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In the world of alternative and gluten free flours, we think Banana Flour may just take the cake. Mmmmm cake....
What is Banana Flour?
Banana flour is made from green bananas that are peeled, chopped, dried, and then ground. It takes about 8-10 kilo's of raw green banana to produce 1 kilo of banana flour. A surprising percentage of green bananas are disposed of for being unusable in export or sale (almost 40%), but these green bananas are perfect for banana flour production. By making use of the green bananas in flour production, the farmers are able to make more profit from their efforts, the environmental impact of banana farming is lessened, and more food is produced for consumption instead of wasted. Win win? We think so. Banana flour has a texture similar to lighter wheat flours, but you can use about 30% less by volume in recipes, and surprisingly it does not taste like bananas. Originally it was produced as an alternative to the more expensive wheat flours in other parts of the world, such as Africa and Jamaica.
What is Banana Flour used for?
Banana Flour is used as a gluten free alternative flour replacement to wheat flours, or other alternative flours. Because it's gluten free and grain free it's a great flour for those with Celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or those following a gluten free or grain free diet. Not only can banana flour be used for baking, but also for thickening soups and sauces, making breading, or just added to smoothies or other foods simply to reap the nutritional benefits.
Benefits of Banana Flour?
Because you use 30% less banana flour in recipes to achieve the same volume, it's typically more economical than other alternative or gluten free flours. Banana flour also poses health benefits. For one, it's a good source of potassium, an electrolyte that helps the heart and muscles. It's also an excellent source of R2 resistant starch. A lot of research has recently been conducted around the benefits of resistant starch. In fact, in March of 2014, Iowa State University hosted an international symposium where researchers from all around the world came to compare their findings in the benefits of resistant starch. Their findings include significant evidence that resistant starch may reduce the risk of colon cancer, obesity, and diabetes. What is resistant starch you ask? It's basically a type of starch that isn't broken down very easily in the digestive tract, and aids in the digestive process much like fiber does. It helps pass the foods along, reduces the glycemic effect of the foods eaten, keeps you feeling full longer, but can be tolerated at higher levels than fiber due to it's slow fermentation. Resistant starch also has a pre-biotic effect because it feeds the gut bacteria, which in turn produce butyric acid (the preferred fuel of the large intestine).
We think you'll agree that banana flour has huge potential because of its nutritional qualities and high resistant starch content, not only for those looking for an alternative gluten free flour, but for anyone looking to reap the benefits banana flour has to offer in combating some of the most common health issues today.