This article is written by: Beverly Garden, RDN, LDN. Beverly is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Health, Nutrition and Food Writer who has worked in the field of nutrition for over 25 years.
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What if there was a food that could help prevent or control numerous diseases and conditions? One that could help promote optimal health and wellness? A food that is readily available and economical as well?
Well, believe it or not, such a food DOES exist! That food is green banana flour!
In recent years, research has placed a spotlight on the amazing health benefits of green banana flour. In fact, it could be argued that green banana flour just might be the newest superfood!
But, before we delve into a discussion on the benefits of green banana flour, let’s first talk about what it is and where it comes from.
Note: Whole green bananas deliver most of the same advantages as green banana flour, but they are less versatile and have a much shorter shelf-life. Therefore, this article will focus specifically on green banana flour.
What is Green Banana Flour, Exactly?
Green banana flour is made by drying peeled bananas and grinding them into a powder or “flour”. About 18-20 pounds of green banana are required to make approximately 2 pounds of flour.
Green banana flour has been used in cooking and baking in the Caribbean, Central America and Africa for centuries. Raw green banana flour has a mild banana flavor which changes to an earthy, nutty flavor when subjected to the higher temperatures of cooking or baking.
Resistant Starch: One of the Greatest Benefits of Green Banana Flour
Green banana flour contains extraordinarily high levels of resistant starch, which is a type of starch that passes through your body without being digested or broken down in the small intestine. In fact, green banana flour has the highest resistant starch content of ANY food!
It is this off-the-charts resistant starch content that gives green banana flour many of its super powers! Keep reading to learn why!
Improved Gut Health and More!
Because resistant starch, such as that found in green banana flour, is not broken down in the small intestine, it becomes available to ferment in the large intestine and it then feeds the “good” bacteria in the gut. This classifies resistant starch as a prebiotic and results in many health benefits.
In addition, when resistant starch is fermented, it produces a type of short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) called butyrate. Butyrate plays an important role in intestinal health, digestion, nutrient absorption, PH balance and it lowers the risk of certain cancers.
Below are some of the well-established benefits associated with prebiotics and/or the production of butyrate during fermentation:
- Bowel regulation– improves or prevents constipation and loose stools
- Decreases colon cancer risk
- Regulates metabolism
- Improves immunity
- Improves absorption of magnesium, iron and calcium
- Helps prevent osteoporosis
In addition, several studies have suggested that a healthy gut microbiome may help prevent diabetes, depression and diabetes.
Finally, green banana flour may play a role in mitigating the negative effects that antibiotic use has on gut integrity and the balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in the gut. On study in mice demonstrated that those who were given green banana flour after antibiotic use experienced better gut repair and a higher boost in beneficial bacteria growth than those who were not.
Lower Glycemic Index
Green banana flour has a lower glycemic index than other types of flour. This means that the resistant starch in green banana flour is digested slowly, which reduces the amount of sugar circulating in the blood at one time. The resulting benefit is fewer blood sugar spikes and the prevention or improved control of type 2 diabetes.
Improved Insulin Sensitivity
The high resistant starch content of green banana flour also promotes better insulin sensitivity. When resistant starches such as those in green banana flour are consumed, the body is able to respond to and process higher blood sugar levels more efficiently. This decreases the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
In one study in which both lean and obese subjects who were given banana starch supplementation, both groups had lower glucose levels after meals and improved insulin responses than those who did not take banana starch supplementation.
Improved Satiety After Eating
Resistant starches are harder to digest, causing them to stay in the stomach longer. In addition, they stimulate the release of hormones that help control hunger. Simply stated, the resistant starch in green banana flour helps you stay fuller longer and keeps you more satisfied after eating.
Lowers Cholesterol Levels
Green banana flour may promote lower total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. Its high resistant starch and fiber content are believed to contribute to this benefit.
Other Benefits of Green Banana Flour
As discussed above, many of green banana flour’s benefits are related to its high resistant starch content. However, there are several additional advantages of green banana flour.
High in Antioxidants
Green banana flour is high in antioxidants. Antioxidants fight free radicals in the body, which, in excess, have been linked to the development of diabetes and cancer.
High in Several Important Nutrients
Green banana flour is rich in several key health-promoting nutrients. Some of these nutrients include:
- Potassium—lowers blood pressure and helps regulate muscle function
- Vitamin C—plays important roles in immunity and collagen synthesis
- Magnesium—helps regulate blood sugar, muscle function, and energy production
- Fiber—promotes heart health, bowel health, colon cancer prevention and diabetes control and prevention
Gluten-Free Flour Alternative
Green banana flour is gluten-free and is therefore a great product for those who have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Its mild flavor and similar texture to wheat flour make it an ideal alternative.
Try Using Green Banana Flour
Green banana flour is an amazing product that is gaining recognition in western cultures. Its increase in popularity can be attributed to its role in health promotion and disease prevention.
Many of the benefits of green banana flour come from its exceptional resistant starch content. Other properties of green banana flour, such as its high levels of antioxidants, fiber and certain vitamins and minerals, provide great health advantages as well.
Green banana flour is also a sound gluten-free alternative to wheat flour for those who have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
If you haven’t yet tried green banana flour, consider doing so! Your health will thank you for it!
Amanda is a pizza loving registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in mindfulness and gut health. She quickly realized that gut health goes beyond the gut; it is also about honoring our gut feelings. She is the creator of The Mindful Gut™ which uses science and strategy to help people improve their gut health.