What is Banana Flour: Benefits, Nutrition, and Uses
Superfoods are the food items to have if you want to stick to a clean, wholesome diet. Green banana flour is creating a buzz among health buffs and foodies alike for its wonderful health benefits. Expand your knowledge on this curious ingredient and see how it will apply to your food routine.
But First, Let’s Discuss the Banana
Before delving into the wonders of banana flour, let us first talk about its fruit source. Bananas are a popular fruit—a lot of people enjoy eating it as a snack, a dessert or as an ingredient in lots of dishes both savory and sweet. Many love its sweet flavor and squashy yet smooth texture. It grows in clusters referred to as a bunch.
The banana’s flesh is the edible part of the fruit and is eaten raw when ripe while its peel is thrown away. The plant’s flower, which is referred to as the heart or blossom, is also edible and is used as an ingredient in plenty of South Asian and Southeast Asian dishes. Bananas can also be boiled, fried, steamed, or mashed to be used in fruit shakes. Its sizable leaves are used to wrap items and even as an umbrella due to its waterproof properties.
This scrumptious fruit is grown in more than 100 countries all over the world. The tree though comes originally from Southeast Asia and Australia. Plantains, which are a starchier type of banana is native to the Caribbean islands.
Bananas are quite healthy apart from being delicious. They are prime sources of vitamins C, B6 and potassium. Health buffs often grab a banana for a snack since it gives them a quick burst of energy. They are filling so it makes for a healthy, lightweight grub and very versatile to boot.
What is Green Banana Flour Exactly?
In places like the Caribbean Islands and Africa, green banana flour is used in all sorts of dishes and is considered to be a common kitchen ingredient. Lots of people from those areas make use of banana flour because it’s more reasonably priced compared to wheat flour.
What is the primary ingredient used on how to make banana flour? Is it ripe bananas or those immature, green ones? You guessed it right; bananas used to make this kind of flour are the unripe kind. Green bananas do not have the taste and the texture of ripe ones but it also comes with the best health benefits. It dries up into flour that is quite versatile.
Raw green banana flour still retains a bit of the fruit’s original flavor and tang, however, once cooked or baked, the flour gives off a mild, neutral yet earthy taste which makes it perfect for dishes both savory and sweet.
How is Banana Flour Made?
In order to make banana flour, manufacturers peel, chop, dry and ground green, unripe bananas. The procedure can be accomplished manually; the bananas are dried by means of laying it out under the sun, through an oven or by using a food dryer. After drying, the bananas are ground using a mortar and pestle or through faster means using a mechanical grinder.
To make at least a kilogram of the stuff, one needs 8 to 10 kilograms of unripe bananas. These days, there are bigger commercial productions of green banana flour in places like South America and Africa.
You can also make banana flour at home. The process is pretty simple; you will not need fancy equipment but it will take some elbow grease. All you need to do is gather your unripe bananas, steam them for several minutes to reduce its tackiness and make the peeling process easier, peel and chop the bananas into bits and allow the banana bits to soak in 5 percent citric acid for half an hour. After draining the items, you let it dry, ground the dried mix and put through a sieve to remove all rough bits and make the flour smoother.
Why Use This Flour Type?
Using banana flour presents several advantages. For one, it makes for a sustainable food ingredient. There are lots of bananas that get damaged on their way to manufacturing plants so it results in a surplus of damaged unripe fruits. Thus, smart manufacturers discovered a means to make use of those excess bananas by turning it into flour. By buying sustainable items, you will be rewarding these manufacturers, thereby maintaining a healthy chain of supply and demand.
Due to its neutral, earthy flavor, it can be used in both sweet and savory cooking. It has characteristics that are similar to wheat flour thus it’s also a neat substitute to it. The higher starch content of the flour also calls for minimal use of it compared to what you’d usually deal with in standard recipes.
Green banana flour has also made its way to the kitchens of individuals stricken with celiac disease or people who follow a strict gluten-free diet. Moreover, because the bananas used to make the flour are immature, its sugar content does not develop completely. Thus, banana flour contains lower sugars.
Banana flour is an efficient and versatile ingredient that’s not only great for baked dishes; it’s also excellent for thickening sauces and soups. Thinking of an effective coating for your vegetable and shrimp tempura? You can also use this nifty ingredient.
The Health Benefits of Banana Flour
Green banana flour has a load of health benefits. That is why it is gaining ground in lots of kitchens all over the country. Here are its awesome advantages.
- It contains effective prebiotics
Starch is a fiber, and this flour has plenty of it, making it a substantial source of prebiotics. Prebiotics are responsible for giving good bacteria inside our gut the energy they need plus it also retains healthier stomach flora.
Due to its rich prebiotic content, the flour also helps in digestion. It supports good bacteria which thrive inside our colon, stomach and the bowels. When these parts are healthy and happy, this leads to better ingestion and bowel movements.
- It has a high level of minerals
Ripe bananas already come with substantial vitamins and minerals that our body needs so what about the green ones? Green banana flour is very beneficial thanks to the source—it has a considerable quantity of manganese, zinc, magnesium and phosphorous.
Manganese is needed for better metabolism and calcium absorption. Zinc makes for an improved immune system and brain function, better skin, nails and hair, and rapid healing. Magnesium is for better sleep and recovery, good pH balance and for easing sore muscles while phosphorous helps in detoxifying the body the natural way and enhanced cell repair.
- It contains three fiber kinds
Due to the extensive amount of resistant starch in green banana flour, it can help combat stomach disorders and maintain a healthier environment in the gut. Apart from resistant starch, the flour also contains two more fiber types – inulin plus insoluble fiber. These fiber types also function as prebiotics thus they also provide the same benefits as resistant starch.
- It has 5-hydroxytryptophan (5HTP)
5HTP is a material that is not usually present in most food items. However, it has potent functions that can help the body’s wellbeing immensely. It aids in boosting the production of serotonin in the brain. Banana flour actually has this and if you are one who often grapples with anxiety, headaches, lack of sleep, depression and mood swings, then this ingredient may help in relieving those maladies.
- It supports weight loss
Other flour varieties like oat, almond and wheat still bear high calories. However, banana flour will keep weight gain in check. Low in calories and high in fiber content, this means eating products made with this flour will make you feel fuller longer.
- It does not contain grain nor gluten
Bananas do not typically cause allergies so it is recommended for individuals who are sensitive to gluten or have celiac disease. It is also a great fruit for people who follow the Paleo diet, diabetics, vegetarians and vegans. The flour is a good substitute for people who keep track of gluten and grain-free diets.
Where Can I Use It?
No need to worry because you can use it like good old plain flour. There are lots of green banana flour recipes that utilize this versatile ingredient. For one, it’s great for baking; add it as a replacement for standard flour while making banana bread, muffins, biscuits or pancakes. You don’t need to gripe about your walnut cookies tasting like bananas though since its taste is quite neutral once baked or cooked.
It can serve as a thickening agent to fluff up your delicious soups and sauces too. Need to use flour for your batter? Make it a point to use green banana flour from now on.
Keep in mind though that unlike traditional flours, you only need less if you’re using this flour. The amount of banana flour used must be 30 percent less than the amount the recipe calls for.