How much alcohol in a banana ?

When I gave up alcohol altogether I never realized how difficult it would be. Not because of addiction but people would say to me “do you know how much alcohol in a banana”?

I would go serious for a moment and laugh it off. After all I was determined to go alcohol free to save my life because of a health issue.

But it did freak me out a bit!

So I then wondered rather than people thinking of me stashing a bottle of vodka in my bag ( I have hardly ever drunk vodka in my life ) but maybe they thought I had a stash of bananas.


If you don't drink alcohol


I mean really was this what I was up against.

But when you look at alcohol in natural products you begin to realize that when you start to give up something like alcohol its in everything.

This was coming true of the poor simple banana.

Yet I was given several bananas in hospital when I was really ill, so did they even know it might be an issue?

I could see a “banana gate” scandal coming and my health going down hill fast again and all because of alcohol in bananas!

It’s a bit like giving up wheat or nuts. It’s in everything!

So I decided to look and dig a bit deeper about the amount of alcohol in bananas.

It turns out I don’t think I needed to be worried after all.

Should I be worried about my ripe banana with my cereal ?

If you look at different studies all over the world about alcohol and food well bananas come up a lot. I kid you not!

How Much Alcohol is in a Banana?

If you do a search you will see ethanol rather than alcohol talked about which is what is “produced” into our alcohol drinks and is often a byproduct of any fermentation.

Fermentation is when sugar in the right circumstances including the presence of yeast and heat turns into alcohol.

Now I often talk about ABV a lot and that stands for alcohol by volume, I really use it to make sure my drink has zero alcohol in it and for me it’s crucial.

Have you been served alcohol free to find out it’s not!

I know I have.

It is one of the reasons I was concerned about the latest Gordon’s alcohol free gin offering and the green bottle.

Gordons Alcohol Free Gin

You can read my review of Gordon’s Alcohol Free Gin here

It is now generally considered by University studies worldwide that if you test a ripe banana you could see up to 0.4 % abv.

The University of Kaiserslautern did a brilliant study which looked at kids and alcohol.

They also looked at alcohol in bananas.

Now what is interesting is that they actually found that other foods have even more alcohol than my morning banana!

The University of Kaiserslautern looked at one brand of burger rolls containing 1.28% ABV
alcohol content.

So basically kids are being exposed to alcohol let alone people who are just trying to avoid for health or any other reason.

So in some case kids were exposed to 10.3 mg ethanol per kg of weight.

Now if you were making of drugs or should I say medicines like over the counter you would have to flag if the alcohol content was around 6.0 mg/kg

Cod Medicine can contain alcohol

It’s actually extraordinary that some people don’t realize how much alcohol is in some medicines and even more than some alcohol filled desserts for example.

Always know your alcohol limits through drink aware

So should I be worried about my alcohol free beer?

Yep some alcohol-free beer does contain a trace of alcohol. Even Heinekien Alcohol Free Beer has on its label that it contains no more than 0.05% alcohol.

Alcohol Free Beer

Of course many alcohol free beers like Bavaria have nothing at all so less than your banana and they are branded 0.0 so its no wonder consumers of alcohol free drinks get confused.

0.05 % is almost untraceable!

0.5% ABV and below around the world is seen as alcohol free in terms of beers, wines and gins.

You can read my best alcohol free beer brand here

Now can I live my life totally alcohol free?

Well kind of but if you eat a balanced diet it’s almost impossible to avoid a trace of alcohol.

But food with alcohol is considered to be “non alcoholic” so why is that?

How is alcohol made then?

It all depends on ethanol or alcohol fermentation and it’s actually more common than you think.

You get the concept of yeast right?

Well it’s used in all sorts of food and drinks. It’s like the “ignition” to fermentation. It’s like a kick start!

So if you add yeast to sugars and provide the right conditions, it turns into ethanol (alcohol) and the gas co2 so carbon dioxide.

Sugar is turned into alcohol

So many of the alcohol free brands that I support on the blog create beers that are under that all important threshold.

I should say at this point that because of my health I only go for 0.0% beers.

Read my review of alcohol free beer brands and choices here

But under 0.5% ABV both the big and smaller alcohol free brands take out the alcohol altogether or in some cases depending on how they do so some trace of that alcohol may remain.

However just think of all the food including bread made with yeast

Bread Yeast and Alcohol

If your food is fermented in some way scientists point out that it will have yeast somewhere in the process and some trace of alcohol unless it cooked out!

Of course when my Gran was making her bread in the so called “pantry” she just used natural fermentation that occurred with of course the right temperature.

So even food where the purpose was not to create alcohol it can just ferment naturally.

If you left fruit out in the sun for example, some alcohol could occur.

It is actually a natural phenomenon.

Spontaneous fermentation is why some foods and drinks that haven’t been intentionally fermented can also contain alcohol.

University Research

The team at University of Kaiserslautern basically looked at how we are exposed to alcohol, even when we think we are not.

Of course, it’s an emotionally charged issue.

Even some celebrities have been lambasted for allowing their kids to drink completely 0.0% beer with no alcohol whatsoever!

This is opposed to some cultures where kids just get a small glass of wine with their meal and nothing is said about it. People’s view on alcohol are strange sometimes.

And no I am no judging either option actually.

So according to the research food from bananas, breads to some yogurts all contain some fermented ethanol so alcohol up to just over 1% as a percentage.

Yoghurt Alcohol and Fruit


You can read how much alcohol in orange juice here.

The study on alcohol of course scared the pants so most people as you food expect kids to eat food so they would be exposed more to a trace of alcohol, than we would first imagine.

