Plantain flour is the product of dry pulverized plantain slices. Plantains are a staple food in the tropical regions of the world, treated in much the same way as potatoes. A plantain is similar to a banana but is usually consumed cooked, rather than raw. It is rich in iron, Ascorbic acid(Vitamin C), carotene and other vitamins. Plantain flour is lower in calories than the regular all-purpose flour. This versatile crop is low in fat, with just 0.3g of fat in a 150g serving in contrast to the all-purpose flour that contains 2.6g of fat in the same- size serving. Its low fat content makes it perfect for people suffering from cholesterol related ailments like diabetes and obesity.
Plantain flour is a healthier substitute for wheat flour and the all-purpose flour because it doesn’t contain gluten which is the main protein found in wheat and barely has negative effects on the body. Many people are unable to digest the gluten in wheat. There is evidence that gluten can make the lining of the intestine more permeable, leading to a leakage of partially digested substances into the bloodstream. This isn’t always the case because some people tolerate wheat just fine.
WHY YOU SHOULD GIVE UP WHEAT
A growing number of people are switching to wheat free diets for good reasons. Wheat is used for a wide range of products which include biscuits, bread, cakes, pastas, bagels, cereals , semolina etc. It can actually be nutritious when grown and prepared in the appropriate manner. Unfortunately, modern farming techniques have reduced the quality of wheat we get these days. When grown in well- nourished fertile soil, whole wheat is rich in many vitamins . Modern farming practices use high-tech methods to control pests and diseases, leading to overdependence on chemicals. Modern wheat is loaded with amylopectin which is worse than table sugar. Even before they are planted in the ground, wheat seeds receive an application of fungicides and pesticides. Rather than focus on soil fertility and careful selection of seeds, chemicals are introduced for greater yield. The following reasons will make you have a rethink before buying wheat flour or wheat products.
- The chemicals used to grow wheat for commercial purposes contribute to the toxic load in the human body, thereby increasing their susceptibility to neurotoxic diseases like cancer. Many of the pesticides used function as xenoestrogens that can mess up our hormone balance and lead to abnormalities like breast cancer, endometriosis etc. After harvesting the wheat, chemicals are again used for the storage process to protect the grains from moths and other insects. A threshold test is also done and if there is one insect per quarter of sample, fumigation will be done. The fumigation entails maintaining a toxic concentration of gas long enough to kill the pests.
- The heat processing of the grain destroys the bulk of vitamin E and other vital nutrients.
- The presence of gluten in wheat is a growing concern. A lot of people do not have the enzymes to break it down and the effects vary from person to person. This leads to Celiac disease for those with strong sensitivity to gluten.
- The glycemic index of wheat is very high. Wheat spikes up blood sugar and insulin and promotes growth of visceral fat around the internal organs and stomach.
- Wheat has been shown to advance aging and causing wrinkles. Culled from ‘rodale wellness’
- It could cause frail bones . Grains are the only plant foods that generate acid by-products. The body starts pulling calcium from the bones to maintain a healthy ph when it is chronically acidic.
- Today’s wheat is a far cry from what it was 50 years ago. Due to cross- breeding(hybridization), certain compounds that are not human friendly have been introduced to wheat. An example is sodium azide which is a toxin.
- Wheat is an addictive appetite stimulant.
The solution is buying whole wheat berries that are grown organically and grinding them to make homemade flour for breads and other uses. Another solution is to buy organic 100% ground whole wheat at natural food stores. Since obtaining organic wheat may be difficult in Nigeria, other options to wheat flour should be explored. These include plantain flour, millet flour, milled brown rice, sweet potato flour, sorghum etc.
WHY PLANTAIN FLOUR IS A BETTER SUBSTITUTE FOR OTHER FLOURS
The nutritional value of plantain flour makes it stand out as an important addition to a healthy diet. Herbal doctors have long approved it for the treatment of various ailments. These are some of the numerous benefits of plantain flour.
- The starch in unripe plantain helps to decrease acidity and reduce irritation in the body.
- Unripe plantain can be used to prevent or heal ulcer.
- It is used in herbal medicine to soothe urinary tract infections, treat sluggish bowels, reduce phlegm, heal wounds, ease dry coughs and fight skin infections.
- It is suitable for diabetics.
- It is used in treatment of erectile dysfunction and low sperm count.
- It is rich in iron and potassium , vitamin A, vitamin B, magnesium and phosphorus.
- For people with gluten intolerance, it is the perfect substitute for flours containing gluten.
- It is high in fiber and aids in digestion.
- Combining unripe plantain with spices like ginger, garlic and onions helps treat high blood pressure and other ailments.
- Plantains are rich in vitamin C .
- Plantains are high in resistant starch which helps make people slimmer and healthier. Resistant starch do not spike up blood glucose or insulin.
- Plantains ease the discomfort associated with menstrual period.
- Plantains are diuretic and can help to prevent kidney and bladder problems.
- The folates in plantain are essential for a healthy pregnancy.
Based on the functional composition of plantain flour and its healing properties it can be incorporated as a food thickener , eaten cooked as a main meal and used as a healthier substitute for other baking flours.