Banana flour is made from very under-ripe bananas that have been dried and ground to powder. Bananas are native to Southeast Asia and India in Particular. Historians believe banana to have been the first cultivated fruit and there is evidence of it being cultivated in New Guinea in 8,000 BCE
Arabs brought bananas west in 327 BCE and they were first grown in Asia Minor and then in Africa. Banana plants would be brought to the New World by the first European explorers in the Caribbean. Bananas would be mass-produced in the New World starting in 1834 and production would increase dramatically towards the end of the 1880s.
Banana flour has been around since the early part of the 20th century and was offered as a more affordable alternative to wheat flour in Africa as well as in the Caribbean and Central America. The USDA considered producing banana as an alternative to grain flours during World War I.
The word banana comes from banan, the word for finger in Arabic. Bananas were mentioned in historical documents written in 500 BC. Historians believe that this was the first written mention of the fruit.
Banana flour flavor profile
Banana flour has a mild banana flavor before you cook it. If you use it raw, you will get a little of that flavor. Once you cook it, it loses the banana flavor and becomes neutral.
Health benefits of banana flour
Banana flour is a great source of several compounds that you need for good health. These include:
- Resistant starch: The fermentable fiber that passes through the gut without being digested is called resistant starch.
- Short-chain fatty acids: The fermentation process for the resistant starch in banana flour produces short-chain fatty acids like butyrate. These acids have numerous health benefits.
- 5-hydroxytryptophan (5HTP): You won’t find 5HTP in many foods, but it is present in banana flour and has numerous mental health benefits.
- Minerals: Banana flour contains ample amounts of zinc, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Adding banana flour to your diet can treat or prevent conditions like:
- Diabetes: Banana flour can lower the glycemic loads of different foods, which means that it can help to prevent insulin resistance.
- Constipation: The inulin in banana flour in combination with the resistant starch enables it to work as a mild but effective laxative. It can enable food to pass easily through the gut.
- Depression and anxiety: The 5HTP that occurs naturally in banana flour can be an effective anti-anxiety supplement and a mild antidepressant. It works by increasing serotonin production in your brain and does so without the negative effects common in prescription antidepressants.
- Celiac disease: Banana flour is gluten-free, so its a safe starch for people who suffer from gluten intolerance.
Banana flour can be used as a wheat flour substitute in most applications. Use it to replace grain flours in baked goods and as a soup or sauce thickener. Banana flour has a couple of advantages over grain flours. The first is that you can use it without cooking it. Add raw banana flour to cereal or smoothies to benefit from its nutritional profile. The second advantage is that it has more starch, which means that you can use less of it to achieve a similar effect as wheat flour. This can save you money while lowering the calories you take in.