter how much you consume, e.g. meat, fish, vegetables and fish, so my question is what's your take on bananas and sweet potatoes?

Should we limit them to an occasional treat, keep them for workouts or are they good to go on a regular basis?

8c2ed9a35f6c4d35a3552a13ddabec8d

(525)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

which book is that??

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on March 15, 2012
at 04:34 AM

not that it matters much, but according to wiki, Canola is a plant, as well as the name coming from "Canadian oil, low acid". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canola#History "Canola was developed through conventional plant breeding from rapeseed, an oilseed plant already used in ancient civilization as a fuel"

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on March 15, 2012
at 04:32 AM

not that it matters much, but according to wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canola#History, Canola is a plant, as well as the name coming from "Canadian oil, low acid". "Canola was developed through conventional plant breeding from rapeseed, an oilseed plant already used in ancient civilization as a fuel"

Ebcbbdcb8b727e69e06eaa102d49a84c

(1804)

on February 07, 2012
at 07:44 PM

I eat bananas but have been trying to lose a few pounds. Would the recommendation be to not eat them? or only eat post-heavy workout?

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on February 07, 2012
at 07:30 PM

This is not germane to the question asked. Furthermore, since there is no "Canola" plant, canola oil (which stands for canadian oil low acid) is most certainly not paleo. The omega-3 amount in canola oil is disputed, since most of the omega-3's are denatured into transfatty acids when canolia is heated. Yet furthermore, oliveoil is generally not considered a great source of omega-3's, but is considered a neutral oil with some omega-3's.

Medium avatar

(65)

on March 13, 2011
at 11:48 PM

in New Zealand the majority of sweet potato (kumara) are grown here :)

C2502365891cbcc8af2d1cf1d7b0e9fc

(2437)

on February 24, 2011
at 09:05 PM

It's a figure of speech. It like saying IMHO

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on February 23, 2011
at 11:53 PM

yes in my view they are. But if youre in fine shape you can clearly overcome it but it is not ideal based upon our biochemistry. Context is important when discussing these things.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on February 23, 2011
at 10:46 PM

agreed here, with Jason, with Carly's caveat.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on February 23, 2011
at 07:57 PM

yes plantains are called platanos in hispanic culture, and are particularly popular in the dominican republic. we cook platanos on occassion, and while we used to fry them in (gulp) canola oil, now we use ghee or coconut oil and they come out wonderful.

7e1064164e012a1ead098098245b1cd4

(1217)

on February 23, 2011
at 07:23 PM

Very good point :-)

2507b557331c8a674bc81197531e609a

(4994)

on February 23, 2011
at 05:36 PM

This is fine as long as you don't have some sort of auto-immune response to potatoes, I personally bloat up like a whale if I eat white potatoes, they are potentially problematic to some people.

1340fe0b7e7b01683ea33042092e05d6

(1693)

on February 23, 2011
at 02:46 PM

correct - edited to little

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on February 23, 2011
at 02:19 PM

That's essentially true, though a cup of sweet potato has a couple of grams of fructose and a couple grams of sucrose, according to nutritiondata.com. Very little, but not strictly zero.

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13 Answers

9
7e1064164e012a1ead098098245b1cd4

(1217)

on February 23, 2011
at 11:54 AM

I eat sweet potatoes frequently, four to five times a week. I don't tend to eat fruit so much due to the fructose content but a banana every now and again after a hard workout probably won't cause you too much harm, although starches would definitely be recommended over fruit.

Kurt Harris (paleonu.com) recommends potatoes as a 'safe starch' for those with a healthy metabolism. He says:

If you are not trying to lose weight and you like to eat potatoes and rice, EAT THEM.

Sweet potatoes, white rice and white potatoes are well tolerated by most people and starchy vegetables per se are not neolithic agents of disease. Many active people without diabetes or metabolic syndrome feel and function better with a fair amount of starch in their diet.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on February 23, 2011
at 10:46 PM

agreed here, with Jason, with Carly's caveat.

7e1064164e012a1ead098098245b1cd4

(1217)

on February 23, 2011
at 07:23 PM

Very good point :-)

2507b557331c8a674bc81197531e609a

(4994)

on February 23, 2011
at 05:36 PM

This is fine as long as you don't have some sort of auto-immune response to potatoes, I personally bloat up like a whale if I eat white potatoes, they are potentially problematic to some people.

