Are you on a grain free diet? Are you unable to use almond flour due to a nut allergy? Are you looking for gluten free flours that make fluffy baked goods? If so, green banana flour may be a great option for you!
WHAT IS GREEN BANANA FLOUR?
Green banana flour is made of unripe green bananas that are peeled, sliced, dried, and ground into flour. It’s a very clean and minimally processed ingredient.
It has gained popularity in the US in the past few years for its light, fluffy baking results. This is likely due in part to the rise in celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity that has caused people to search for grain free alternatives.
Green banana flour is gluten-free, paleo friendly, vegan, and nut-free. The flour has a beige color and will darken the color of your baked goods. I was very surprised the first time I cooked with it—it looked like I made chocolate muffins because the flour turned that dark!
Green banana flour is lighter and fluffier than almond flour or coconut flour, which are well known and commonly used grain-free alternatives.
Raw green banana flour has a mild banana taste. Cooked banana flour has a subtle, earthy flavor that blends well with other ingredients.
However, if you really don’t like bananas, you may still be able to taste a hint of it. My husband doesn’t like bananas and he says he can taste banana in the baked goods I’ve made with the flour.
Green banana flour, while relatively new in the US, has been around for a long time. It’s been used for centuries in Jamaica, Africa, South America and parts of Asia as a less expensive substitute for costly wheat flour.
“As early as 1900, banana flour was sold in Central America under the brand-name Musarina and marketed as beneficial for those with stomach problems and pains. During World War I the U.S. Department of Agriculture considered plans to produce banana flour as a substitute for wheat and rye flours.”
Banana flour is also used in animal feed in numerous countries.
Green banana flour offers more nutritional value than many refined flours. One cup has:
- Potassium – 43% of the recommended daily intake or value (DV)
- Manganese – 29% DV
- Magnesium – 27% DV
- Vitamin B6 – 22% DV
- Copper 20% DV
- Riboflavin – 14% DV
- Niacin – 14% DV
- Vitamin C – 12% DV
- Thiamine – 12% DV
- Phosphorus – 7% DV
- Iron – 6% DV
- Selenium – 6% DV
- Vitamin A – 5% DV
It also has a small amount of calcium, folate, vitamin E, vitamin K, and zinc.
Potassium accomplishes many important health functions to include benefits for the following: stroke, heart disorders, anxiety/stress, high blood pressure, muscle strength, electrolytic functions, metabolism, and the nervous system.
Manganese is fundamental for certain enzymes, especially those that protect us from oxidants.
Green banana flour is also high in magnesium, which is plays an important role in the skeleton and muscles. It is also necessary in more than 300 metabolic reactions.
If you make homemade Gatorade for yourself or your kids in the summer, green banana flour is a fantastic addition!
- Flour in baking
- Thickener for sauces, stews, soups, gravy, pudding, smoothies
- Breading for meats and vegetables
HIGH IN RESISTANT STARCH
When you think of starch, you probably think of high-carbohydrate foods like pretzels, crackers, or noodles—items made from refined flour. But not all starches are created equal!
Banana flour contains high levels of resistant starch. Resistant starch slows the digestion of carbs and it resists digestion in the small intestine. Because resistant starch is processed more slowly, you don’t get the blood sugar and insulin spike you’d expect from a high-starch food.
RESISTANT STARCH HEALTH BENEFITS
Resistant starch is a prebiotic because it fuels the good bacteria in our gut. As a result, these good bacteria produce helpful short chain fatty acids (SCFA). A very important SCFA, butyrate, keeps the cells lining the colon healthy to include fighting cancerous cells.
Butyrate acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent for the colonic cells, and improves the integrity of our gut by decreasing intestinal permeability, keeping toxins in the gut and out of the bloodstream.
Maintaining a healthy gut is critical to overall health as it is linked to nutrient absorption, hormone production, autoimmune conditions, and many other facets of our well being.
If you want to use green banana flour as a prebiotic, start slowly as it can cause a detoxification response. Gas and bloating are common.
If you experience significant discomfort, decrease the amount for several days or until you feel better, and then try increasing the amount slowly.
