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Is Naan Bread Healthy? Nutrition and Calories
Nutrition

Is Naan Bread Healthy? Nutrition and Calories

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on October 19, 2022
365 Views
5 min

Learning about the nutritional value of one of the most widely consumed breads in Asia.

is naan bread healthy

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Naan bread is a typical Indian food that went from being a favorite of royalty around the year 1300 to the table of the common people, even though its artistic preparation is a skill that not everyone can master.

It is traditionally made in a cylindrical oven known as a tandoor made of clay or metal, which gives a very attractive touch to its elaboration.

This gastronomic treasure has the particularity of being as soft as a cloud, thanks to the addition of yogurt to its preparation, which differentiates it from other varieties of flatbread, such as pita bread.

This variety of bread, apart from being delicious and convenient to accompany various dips and curries, has nutritional qualities worth studying.

The Health Reporter team brings you a detailed description of naan bread and its benefits. Stay tuned to find out more!

Is Naan Bread Healthy?

Yes, naan is a healthy alternative compared to other breads of this type because the addition of yogurt or milk in the recipe makes it rich in protein.

In addition, if prepared with whole-grain wheat flour, it provides a good amount of fiber, which makes it very convenient to improve digestion, promote satiety, and control blood sugar.

How Is Naan Bread Made?

Naan bread is baked in the oven after the dough has been manually kneaded to achieve its characteristic flattened shape.

Ingredients include wheat flour, which may be refined or whole grain, plus milk or yogurt, yeast, salt, sugar, water, and sesame seeds.

It is traditionally served with a little ghee spread on top, which is a clarified butter rich in healthy fats with a richer flavor. Fresh herbs and spices are also commonly added to enhance the flavor of the dough, making it one of the most desirable Indian dishes across the Asian continent.

Is Naan Bread Good for Weight Loss?

No, naan bread is not a low-calorie food as it contains carbohydrates and is also typically accompanied by fat spread on top, such as ghee or regular butter.

However, you could include the varieties prepared without butter and with more fiber from whole-grain wheat flour in your weight loss diet. The fiber in whole-grain flour slows down digestion and prevents the insulin spikes associated with foods high in refined flours that cause high blood sugar.

When you follow an eating plan to burn fat, one of the key points is to know how to control portions. This way, you could include only half of the naan bread if you want to eat it at some point in order to consume fewer calories and not affect your progress.

What Ingredients Does Naan Bread Contain?

The basic ingredients for a typical naan recipe are:

  • 500g wheat flour or whole-grain flour
  • 10g yeast
  • 5g sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • A teaspoon of sesame seeds
  • 25ml oil or melted butter
  • 120ml plain non-fat or Greek yogurt

Naan bread can be prepared in different ways; some recipes even omit the fat and use only yogurt and water as wet ingredients for kneading. This variation makes it less caloric as it contains less fat and is, therefore, lighter and healthier.

You can use clay utensils such as plates or molds for baking it in your oven in a similar way to the traditional tandoor oven, or you can simply bake it on your baking sheet.

The important thing is to check when it puffs up to take it out before it burns. Once on your plate, you can increase its nutritional value and enhance its flavor by adding a little olive oil spread, seeds, herbs, or spices.

Nutrition Facts

This type of bread contains a good amount of B vitamins, as well as iron and complex carbohydrates as long as it is made with whole-wheat flour.

It contains a considerable amount of protein from the wheat cereal and the yogurt used in its preparation. In the following table, you will see a breakdown of each of the nutrients in 100g of commercially prepared white naan bread:

 Nutrition table (per 100g)

Calories/NutrientAmount
Calories (kcal)291
Net Carbs (g)50.4 
Fiber (g)2.2 
Sugar (g)3.55 
Fats (Total)5.65 
Protein (g)9.62 
Source: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171845/nutrients

High in vitamins and minerals

Naan bread contains a good proportion of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium.

Because of this, it becomes a nutrient-rich addition to a healthy and balanced diet, which can be favorable for overall health if consumed in moderation.

Low in protein

With 9.62g per serving, this type of bread has a good amount of protein. However, it cannot be considered a high-protein food.

For a food to be considered high in protein, 20% of its total calories must come from protein, and, in this case, 36kcal comes from this macronutrient. This corresponds to 12.3% of total calories in wheat bread.

As naan bread is a carbohydrate, it can be accompanied by almost anything; by combining it with options such as chicken, cheese, or fish, you can get a more complete and high-protein meal.

Low in fats and calories

Plain naan contains just 5.65g of fat per serving, naan bread is considered a low-fat food and can have less of this macronutrient when oils or butter are omitted from the recipe, and it is prepared with only water and low-fat yogurt.

These changes may modify its characteristic fluffy texture, but if you are following a weight-loss diet, you will know that sometimes it is beneficial to make a few adjustments to traditional foods in order to include them in your healthy routine.

High in carbohydrates

Almost 70% of the total calories in naan bread are from carbohydrates, making it the main nutrient in the recipe.

The carbohydrates come from wheat flour, and the health benefits will depend on the type of flour used.

The ideal is to use whole-wheat flour instead of refined regular flour to take advantage of the fiber and make the bread more satiating, which favors those who are following a fat-burning diet.

A Word From a Nutritionist

When following a traditional diet, it is recommended to consume whole-grain bread instead of white bread as the latter contains refined flour.

Whole grains contain more nutrients and provide more health benefits; therefore, it is better to make naan bread with whole-wheat flour. However, if you follow other types of diet, such as the ketogenic diet, this option is totally discarded because it is high in carbohydrates.

Many Greek and Indian dishes use wheat bread as a side dish, with the main ingredients being abundant vegetables and spices, which give it the right balance of nutrients and fiber.

Conclusion

Naan is traditionally known as a flattened white bread with yeast that allows an infinite number of variations to add flavors such as butter, spices, and seeds.

The addition of different ingredients makes it very rich in nutrients but also dense in calories and high in carbohydrates.

For people who want to follow a healthy diet, it is advisable to prepare whole-grain bread or other less caloric options such as rye bread that contains more fiber. You can opt for potato bread from time to time as well.

However, you can consume in moderation whole-grain naan bread by taking care of the portions and always adding generous amounts of vegetables to your plate.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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