If you've been on the hunt for a Paleo-approved or gluten-free flour, today's your lucky day. Green banana flour has been growing in popularity, and for good reason. In addition to being wheat-free, the baking alternative is a resistant starch, which is a type of carbohydrate that resists both digestion and breaking down into sugars. Most starches, like potatoes, are broken down into glucose (a type of sugar) in our small intestine. Good resistant starches (including beans and lentils) on the other hand remain undigested, helping lower blood sugar levels and aiding gut health. Not to mention banana flour is a good source of potassium and dietary fiber!
Banana flour's texture can be compared to that of lighter wheat flours, except it has a mild banana flavor when consumed raw. Any hints of banana become hardly detectable once cooked. A common staple in Jamaican, Haitian, West African, and Central American cooking, banana flour is ground from peeled and dried unripe bananas. It's just as versatile as any other flour when it comes to baking and cooking, if not more, as you can add it to your smoothies straight from the container.
One interesting thing about banana flour, however, is that the resistant starch disappears when heated above 140 degrees Fahrenheit. It's best to consume raw if you're looking for a good resistant starch. But if your only concern is working around your gluten intolerance, then it doesn't matter whether you bake it.
- It could aid weight loss: Because banana flour is a resistant starch in its raw state, your body needs to work harder to convert the starch into energy. The more our body works during digestion, the more calories you're burning in the process, which equals a boost in your metabolism. Additionally, banana flour can provide a feeling of fullness, helping curb your appetite.
- It improves insulin sensitivity: As mentioned, banana flour can help lower blood sugar levels since resistant starches pass through the digestive tract unchanged (aka doesn't break down into sugar).
- It promotes a healthy gut: According to Healthline, resistant starch ends up in the large intestine where it feeds good bacteria. The bacteria then digest and convert it into short-chain fatty acids, including butyrate, the most important of them all. The result is a healthy colon, thanks to the increased amounts of butyrate.
- It's packed with nutrition: A nutritional breakdown by Dr. Axe shows that just one cup of banana flour contains about 88 grams of carbs, 3.9 grams of protein, 1.8 grams of fat, 9.9 grams of fiber, 43 percent of your daily potassium, and the list goes on.
You can find banana flour on Amazon or at health food stores, but look out for organic varieties that contain zero added ingredients. As with anything, consume in moderation, but this sounds like a baking substitute worth trying out!