The Remarkable Healing Benefits of Banana Bread
Ever since I travelled to South Africa, banana bread has become one of my favorite breakfast foods. I love it, because I love bananas and cinnamon, but also, because it is easy to prepare and store. Plus, it is such a delicious alternative to store-bought bread. Banana bread is very rich in nutrients, which is due to the remarkable healing benefits of the yellow fruit. This makes bananas one of the top foods I include in the recommendations for my clients facing chronic or traumatic stress. Today, I decided to share my secret recipe and go into some of the healing properties of bananas specifically. The recipe is super versatile, so you can be creative and confident in your kitchen, using the ingredients you prefer or have at hand.
2 flax eggs (1 flax egg = 1 Tbsp flax seed or flax seed meal + 2,5 Tbsp of water) - alternatively use 2 eggs
2,5 cups buckwheat groats - alternatively use any whole grain flour of your choice or a mix of grains and nut flour like almond flour. (If you use a almond flour, your banana bread will turn out softer due to the fat content of the nuts. Buckwheat has rather dry properties in comparison.
4 medium ripe bananas
2 Tbsp nut butter of choice (I used unsalted, unsweetened peanut butter)
2 Tbsp yogurt of choice (I used coconut yogurt)
3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted or at least soft (room temperature usually does it) - alternatively, use butter or avocado oil
1/2 cup coconut blossom sugar - alternatively use raw cane sugar
3 Tbsp maple syrup - alternatively use coconut nectar or 2 Tbsp of raw honey
1/2 Tsp sea salt of Himalayan salt
1 cup unsweetened milk of choice (I used coconut drink, which is a blend of coconut water and milk and that makes it lighter.)
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 Tsp cinnamon (optional)
2 Tsp baobab fruit powder (optional)
1/2 cup or a handful of chopped nuts or seeds of choice (I used pecans)
Preheat your oven to 180-200 degrees Celcius and line your loaf pan with parchment paper or grease it with coconut oil or butter.
If you decide to use buckwheat groats, give them into your food processor and leave on high until the groats have turned into finely ground flour. I like to leave a few bigger pieces of the groats in there, because it makes the bread a bit chunkier. If you use another flour that is already ground, skip this step. You’ll add the flour to your dough later.
Prepare the flax eggs by mixing flax seeds with water and let sit for at least 5 minutes. In the meantime, mash the bananas in a big bowl. Add the flax egg once it has solidified.
Add nut butter, yogurt, coconut oil, avocado oil or butter, coconut blossom sugar, maple syrup, salt and milk to the banana-flax mix. Use a whisk to stir well.
Roughly chop the nuts or seeds of your choice.
Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baobab and nuts or seeds to the dough. Whisk again to combine.
Pour into the loaf pan and smooth the top with a spoon. You can top the loaf with additional nuts or seeds. Bake for 1 hour and insert a toothpick to test, if it is done. When it’s done, it should come out clean or with very little crumbs sticking to it. The banana bread will be rather firm and golden-brown.
Let the banana bread rest in the pan for 10-15 minutes before you carefully remove it with the help of a knife or by pulling up the parchment paper. Let it cool completely, ideally on a cooling rack. If you start cutting it when it’s still warm, it may turn to crumbles.
The banana bread can be stored at room temperature for up to 5 days and in the freezer for about a month.
I like to cut it into slices once it’s cooled down and store it wrapped in parchment paper in the freezer. This way, I can simply warm it up in the toaster slice by slice, whenever I want to eat one. It tastes delicious with some nut butter and freshly cut fruits, like strawberries.
The Healing Benefits of Bananas
Common side effects of chronic or traumatic stress are high levels of inflammation and high blood pressure. Bananas contain high amounts of magnesium - the key mineral our bodies require for relaxation. It also counters inflammation and helps regulate blood pressure. Banana’s high content of potassium comes into play for blood pressure regulation, too and makes bananas a healing food when facing chronic or traumatic stress.
Traumatic and chronic stress often comprise kidney function (according to Traditional Chinese Medicine the kidneys are associated with the emotion of fear and are therefore impacted by stress) and potassium is essential to kidney health and function. Hence, the high potassium content of bananas also contributes to an improved kidney health.
Moreover, bananas contain pectin, a type of fiber that helps regulate blood sugar levels and serves as food for our beneficial gut bacteria. The beneficial gut bacteria produce serotonin and thereby contribute to mental health - which is why your aim is to keep them happy by feeding them.
Despite their sweetness, bananas have a low-medium glycemic index value of 51 on average (The University of Sidney, 2017). The glycemic index (GI) measures how quickly foods elevate blood sugar levels. Consequently, this means that they do not cause major spikes in blood sugar levels.
Apart from that, bananas contain a form of dopamine and vitamin C which both act as antioxidants. The antioxidants are powerful when you’re dealing with inflammation and contribute to healing from stress - both chronic and traumatic stress - as they bind to the potentially cell-damaging free radicals that any kind of stress creates.
Furthermore, thanks to their high vitamin B6 content, bananas strengthen the nervous system and support the production of white blood cells. Both the nervous system and the immune system are impaired under chronic or traumatic stress. This makes vitamin B6 an essential nutrient for healing from chronic or traumatic stress. It is involved in the body’s stress response and impacts neurotransmitters directly connected to depression and anxiety - two states that are often the result of a personal crisis due to chronic stress and traumatic experiences. A combination of magnesium with vitamin B6, naturally existing in the case of bananas, may even enhance the benefits of magnesium in severely stressed individuals (Pouteau, 2018).
Finally, bananas contain high amounts of tryptophan - the precursor of serotonin. Having foods high in tryptophan provides your body with the raw material to make serotonin in sufficient amounts and therefore can have mood boosting effects.
So, next time you’re tired of eating plain bananas, try out my recipe and make healing banana bread instead.
Pouteau, E. et. al. (2018). Superiority of magnesium and vitamin B6 over magnesium alone on severe stress in healthy adults with low magnesemia: A randomized, single-blind clinical trial. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6298677/
The University of Sidney (2017). GI Foods Advanced Search. Retrieved from http://glycemicindex.com/foodSearch.php?num=34&ak=detail