5
C2502365891cbcc8af2d1cf1d7b0e9fc

(2437)

on February 23, 2011
at 10:05 PM

Just depends. In my book there are two paleos: one for healthy people looking to stay that way for longer, perhaps put on weight and muscle. Then there's on for people like me: long time carb addict, insulin resistent, obese, reactive hypoglycemic, mid 40s. I avoid carbs like they're plague.

8c2ed9a35f6c4d35a3552a13ddabec8d

(525)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

which book is that??

C2502365891cbcc8af2d1cf1d7b0e9fc

(2437)

on February 24, 2011
at 09:05 PM

It's a figure of speech. It like saying IMHO

2
Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on February 23, 2011
at 03:04 PM

I eat both regularly!

Yesterday, my wife made a delicious sweet potato soup with cinnamon, vanilla, ghee, sea salt, heavy cream. Also, mash up a hot sweet potato and put a giant spoonful of butter in there, drizzle a teaspoon of maple syrup (only 5g sugars), add some cinnamon, and BAM! you got yourself a delicious little treat.

For bananas, I eat about 3-4 small bananas per week (specifically choose the smallest on purpose). My favorite way to eat a banana is sliced up in a bowl of heavy cream. I also happen to believe that banana with almond pecan butter dollop smeared on it is a delight.

Well... there you have it. My whole answer is not very 'Paleo' with the sweet potatoes, maple syrup, bananas, nut butter. But hey! These are excellent alternatives to the nasty 'treats' that so many people eat (and I used to as well).

Bottom line... if you are not on a mad weight loss campaign, and you have a healthy metabolism, I see no problem with eating tubers and bananas, especially if you eat a variety of healthy fats/proteins.

2
1340fe0b7e7b01683ea33042092e05d6

on February 23, 2011
at 01:14 PM

If I had to choose between one or the other, I'd nod yes to sweet potatoes and pass on the banana. Its been found that sweet potatoes (heavily consisted of starch, glucose molecules chained together, and little to no fructose) primarily refills muscle glycogen (good). While bananas (heavily consisted of fructose and glucose), refills liver glycogen (bad).

If your overall goal is to change body composition and you are going to eat sweat potatoes, favor them after some type of workout and then in moderation after that.

If you are happy where you are at body fat wise, enjoy them!

1340fe0b7e7b01683ea33042092e05d6

(1693)

on February 23, 2011
at 02:46 PM

correct - edited to little

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on February 23, 2011
at 02:19 PM

That's essentially true, though a cup of sweet potato has a couple of grams of fructose and a couple grams of sucrose, according to nutritiondata.com. Very little, but not strictly zero.

Ebcbbdcb8b727e69e06eaa102d49a84c

(1804)

on February 07, 2012
at 07:44 PM

I eat bananas but have been trying to lose a few pounds. Would the recommendation be to not eat them? or only eat post-heavy workout?

1
6bb76ea1e5e4434cd6d3558c01be5f58

(50)

on November 22, 2011
at 12:18 PM

I agree with both Wozza and animacule. I am a very lean person, and my body craves carbs.

1
26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

on February 24, 2011
at 11:23 AM

As long as your metabolism is normal, they are awesome. I don't care much for bananas but love plantains, sweet potatoes, all sorts of roots and tubers. I also eat white potatoes and white rice. I'm skinny and active and I need my starch. Experimenting has proven I feel better when I get it.

1
8f08fb03fc5c2f44b7d5357e8a3ab1c5

on February 23, 2011
at 05:48 PM

Unripe bananas are probably more favorable than overripe ones if you looking to get more starch than sugar. However, unripe ones can be bitter and act as a laxative, so just listen to your body.

First off, take Cordain's recommendations with a grain of salt - he suggested diet soda as acceptable a long time ago, and he misinterpreted saturated fat values in wild game. If you cook sweet potatoes long enough, there is no reason not to eat them - they are incredibly nutritious and have a very good ratio of complex carbs to sugars.

Having said that, I personally found that my stomach doesn't like them, nutritious or not. If you are looking for a more tolerable source of starch, give plantains a try. I buy them for 25 cents a pop at walmart. Then I slice them, microwave for 7 minutes, and finish in oven at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. This comes out as crispy plantain chips, and it's nutritious with almost all starch. You can also cook them, fry (if you are so inclined), and they will always be delicious.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on February 23, 2011
at 07:57 PM

yes plantains are called platanos in hispanic culture, and are particularly popular in the dominican republic. we cook platanos on occassion, and while we used to fry them in (gulp) canola oil, now we use ghee or coconut oil and they come out wonderful.

