Naan Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Nan bread

Getty Images / Westend61

The history of naan dates back 2,500 years when India welcomed the arrival of yeast from Egypt. Today, it is widely served across Asian cultures, namely Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India. It has been suggested that naan was conceived from the baking of flatbread on fiery pebbles back in historic Persia.

Naan, the Persian word for bread, is a chewy flatbread made from a mix of white or whole-wheat flour, yeast, eggs, water, and salt. Typically, naan is baked in a traditional Tandoor clay oven, or on a Tawa, which is a metal flat disc pan.

Given its roots, naan is most commonly served across Asian cultures, but can also be found as a food accompaniment, especially to curry, in countries across the world. Each region has its own unique way of serving this flatbread.

For example, in South Asia, butter or ghee is normally brushed on top. In Myanmar, naan is often a breakfast staple consumed alongside coffee and tea. And, in Indonesia, Roti naan is made from unleavened flour, such as whole wheat, and rolled out very thin to cook on the Tawa.

Naan Nutrition Facts

Because many types of naan exist and are manufactured by multiple brands, the nutritional facts vary. Therefore, the following information is based on a 100-gram serving of naan from Karrara and, as a comparison, a 100-gram serving from Artisan Naan Bakery. Nutritional details of both are provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Karrara Naan Bread

  • Calories: 288
  • Fats: 3.75g
  • Sodium: 500mg
  • Carbohydrates: 46g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 8.75g


Artisan Naan Bakery

  • Calories: 239
  • Fats: 0.88g
  • Sodium: 425g
  • Carbohydrates: 55g
  • Sugars: 2.65g
  • Fiber: 1.8g
  • Protein: 8.65g


Carbohydrates

In both brands, the majority of calories are from carbohydrates, with the average of the two around 50.5 grams of carbs. For those following a daily intake of 50% carbs on 2,000 calories a day, (250 grams of carbs), a 100-gram naan would amount to about a fifth of your daily carb intake.

However, in stricter meal plans, such as a ketogenic plan, which allocates around 5 to 10% of your daily food intake to carbs, the same serving of naan would not be a suitable choice.

Fats

Both of these examples of naan contain fat, although it is a small amount based on the recommended daily intake from the World Health Organization (WHO) of no more than 30% of your total daily intake.

However, it is important to differentiate between different types of fats, some of which contribute to our health, and others not as much. Typically, the fats in naan are attributed to added oil (canola, for example) or butter.

But healthy fats that promote the function of the brain, nervous system, and lower cholesterol, such as Omega-3, are mainly from fatty fish, walnuts, chia seeds, and other foods that are usually not present in naan.

Protein

Both naans contain similar amounts of protein with almost 9 grams per portion. But this type of protein is not complete, meaning it lacks all of the nine essential amino acids the body is unable to produce on it own.

Iron

Both versions of naan contain a small amount of iron at 1.8 and 3.9 grams respectively. The National Institute of Health's (NIH) daily recommended iron intake of iron is 8 milligrams for men and 18 milligrams for women between the ages of 19 and 50.

Calories

Both naans mentioned contain an average of 260 calories (239 and 288 respectively).

Health Benefits

In truth, most store-bought naan bread has little nutritional value. However, some brands as well as homemade options contain ingredients such as whole grains that can contribute to your health goals. Here is what you need to know about these benefits.

May Impact Bowel Health (Whole Grain Versions)

Naan made from whole grain, sourdough, rye, or other grain alternatives is richer in dietary fiber than those made with enriched flour or refined grains. Fiber helps to maintain bowel health and regulates bowel movements.

In fact, one study found that whole grains improve bowel movements, soften feces, increase fecal weight, and improve constipation by reducing colonic transit time. If you struggle with constipation, you may want to choose whole-grain naan.

May Keep You Full Longer (Whole Grain Versions)

If you choose a whole-grain naan, you may feel more satiated. Eating whole grains also can help with weight maintenance. Not only do these grains leave you feeling fuller for a longer period of time, but the presence of bran or fiber also promotes sound digestive function.

What's more, research has shown that eating whole grains also may help prevent diabetes and could offer protective benefits for your heart. Because refined grains do not offer these same benefits, you may want to opt for whole-grain choices when selecting naan.

May Help with Weight Management (Whole Grain Versions)

A study of 50 participants found that whole grains may play a role in reducing body weight. During the study, the participants consumed a measured amount of whole grains and later a measured amount of refined grains.

What the researchers discovered was that whole grains played a role in reducing body weight primarily due to satiation at a lower energy intake. They also noted systematic low-grade inflammation.

