What is green banana flour? Learn more about this nutritious ingredient, its benefits and how it can be used in paleo, gluten-free and grain-free cooking in today’s blog post.
With taking on a paleo diet or making changes such as going gluten-free or grain-free comes a whole slew of new-to-you ingredients. Or at least it was that way for me! As I myself get curious about these unusual foods, I like to highlight some of them on the blog to encourage you to give them a go.
For this article, I’ll be focusing on green banana flour. You’re probably thinking, “How many things can you possible make flour out of?!” The answer is a LOT. Most starchy fruits and veggies can be dried and ground down into something that works like wheat flour just because of its structure.
Fortunately, for those of us avoiding grains, the abundance of flour substitutes is something to embrace! It offers flexibility in terms of the types of recipes we can recreate and it also offers fabulous nutrition. Today, I wanted to talk about one of the most nutritious foods out there that I think is worth all the bold claims.
What is green banana flour?
For many folks, green banana flour is not a common household pantry item. This isn’t true in places where banana plants are native though. In Jamaica, the Caribbean, and Africa, banana flour is often used in place of wheat flour because it’s more economical.
Green banana flour is simply the yield of green, under-ripe bananas. Not just under-ripe either; it has to be green to have the benefits! While these aren’t exactly a tasty snack, they are nutritious for numerous reasons (which I’ll cover down the road) and dry up into a very effective flour replacement. You can even make your own with a few bundles of green bananas, a little sunshine, and a mortar and pestle!
Not only is it a fantastic flour replacement for gluten-free eaters – it’s actually used as a supplement to boost resistant starch (a type of gut-friendly fibre).
While raw banana flour has a slight banana flavour to it, baked banana flour actually has a rather neutral, mild, and earthy flavour meaning you can use it for both sweet and savoury dishes. Pancakes anyone? That’s where my mind goes first!
The sustainability of green banana flour
To begin, let’s start with the big picture. There’s plenty of controversy in terms of sustainable food, and it’s important to look at the health of our planet when we consider healthy choices for us.
The good news? Well, green banana flour is a very sustainable choice. This is because the ‘waste’ green bananas have a way to be processed into a whole food with a long shelf life and increasing demand for those – especially in western countries where this food is a bit of a fad having its moment.
Millions of bananas – and tons of produce in general – goes to waste during the processing and transportation of the foods because they get damaged and don’t look ‘pretty’ but some clever producers found a way to use up those less appealing bananas into flour and other products instead. Purchasing such sustainable products helps to support makers and keeps the whole demand/supply chain going forward.
You can search for green banana flour in your local health food stores or purchase it online on Amazon or directly from the suppliers. Do a simple Google search in your country and see what takes your fancy.
P.S. If you’ve got bananas going bad, make some banana bread!
The nutritional benefits of green banana flour
It’s all about the resistant starch. Resistant starch – a type if fibre – is a fantastic source of prebiotics. While probiotics replenish our gut with a variety of good bacteria, it is the prebiotics that provides the proper fuel to keep the good bacteria happy and maintain a healthy gut flora. Prebiotics are found in lots of fibrous foods such as fruits and vegetables, but it is especially beneficial in a form of resistant starch which is found in white potatoes, bananas (especially green bananas), white rice and legumes.
It provides three different types of fibre.
Green banana flour contains 42-52.8 grams of resistant starch per cup. In fact, green banana flour delivers the highest amount of resistant starch found in any food!
Resistant starch is a fermentable fibre, passing through the intestines undigested. This fermentation process delivers short-chain fatty acids that our bodies love – namely, butyrate (a.k.a. why I love grass-fed butter!). Moreover, resistant starch can reduce the glycaemic load of foods making them easier on your blood sugar levels.
Many foods that do contain resistant starch end up losing some during the cooking process, or do not contain such a concentrated amount. Because of the low-heat processing of green banana flour and the ability to supplement with it raw, it’s easily the most effective and potent way to get in your daily serving of resistant starch.
Resistant starch is known to be effective for treating obesity, type 2 diabetes, and reducing the risk of colon cancer.
Additionally, green banana flour contains inulin and insoluble fibre, which also act as prebiotics. This trio of fibre can act as a mild laxative effect which is one of the only downsides (or upsides, depending on what you need).
