Naan Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Naan nutrition facts

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

The history of naan dates back 2,500 years when India welcomed the arrival of yeast from Egypt. Today, naan is a staple across cultures in the South Asian countries of India and Pakistan, but also Iran and Afghanistan in Central Asia, as well as the South East Asian countries of Myanmar, Indonesia and Malaysia. 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 tandoor, a traditional cylindrical clay oven which is fired to a high heat by being placed on top of a wood or charcoal pit, or on a Tawa—a flat metal 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, distinct from naan, is "roti," also a flatbread, but made from unleavened flour, such as whole wheat, and rolled out very thin to cook on the tawa.

Naan Nutrition Facts

The following information is provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for one piece (90g) of plain naan.

  • Calories: 262
  • Fats: 5.1g
  • Sodium: 418g
  • Carbohydrates: 45.4g
  • Sugars: 3.2g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 8.7g

Carbohydrates

The majority of calories in naan are from carbohydrates, with one piece (90g) providing 45.4 grams of carbs. There are some sugars (3.2g) and fiber (2g) in naan, but most of the carbs are starch. The estimated glycemic index of naan is 71.

Fats

One piece of naan contains about 5.1 grams of fat. About 1.3 grams is saturated fat, 1.6 grams is monounsaturated, and 1.9 grams is polyunsaturated. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends of fat intake of no more than 30% of your total daily intake.

Protein

Naan provides about 8.7 grams of protein per portion. Protein plays an important role in the body, as it is required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body's tissues and organs.

Vitamins and Minerals

Naan is an excellent source of several minerals including niacin (5.3mg or 33% of the daily value or DV set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) and thiamin (0.7% or 58% DV). It is also a good source of iron, providing 2.9mg or 16% DV. 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.

It should also be noted that naan provides a substantial amount of sodium. Each piece contributes 418mg or 18% of the recommended limit set by the U.S. FDA.

Calories

Naan contains about 260 calories per piece.

Health Benefits

Naan contains carbohydrates which provide the body with energy. It also contains protein, some healthy fat, and iron. Store bought brands and homemade versions made with whole grains may contain additional benefits, such as fiber, and probiotics. Not to mention, it tastes great and can compliment a meal made with a variety of flavors, herbs, and spices.

May Impact Bowel Health

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 bowel regularity, consuming foods that contain fiber can help you. Adding whole-grain naan to a fiber rich diet can help you meet your daily fiber needs.

May Keep You Full Longer

Eating whole grains 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

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

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.

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.

Varieties

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

  • Garlic naan: 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 you also 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 North Indian food, such as Chicken Vindaloo or Lamb Rhogan Josh. 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 aloo 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.




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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.
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