A Little Resistance Goes A Long Ways: the Case for Eating Green Bananas + Green Pina Colada Smoothie Recipe

Green bananas, green papayas and green mangos, in addition to being found everywhere in Thailand, are part of a select nutritional group – they are resistant starches that also happen to be among the Yes Please foods on the Plant Paradox program.   If you are trying to cut back on carbs but still want the satisfaction of eating something pleasingly bulky while doing your gut a favor, this special sub-category of carbs cancome to the rescue.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PLAIN OLE STARCH AND RESISTANT STARCH

Starches are long chains of glucose and include most carbohydrates.  They are the object of many a food dream: pasta, potatoes, rice – well actually, most grains.  They are also what are known to feed the bad bacteria which cause disease. However, in the starch family, there is a subcategory known as “resistant starch.”

What, exactly is it resisting?

Digestion. Resistant starch (also called prebiotic fiber) cannot be digested by humans.  Instead, it passes straight through the stomach and the small intestine and gets into the colon (large intestine), where it becomes fertilizer for our good gut bacteria.

Like any other organism, gut bacteria require sustenance. They need to eat, and certain food sources are better than others. In essence, [resistant starch] is top-shelf food for your gut bugs. That’s the basic – and most important – function of [resistant starch].  — Mark Sisson [1]

It also resists:

  • Obesity, as it prompts the release of a gut hormone – peptide YY (PYY) – which increases satiety [2]
  • Diabetes, by helping to reduce your blood sugar [3]
  • Inflamation, which is thought to lower the risk of colorectal cancer and inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crone’s [4]
  • Bad bacteria, by crowding them out [5]

There are other benefits, but you get the idea.  We like resistant starches and could make it a policy to add more of them to our daily diet.  Dr William Davis, in his popular book, Undoctored, says most Americans get only about 3-8 grams of resistant starch per day in their diets, while the maximum benefits begin at 20.  1 medium green banana has about 10.9 grams, making it among the most resistant-starch rich foods available here in the Kingdom. [6]

These defiant starches can improve the entire show down in your gut once you start consuming them regularly.  And since we are really 90% bacteria, mold and funghi, and only 10% human cells (!) [7], what we feed our gut bugs matters.  By contrast, non-resistant starches, like cooked potatoes, pasta and rice, feed the bad gut bugs – the ones that make us sick and miserable.  Sorry.

SOURCES PLANT PARADOX FRIENDLY RESISTANT STARCH

The sources of Plant Paradox friendly resistant starch that are easy to get your hands on in Thailand are:

  • Green papaya – ripe ones are not a resistant starch.  The obvious way to consume this in Thailand is the ever popular Thai salad, som tam.  I will post a modified – plant paradox friendly version soon.
  • Green mangos – ripe ones are not a resistant starch.  The obvious answer to using this is the close cousin to som tam, “yam mao muang,” or green mango salad, made in pretty much the same way as som tom, and particularly dee-lish as an accompaniment to an omelette.
  • Japanese sweet potatoes that have been cooked and cooled.  Boiled Japanese sweet potatoes can often be purchased at FoodLand grocery stores.  I will buy a package or two, stick then in the fridge and hack off a 1 inch long piece to snack on if hunger randomly strikes.  So will my younger son.  They are so so filling that two cooked sweet potatoes will last a week in the fridge before restocking is needed.
  • Green (as in un-ripe) bananas and plantains – ripe ones are not a resistant starch.  So here’s the challenge.  Though they are everywhere here in Thailand, I have never really been turned on by green bananas.  I don’t much care for ripe bananas, and I guess I never saw any reason to go down the green banana path either.

That was before.

Now that I am Plant Paradoxing, I am reconsidering my stance on the humble green banana.

GREEN PINA COLADA SMOOTHIE RECIPE

This smoothie is inspired by the Pina Colada Prebiotic Shake recipe in Dr William Davis’ book, Undoctored.  I try to buy the greenest “hand” of bananas possible and then open them all up – it will take a knife if they are as green as they should be – chop them, and freeze them so they stay green. It’s easy to make your own coconut milk and no reason not to if you live in Thailand (though as a full disclosure, this falls into the “do as I say not as I do” category because it took me a full 12 years of living here before I began making my own).  After I have a batch, I freeze it in 1 cup portions, which makes it convenient for just about anything that needs coconut milk, but especially this recipe.  I let the coconut milk sit out until it melts about half-way and then dump it all into the blender, so the frozen part becomes part of the smoothie.

JUNE 2018 UPDATE:  I’ve gotten even lazier lately and batch freeze the pineapple, green bananas and coconut milk together in 1 or 2 portion containers.  Then let it thaw enough to be blendable, which could take 15-30 minutes before tossing it into the blender with the powdered items – inulin, erythritol and collagen.

It’s also a convenient beverage to pre-prep in individual or 2-person servings, as generally you will have a lot more green bananas, coconut milk and pineapple than required for one recipe.  Just cut the fruit up and store it together in 1 or 2 serving boxes in the fridge – you can even be really lazy and add the coconut milk to the containers.  Let the box thaw for just a few minutes before blitzing it in the blender with the other ingredients.

Can't Resist a Green Pina Colada Smoothie
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 

This smoothie is resistant starch rich - especially if using the inulin - which will feed your good gut bugs.  

Course: Drinks
Servings: 2 people
Ingredients
  • 2 very green banana chopped
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen pineapple
  • 2 tsp erythritol
  • 2 tsp inulin optional
  • 2 tsp collagen optional
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes

References:

  1. https://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-definitive-guide-to-resistant-starch/
  2. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/07/04/unripe-banana-papaya-mango-benefits.aspx
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/resistant-starch-101#section4
  4. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/resistant-starch-101#section3
  5. http://drhyman.com/blog/2016/03/24/the-starch-that-makes-you-lean-and-healthy/
  6. Davis, MD, Dr William. Undoctored. New York:  Rodale, 2017.
  7. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/resistant-starch-101#section2

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