It contains some 5HTP.
5HTP or 5-hydroxytryptophan isn’t commonly found in foods, but it is a powerful supplement. It helps to increase serotonin production in the brain quite like many antidepressants. Unlike SSRIs, 5HTP does not have any negative side effects or long-term associated dangers. This makes green banana flour a really nice supplement if you struggle with depression, moods, anxiety, sleep, and headaches.
It’s mineral-rich superfood.
Green banana flour packs in a punch of essential minerals your body will thank you for. Consider the other superfoods you add to your smoothie to get those micronutrients in, and maybe add a scoop of green banana flour next time. You can expect a healthy dose of zinc, magnesium, phosphorous, and manganese.
- Zinc is essential for a healthy immune system, healing, brain function, skin/hair/nail health, and is especially important for young kids during development.
- Magnesium is great for sore muscles, recovery, sleep, and pH balance.
- Phosphorous aids the body in its natural detoxification efforts helps cells to repair themselves, and keeps our hearts beating at a normal pace.
- Manganese influences our metabolism in a positive way which may lead to an easier time with weight loss and management, in addition, to increase absorption of calcium.
… and that’s just the most important stuff. In short, mineral balance is a massive indicator of overall health, and many issues are rooted in deficiencies – even minor ones. Any “miracle” powder that actually has substantial nutrition is a winner in my book, and green banana flour passes the fitness test, so to speak.
It’s naturally gluten-free & grain-free.
Banana is mostly non-allergenic. It’s friendly for paleo dieters, people who follow healing diets like the autoimmune protocol, vegan and vegetarian eaters, and most average folks without a banana allergy. When it comes to gluten-free and grain-free flour alternatives, it’s a really solid choice. It doesn’t contain the anti-nutrients and gut irritants found in wheat flour, and it’s safe for coeliacs.
It’s great for weight loss.
Due to its high fibre content, green banana flour is a filling supplement in the diet that also helps you meet nutritional needs. It’s fantastic to have an easy option to fill in nutritional gaps while also helping stick to an eating plan that aids in weight loss. I always recommend fibrous foods because they slow down digestion, keep you fuller for longer, and they keep your blood sugar stable which should lessen the frequency and intensity with which you experience cravings.
Its high starch content actually comes in handy.
While some folks (like people who follow the keto diet, for example) are quick to shun starch, sometimes, more is less. Because green banana has such a high starch content, you can use 25-30% less banana flour than wheat. This can stretch your dollar and overall equate to less energy intake – another convincing argument for green banana flour for weight loss!
How to use green banana flour in paleo cooking
Hopefully, now you’ve picked up that you can use green banana flour both as a flour substitute in recipes that call for it and as a supplement. Additionally, one of the most interesting studies done with green banana flour is the use of it to increase the indigestible carbohydrates in pasta. Could resistant starch be the key to enjoying carbs with fewer calories and less of a glycaemic load overall? Perhaps! The “enriched” pasta also had a higher antioxidant capacity, so perhaps green banana flour will determine a brighter future for carbs. I think we could all appreciate that!
If you’re not up to conducting your own science experiments in the kitchen, here are a few more approachable uses for green banana flour.
Using green banana flour as a supplement.
Green banana flour has a similar texture to cassava flour or coconut flour and a mild, neutral taste. It’s usually off-white, greyish colour and can be used in raw or in cooked recipes.
As a supplement, simply add 1-2 tablespoons to your smoothie, yoghurt, bliss balls, or whatever raw food you are having that can handle a little extra “super powers.” Remember – banana flour is more potent and provides more resistant starch when consumed raw.
Try these green banana flour recipes!
- Banana flour chocolate chip cake from Feasting on Fruit
- Banana flour waffles from The Healthful Pursuit
- Green banana flour brownie bites from E.A. Stewart
- Banana flour crepes with tahini & honey from Sweet Pea Darling Heart
- Banana flour berry breakfast muffins from Sarah Bell Nutrition
- Banana flour chocolate chip cookies from Fitnessista
Now let me know – are you excited and intrigued by banana flour? Whether you’re using it daily or it’s a brand new item to you, I want to encourage you to seek out more knowledge about these incredible additions to the diet. Make sure to share this article if you enjoyed it.