Kitchener-Waterloo

Flour made from green bananas helps regulate sugar intake, Guelph study finds

Researchers at the University of Guelph have created a flour from green bananas. A compound in green bananas helps regulate the body's absorption of glucose, meaning the flour could be used in baked goods for diabetics or people with hyperglycemia.

Banana flour is also gluten-free which could appeal to consumers, professor Mario Martinez says

A University of Guelph study has made flour using green bananas. The pulp of a green banana is high in a compound called phenolics, which can help regulate glucose absorption in the body. (Natalie Dobbin/CBC)

Flour made using green bananas can help regulate glucose absorption, which in turn could help people who have diabetes, hypertension or hyperglycemia, researchers at the University of Guelph have found.

Engineering professor Mario Martinez says the pulp, or inside part that you eat, of a yellow banana can be made into flour, but it's mostly sugars.

But the pulp of a green banana is starch and high in a compound called phenolics, which can help regulate glucose absorption.

For the study, researchers created a flour using green bananas and then replaced 10 per cent of the wheat flour in a cake recipe with the banana flour.

"The green banana, there is no sugars there," he said. "So then we can use that to replace other flours. The most common found flour on the market is wheat flour."

Testing the cake with an in vitro "digestive system," the researchers found much of the glucose from the cake wouldn't be absorbed into the body.

The study appears in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Food and Function.

Coming to store shelves?

Next up, Martinez says they plan to do human clinical trials to see how effective the green banana flour is on the body.

He says using the flour in baked goods like cake and cookies could be a good option in the future to help people who need to regulate their glucose intake.

An added benefit, he noted, is that the flour didn't change anything about the cake they baked — it was still very rich and tasty. That's important because if it's not tasty, nobody will eat it, he says.

Martinez would like to see the flour on store shelves in the near future and he hopes to find someone to help bring it to market.

"I would say that it won't take 10 years, I think it's far closer to see it happen," Martinez said, noting the banana flour is also gluten-free.

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