May Provide Benefits of Fiber (Whole Grain Versions)

Some pre-made naan breads contain fiber. By selecting a whole grain version of naan, you may be able to reap the benefits of high fiber foods, especially if part of an overall nutritious eating plan.

In fact, researchers found that people who eat 25 to 29 grams of fiber per day saw a 15 to 30% decrease in their risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and colon cancer. Additionally, the study found that people who ate higher amounts of fiber also had lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and lower body weight.

However, the researchers noted that, on average, Americans are only eating about 12.5 grams of fiber a day. This amount falls well below the recommended 25 to 29 grams daily. Be sure to check the label, though, and watch out for additives, oils, and sugar.

Allergies

Because most naan varieties contain ingredients with wheat and gluten, those with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or wheat allergy should avoid this food. Instead, opt for a gluten-free brand or make your own from a suitable gluten-free flour.

Also, be mindful of eating naan if you have a milk or egg allergy. Many store-bought versions of naan contain these ingredients. You also should be wary of naan if you react to foods containing yeast. Always check the label before purchasing naan if you have allergies, intolerances, or follow a specialized diet.

Adverse Effects

Most store-bought versions of naan contain added ingredients such as preservatives, sugar, and oils, which, in large amounts, can negatively impact your health. Similarly, some of the ingredients in naan are not suitable if you follow a low FODMAP diet, which is a potential treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Varieties

Naan is available in many varieties. Some of the most popular variations are:

  • Garlic naan: Similar to garlic bread, the naan is brushed with garlic butter or has minced garlic pressed into the dough.
  • Butter naan: These varieties often have butter added into the dough and are also doused with butter on top to make it soft.
  • Whole-grain naan: This naan is made with whole-grain flour such as spelt.
  • Kulcha naan: An Indian flatbread made from Maida, this naan contains a finely milled white flour hailing from the Indian subcontinent.
  • Pudina naan: This naan is flavoured with mint leaves (known as pudina), which is popular in Indian cuisine. Some recipes even call for buttermilk or curd.

Storage and Food Safety

Similar to bread, naan has a relatively short shelf life and should be used by the date indicated on the packaging. Generally, it can be stored in the pantry for around 3 to 4 days, in the fridge for more than 1 week, and frozen for up to 3 months.

How to Prepare

Naan bread can be purchased from most supermarkets, but sometimes these pre-packaged options are not always the freshest options. Instead, you can make your own naan, which is fairly easy to prepare by following a recipe.

Typically, making naan involves mixing water and yeast and adding in other ingredients such as eggs, salt, flour, and yogurt to make a soft dough. Naan is a common accompaniment to Indian food, such as Thai Coconut Curry Chicken, but can also work as a meal on its own. Here are some popular preparations for naan.

  • Paneer naan: A flatbread rolled and stuffed with paneer cheese—popular in Indian cooking. It is often stuffed with coriander, onions, and Indian spices.
  • Stuffed naan: Just as it sounds, this stuffed naan contains a filling of ingredients to suit your preference. One popular stuffing is cauliflower and potato, known as gobi.
  • Peshwari naan: This sweet naan is commonly stuffed with desiccated coconut, sultanas, and flaked almonds.
  • Pizza naan: Pizza dough is substituted with naan bread in this variation and topped with tomato sauce, cheese, and your choice of vegetables before baking.

Recipes

Healthy Naan Recipes to Try




Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Pasqualone A. Traditional flatbreads spread from the Fertile Crescent: Production process and history of baking systemsJournal of Ethnic Foods. 2018;5(1):10-19. doi:10.1016/j.jef.2018.02.002

  2. USDA FoodData Central. Naan. Updated April 2019.

  3. World Heath Organization. Healthy fats. Updated April 29, 2020.

  4. Academy of Nutrition and Diuretics: Eatright.org. Choose healthy fats. Updated May 2021.

  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet. Iron. Updated March 30, 2021.

  6. Jung S-J, Oh M-R, Park S-H, Chae S-W. Effects of rice-based and wheat-based diets on bowel movements in young Korean women with functional constipationEur J Clin Nutr. 2020;74(11):1565-1575. doi:10.1038/s41430-020-0636-1

  7. Cleveland Clinic. The whole truth about whole grains.

  8. Roager HM, Vogt JK, Kristensen M, et al. Whole grain-rich diet reduces body weight and systemic low-grade inflammation without inducing major changes of the gut microbiome: a randomised cross-over trialGut. 2019;68(1):83-93. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2017-314786

  9. Cleveland Clinic. Research: High fiber diet helps ward off health troubles. Updated April 25, 2019.

  10. USDA FoodData Central. Naan. Published July 2017.