What is in naan and how can it benefit your health? One serving of naan bread contains at least 247 calories. Either whole or white wheat, it provides enough energy to give you a head start. Learn more about naan bread nutrition as you read the article.
Naan Bread in History
The naan bread is a type of flatbread that is believed to have originated in India. We can usually find them, primarily, in the Indian subcontinent and in most areas of West, Central, and South Asia. It’s also usually served in every Indian restaurant worldwide. The word naan literary means bread in ancient Persian language and if you use this word in modern day Iran, it may mean bread in general. The bread was first mentioned in a literary work by an Indian poet named Amir Khusrow in the 1300 AD. Though, many experts say that the Indians were making naan bread as far back as the 1300s. They believed that it probably began when yeast from Egypt was first introduced in India. Its first citation in English literature was made in 1803 through William Tooke’s travelogue, an English historian.
The naan bread resembles a well-known Middle-eastern bread—pita. Like pita, it’s also leavened with yeast but sometimes, they also used the unleavened dough. It’s traditionally baked in a tandoor—a cylindrical oven made of clay or metal. It’s commonly used in the Indian subcontinent, West, Central, and South Asia.
How is Naan Made?
Its recipe includes whole or white wheat flour mixed with salt, water or milk, and yeast. Milk is usually preferred over water because it doesn’t only add a distinct taste but provides softer dough. The dough is then massaged and pressed for a few minutes. After it was kneaded, it is set aside for a few hours until it rises. When the dough has risen, it’s divided and molded into balls and flattened and then baked. The balls should be at least 100g or 4 ounces each. In modern ingredients, yogurt is sometimes used as an alternative for milk and baking powder instead of yeast.
In traditional Indian cuisine, naan is usually served hot and brushed with ghee or butter. Though the plain naan bread is tasty as it is, sometimes, locals add fillings like spices or meat to add extra flavor.
Naan Bread Varieties
Most experts agree that naan bread is likely to have originated in India, but its influence spread throughout its neighboring countries like Myanmar, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Xingjian regions in China. Because of its influence, some regions have come up with their own version of the naan bread.
For instance, in Pakistan, naan bread is usually added with fragrance essence like vetiver or rose. In Myanmar, their version is called naan bya which they commonly served at breakfast with coffee or tea. Like the typical naan bread, its round and soft but blistered. It’s often served with boiled peas or butter on top or dipped in mutton soup.
Other variations include:
- Paneer naan – the bread is paired with Indian cheese.
- Keema naan – Lamb or goat meat is stuffed in the bread.
- Kulcha naan – it’s paired with a mixture of potatoes and onions.
- Peshawar naan – it’s paired with nuts and raisins.
In Western worlds, naan bread is usually used in recipes for burgers and pizza crust. Nigella seeds are also commonly mixed in to add extra flavor.
Naan Bread Nutrition
There’s a good reason why naan bread is typically served in the morning in the Indian subcontinent—a single serving of plain bread contains at least 247 calories. This amount of calories is due to its rich flour contents. However, it’s still considered healthy by healthcare experts, especially if it’s made up of whole wheat flour. Adding more ingredients to it, like garlic or coconut, may reduce its nutritional value.
As mentioned, a serving of regular naan bread could provide at least 247 calories that include 42g of carbohydrates, 5g of fats, 8g of protein, and 2g of fibers. It may also contain at least 1 mg of cholesterol. Whole-wheat naan bread contains about 243 calories that include 39g of carbohydrates, 6g of fat, 9g of protein, and 4g of fiber. Finally, naan bread with added ingredients like spices, garlic, and onions can provide at least 237 calories per serving, which includes 45g of carbohydrates, 3g of fat, 9g of protein, and 3g of fiber.
Micronutrient information (vitamins and minerals)
According to studies, regular naan bread contains vitamin a and is rich in b vitamins like vitamin b3 (niacin), vitamin b9 (folate), vitamin b6, thiamin, and riboflavin, which provides 10 percent of the daily recommended allowance. Naan bread made of whole-wheat contains large amounts of niacin, thiamin, vitamin b6, magnesium, and phosphorus, also contributing 10 percent of the recommended daily allowance.
Effects of Naan Bread to Health
Though naan bread is not considered one of the healthiest bread around, it still has essential vitamins and enough macronutrients to boost up your day. However, if you’re planning to add naan bread into your daily breakfast routine, it’s advisable to go for whole-wheat. Naan bread is tasty but it’s commonly made of white flour, which if consume excessively may lead to health conditions like irritable bowel syndrome or constipation. And because it’s rich in starch, it may also affect the overall health condition of the digestive system.
One serving of naan bread contains enough energy giving calories to give you a head start, either whole or white wheat. But whole-wheat naan bread may provide more benefits than white wheat. It contains higher fiber content that supports maintaining a healthy stomach. A serving also makes you feel full that allows you to eat less. Also, an important reminder, that since its high in calories, it should not be eaten at night. Calories are used by your body for energy consumption and we don’t burn energy at our sleep. Excess calories are stored in your abdomen causing belly fat.
Though whole and white wheat contain the same types of micronutrients, whole-wheat naan bread contains larger amounts of vitamins and minerals. Its niacin content helps in lowering bad cholesterol levels, thus, reduces risks of any heart-related disease.
Whole-wheat bread, in general, is well-known to reduce risks and symptoms of Type-2 diabetes. A study was published in the Journal of Nutrition for its September 2018 issue, researchers observed that participants with type-2 diabetes reduced their symptoms when whole-wheat, rye, and oats intake are increased.