If you do a comparison to a big glass of wine or whiskey for example it is like peanuts!

Just look at the abv, so alcohol by volume figures on alcohol drinks and it really does become insignificant.

But I can understand where the survey raised alarm bells.

However, a comparison and contrast of the reality including that of an alcohol free drink when compared to your banana which I had for breakfast should give it some perspective.

Should I worry about my health if I eat a banana?

It’s unlikely that you’ll need to avoid all foods and drinks that contain alcohol if you’re dependent on alcohol.

The amount of alcohol in the foods and drinks listed above is nowhere near enough to get you drunk. And – unlike low-alcohol and non-alcoholic beer – it doesn’t provide the sensory cues that can make you want to drink alcoholic drinks.

However, your medical experts like a doctor or dietitian are a great source of information. I saw a diet expert for a while and it really changed my approach to eating.

How much alcohol in my banana ?

They also helped me to not worry about a trace of alcohol in foods like a banana.

So if you have concerns always please check. It is also highly unlikely that if you have an issue with refraining from alcoholic drink that it would trigger a reaction to go back to alcohol.

If fact many people don’t even know that there is some trace of alcohol in a banana for example.

You can check out my favorite alcohol free wine online here

The one area to flag if you are waiting for a liver transplant is they are very sensitive to alcohol and then best check.

It also said that an alcohol free drink could allow you to get back an addiction. If you are unsure, get advice and refrain.

Personally I am able to enjoy alcohol free drinks so 0.0% without this worry but everyone is unique.

The two areas I would flag though is some medicines have very high levels of alcohol and so do some dessert in restaurants.

My Mum and her sherry trifle for example is an issue but that is another matter.

Desserts can be stacked with alcohol

In fact both of those areas are of more a concern to be than natural fermentation in a banana for example.

In terms of medicine always check with your pharmacist and that is what they are there to do without judging you. I have occasionally had that bad stare

I have straight away pulled them up on it in public If I need to.

Their job is to advise not to judge your reason for not engaging with alcohol. My personal GP is however very helpful and always has been.

Did you know about a banana and alcohol?

What other unexpected everyday foods and drinks have you come across that contain alcohol?

And would you be OK to have a non alcoholic beer with just a trace of alcohol or would it need to be totally alcohol free?.

What about natural food and fermentation, does it bother you even though the amount is minor in the big scheme of things?

I would love to hear your views on how much alcohol is in a banana ! Leave your comments below and I always get back to you.



6 thoughts on “How much alcohol in a banana?”

  1. That is a fascinating post.  In all my days of eating well ripened bananas, I never ever thought that they contained alcohol.

    I know that for you it is a very serious issue, but I had to smile, as many people I know are anti alcohol and pride themselves in never having had alcohol pass their lips.  But I bet they’ve had a banana!  Or over ripe ones in banana bread!

    But seriously it is very important for some people like yourself to fully aware for health reasons, and can be a matter of life and death.

     I think that it is very interesting to read that many of the non alcoholic beverages actually do contain trace elements, which is a pity as you can’t stand in a bar and ask to examine the bottle before you order.

    Thanks for bringing this important information to our attention.

    Keep up the good work.

    • Wow a great comment !

      Thanks Geoff , much appreciated and to be fair I expect that there will be a trace in some food.

      Navigating alcohol free drinks can be more if a challenge but I’m getting used to the labels now!  

      I try to keep these things lighthearted and you make a great observation about alcohol and people forget fermentation can be in food as well as alcohol drinks.

      I loved reading your response and it made me smile. Thanks so much for taking time out to comment on how much alcohol is in a banana? All the very best, Phil 

  2. A completely eye-opening article, I find. Who would have thought that bananas contain alcohol because it is one of the first so-called foods that will be given to babies also? But I believe that the drink comes from the saccharide, if you leave the bananas in the sun on the table, so to speak, the alcohol does form during the spoilage, at least I think so. But if you put it in the refrigerator, for example, you probably shouldn’t experience this process. Yes, and if you start thinking about why raisins are so sweet, then by drying, they become sweet. A fascinating topic; I immediately wondered what fruit is still high in sugar.

    • Hey Lea, thanks so much for commenting on how much alcohol in a banana. I am pleased you found it interesting. 

      To be honest once you realise alcohol is and can be naturally occuring I think its very interesting and you summed it up well. 

      It can be very confusing and you maybe interested in my thoughts on fruit juice as an alternative to alcohol. 

      I really enjoyed reading your comments. Much appreciated, Phil

  3. This article of yours is most interesting. Of course I know about fermentation as a natural process, but I also wonder what your health condition is if you can’t have any. I always ferment my wholewheat rice first before cooking it into a risotto. That’s because I want to take advantage of the healthy bacteria. Those you find in wine and beer too. I understand it is a difficult choice. 

    • Hi Karin, thanks for this. 

      Yes I have to accept that there is alcohol in many natural products and I do not worry to much about it including eating a banana. 

      I guess the example was to illustrate the amount of alcohol in a banana as opposed to a alcohol free beer which can go up to 0.5% abv. 

      Its an interesting comparision.

      Interesting about your rice as I had never thought of that! I learned something today. 

      I am happy to talk about my health condition which is liver disease so clearly I try and limit alcohol in my system as its not good for a stressed liver. 

      In terms of alcoholic drinks it quite an easy choice really which is why I am really passionate about alcohol free options. 

      Of course many people avoid alcohol for lots of reasons. 

      Thanks so much for a great comment and I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on how much alcohol in a banana. 

      All the best and thanks for stopping by. Phil


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