Is Banana Bread Healthy?

Some of us choose the recipes we make based on our cravings. Others may be drawn to the accompanying photo that promises comfort in edible form. Yes, it's fun to bake, but it's also good to know what's really in our delectable treats. That is why we're here to discuss a baked good that some people might file under "healthy breakfast option," and others might say is "only for cheat days." It's time to find out once and for all. Is banana bread healthy?

Simply Recipes states that a classic banana bread recipe calls for: one or two overripe bananas, flour, butter, eggs, baking soda, and salt. Besides the overripe bananas, it shares a similar ingredient profile to many other baked goods. According to Byrdie, the first-ever recipe for banana bread was published in 1933 by baking giant Pillsbury. Perhaps we can thank the "use every last scrap of food" mindset people had back then for the invention of this delicious snack. What else would explain the thinking behind turning mushy, brown bananas into bread?

You won't find healthy versions of banana bread everywhere

Now that we have a little history and the ingredient list, we can determine if banana bread is healthy. Maggie Michalczyk, a Chicago-based registered dietitian who specializes in millennial nutrition, tells Byrdie, "I would say banana bread is moderately healthy depending on what ingredients you use to make it." Bananas are loaded with nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B6, but the bread itself can contain a lot of sugar. Michalczyk explains there are ways to make a healthier version of the classic recipe: "Sweetening it with honey is a great sugar swap as honey is 100% pure and unprocessed." She also notes, "Adding ground flax seeds in the batter, nuts, or pumpkin seeds on top is great for healthy fats and extra protein."

It sounds like banana bread can be packed with healthy nutrients, but you won't find these versions everywhere. According to Fast Food Nutrition, a slice of Starbucks banana bread is 420 calories. That is a lot of calories for a slice of anything, but what may be even more surprising is that a whopping 45 percent of those calories come from fat, and 49 percent are from carbohydrates. So even though the coffee shop versions of this classic favorite taste amazing, you will have a lot more control over the healthiness of your banana bread slice if you make it at home. 

Just like many other recipes, the answer to how healthy banana bread actually is will be heavily based on the ingredients used to make that delicious loaf.