1
77ecc37f89dbe8f783179323916bd8e6

(5002)

on February 23, 2011
at 05:33 PM

I've been eating sweet potatoes or small bananas on strength-training days.

If I recall correctly, Chris Masterjohn recently discussed data that shows lower insulin spikes from carbs when eaten with fat. He used this as evidence against De Vany's claim that high-fat diets can be dangerous for high-carb eaters.

Taking this to heart, here is my routine. I microwave 1/2 sweet potato for 5 minutes, remove the skin, add 1/2 stick of butter, microwave for another 1 to 2 minutes, add cinnamon, then mash it all up until the butter is no longer visible on the edges. That's it, and it's delicious.

Masterjohn's argument sounded convincing to me. Plus - a la Seth Roberts - I'm always looking for new ways to incorporate more butter into my diet. And, it doesn't hurt that Kurt Harris has come out in support of eating sweet potatoes.

[For what it is worth, note that I don't follow anyone's recommendations very closely. In fact, I'm pretty laid back about my own diet, which is lacto-paleo with fermented foods. That said, I do like it when thoughtful people whom I respect (CM, SR, KH) make decisions consonant with my intuitions and behavior.]

0
7cf4ae85969aaf1a331057c0745d8575

on March 15, 2012
at 03:34 AM

I think it is important to remember that humans would -- all other things being equal -- face no selective pressure from banana consumption. In other words, would eating bananas kill men or women before child-bearing age and activity? I will take a giant leap -- without doing ANY research -- and say 'NO' to that. In this sense, bananas are totally palaeo. If you are concerned about weight management, then pick your fat model of choice -- the insulin model (i.e., glycemic index/load); the energy model (i.e., calories in/calories out); or macronutrient ratio model (i.e., fat/protein/carb counts) -- not that these are mutually exclusive. Play around with these; you will find that you put on weight with some variation thereof. I have found that I get flabby with high gi meals; carbs happen to congregate in the high gi choir. Notwithstanding, you CAN lower the gi of such foods by pairing them with adequate amounts of fat/fibre. Still, you will have to experiment. Oh, and do exercise a bit; this certainly helps.

0
A03f0d03067a43c61786481d91e5d3a0

(1078)

on February 08, 2012
at 11:19 AM

Unless your paleolithic ancestors lived in the Americas or Southeast Asia, neither bananas nor sweet potatoes are paleo. But starchy tubers like cassavas almost certainly are paleo. Thus the starchiness of bananas and sweet potatoes is not a reason to reject them, though there may be valid reasons to reject them nonetheless.

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 23, 2011
at 09:15 PM

i avoid sweet potatoes cause they are from israel. i try to get local things. Bannanas are poisonous skin if from normal shops. Even organic bannanas are high in sugar and they are developed from the wild bannana.

Medium avatar

(65)

on March 13, 2011
at 11:48 PM

in New Zealand the majority of sweet potato (kumara) are grown here :)

0
Cfccbcf3450ac4919311ded8ef162d49

(2312)

on February 23, 2011
at 08:00 PM

They're starchy and full of sugar, but if the rest of your diet is dialed-in, what would it hurt?

-2
Fbd1bef283e23c058161c28713bb5ac8

on February 07, 2012
at 07:18 PM

canola oil is good, it is higher in omega 3 than olive oil, actually.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on February 07, 2012
at 07:30 PM

This is not germane to the question asked. Furthermore, since there is no "Canola" plant, canola oil (which stands for canadian oil low acid) is most certainly not paleo. The omega-3 amount in canola oil is disputed, since most of the omega-3's are denatured into transfatty acids when canolia is heated. Yet furthermore, oliveoil is generally not considered a great source of omega-3's, but is considered a neutral oil with some omega-3's.

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on March 15, 2012
at 04:32 AM

not that it matters much, but according to wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canola#History, Canola is a plant, as well as the name coming from "Canadian oil, low acid". "Canola was developed through conventional plant breeding from rapeseed, an oilseed plant already used in ancient civilization as a fuel"

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on March 15, 2012
at 04:34 AM

not that it matters much, but according to wiki, Canola is a plant, as well as the name coming from "Canadian oil, low acid". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canola#History "Canola was developed through conventional plant breeding from rapeseed, an oilseed plant already used in ancient civilization as a fuel"

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