Studies indicate that the benefits of resistant starch may be seen when consuming around 15 to 30 grams per day.
Consuming resistant starch may improve metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic Syndrome is a set of risk factors including high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, high blood sugar, and obesity. Having these health issues increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
This research conducted on rats fed resistant starch showed that total cholesterol and triacylglycerol levels were lowered.
This study showed the use of resistant starch decreased the levels of various types of cholesterols found in the subjects (they also lost weight).
This study conducted on mice demonstrated that a dietary supplement of butyrate (formed by good bacteria in the gut when you consume prebiotics) can prevent and treat diet-induced insulin resistance.
This study looked at the effects of banana starch on glycemic responses in both obese and lean subjects. Researchers concluded banana starch improved glucose and insulin responses after eating.
Resistant starch helps you feel full sooner and stay full longer. The potential for weight loss is from eating less due to being full sooner during the meal (you stop eating sooner than you would normally) and being full longer (you go longer between meals and/or you don’t snack).
This study revealed a reduction in calorie consumption by those consuming unripe banana flour.
In this study, patients who consumed banana starch lost more weight than when they were on the control treatment.
More Easily Tolerated
Because resistant starch is fermented slowly in the large intestine, it may be better tolerated by individuals with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other digestive disorders since it leads to less gas formation than other fibers.
Another good source of resistant starch is raw or unmodified potato starch (not potato flour). It tastes kind of bland and can be added by sprinkling it on your food or mixing it in a beverage.
This comparative study does a great job of capturing all the health benefits:
Resistant Starch type II (RS II) is present in green bananas which is involved in disease prevention including modulation of glycemic index, diabetes, cholesterol lowering capability and weight management.
It improves digestion health by resisting starch hydrolyzing enzymes in the stomach and thus acts as dietary fibre.
RS II breaks down into short chain fatty acids & raises the pH level of large intestine which creates adverse conditions for pathogenic bacteria while favoring the growth of beneficial bacteria.
Butyrate, one of the short fatty acids, inhibits the development of malignant cells which can become cancerous. It increases faecal bulking which promotes colon health and also acts as a rehydrating agent for those suffering from diarrhea.
It helps in slow digestion of blood glucose and insulin level. Low insulin level triggers the use of body fat and helps in prevention of type II diabetes and manages obesity. It binds bile acids, cholesterol in digestive system and prevents their absorption from blood stream.
Apart from these it also helps in prevention of osteoporosis by increasing the absorption of calcium and other minerals including magnesium, iron, etc. It also serves as a carrier of probiotics to the large intestine where they can maximize their benefits which include boosting the immune system.
RESISTANT STARCH & COOKING
If heated above 140 degrees F, resistant starch is no longer resistant. So if you’re interested in the health benefits of resistant starch, you need to take your green banana flour raw (in a smoothie or cold drink).
If gluten free or grain free is the goal, then bake away! After cooking, a small portion of the starches will turn back into resistant starch as the food cools, but it’s only a fraction. However, it’s not totally devoid of benefit!
This study showed that cooked banana starch had a significant fraction of slowly digestible starch.
Other researchers did similar tests adding banana flour to bread. Even though it was cooked, this increased the resistant starch content of the final product causing a significant reduction in the glycemic index.
Bananas with blemishes or weird shapes are thrown out because people won’t buy them at the grocery store. In India alone, over 5 million tons of bananas are wasted every year due to post-harvest losses.
Green banana flour provides a partial solution to this challenge. Many manufacturers use bananas for flour that would otherwise be discarded. It reduces waste, increases profit for the farmer, and provides a fantastic food ingredient for those of us trying to broaden our health horizons.
HOW MUCH DO I USE?
It might take a little trial and error to get your recipes perfect, but use about 25% less banana flour when substituting green banana flour for regular flour.
Green banana flour is a healthy, easy, and well-suited alternative for baking and for the endeavor of improved well-being.
When you shop for green banana flour, quality suppliers use organically grown bananas and they don’t add anything else to the product. I’ve been experimenting with these brands: Let’s Do Organic, Live Kuna, and Blue Lily Organics.
If you’re wanting to try something out, I’ve come up with a tasty, basic pancake recipe here.