Depending on where you buy your banana bread, it can be a health boost or a health bomb. Many packaged and bakery bread tend to be high in calories, sugar, and fats. However, healthier bread options increase as bakers and companies become more aware of the desire for a more nutritious, lighter banana loaf .
Making your own at the pantry is the ideal way to control ingredients for a delicious, healthy bread you can enjoy daily.
Once a simple way to make use of overripe bananas as long as you had a few other easy baking ingredients lying around, banana bread has risen to the forefront of our baking conversations in the recent past — right up there with sourdough bread .
As the loaves accumulate and we chow down on this perfectly sweet, dense bread day after day for breakfast, second breakfast, dessert, and snack time, the question arises: Is this bread prepared mainly from fruit, not good, for you? We researched. Read more for all you need to know about this super-popular baked food.
What Is Banana Bread?
A regular banana bread recipe is prepared of very ripe bananas (you know the kind we’re talking about — not exactly rotten, but not entirely edible either), butter, flour, eggs, sugar, salt, and baking soda.
Pillsbury published the first-ever banana bread recipe in 1933, which was right during the Great Depression period. Thanks to scanty food availability, the Great Depression was when people worked hard to use every scrap of food they did have, which included making use of overripe, otherwise not edible bananas.
Sure, bananas have some sugar, but it is natural and comes in a wholefood package of minerals, vitamins, and gut-friendly fiber. You’ll want to use as many bananas as you can for sweetness, so you can keep the added sugar to a bare minimum (for your information, that’s the ‘unhealthy’ kind).
In case you’re wondering, ‘added sugar’ includes plain sugar like brown or caster sugar, but also maple syrup, honey, and rice malt syrup.
Why Is It So Popular Right Now?
While we’re not facing a scarcity of food issues amid the COVID-19 crisis, many of us can relate to wanting to put as much space between grocery trips as possible to minimize exposure to the virus.
Banana bread is like a celebration of how fruit can endure; just like you can use a picked-clean rotisserie chicken to make stock, you can give over-ripe bananas another life and use them for this wonderful bread. There’s simply no reason to dump any banana—the more brown and speckled, the naturally better and sweeter.
1. Whole Grains
Prepare or purchase whole-grain banana bread versus bread prepared with refined white flours. Refined flours have little nutritional value, having been stripped of their germ and bran layers, which leads to losses of essential minerals, vitamins, and fiber.
In contrast, since whole-grain flours retain all grain layers, they are a source of minerals and vitamins, including magnesium and vitamins B-6 for energy production. Whole-grain banana bread is also an excellent fiber source, which increases satiety and aids in good digestion.
Bananas are the all-star of banana bread, giving a naturally sweet aroma and taste to the treat. The yellow fruits are a carbohydrates source, an essential nutrient used as fuel for physical and mental processes.
Bananas can lower blood pressure, decrease the risk of cancers, and improve digestive health. This is because of its vitamins, including vitamins C and A, dietary fiber, and minerals, including potassium.
[Read: Health Benefits of Bananas]
Although banana bread tends to be rich in carbs, it can be a protein source with the proper ingredients. Protein is a critical nutrient required for the repair, growth, and recovery of muscle. It also helps stabilize blood sugar levels, satisfying a hungry appetite to prevent you from eating the entire loaf of bread.
According to the USDA NND (National Nutrient Database), a 60-gram slice of banana bread can have around three grams of protein.
4. Healthy Fats
Banana bread provides healthy monounsaturated fats with ingredients such as olive oil and nuts. Healthy fats help lower cholesterol levels and stabilize blood sugar levels. Cutter prepares a banana bread using 2 cups of almond meal, 1/4 cup of ground flaxseeds, and a 1/4 cup of olive oil for a nutritionally rich, decadent loaf.
Top a slice with a poached egg for breakfast or a tablespoon of peanut butter for an afternoon snack.
Is Banana Bread Bad For You?
We all are aware of what makes banana bread so great, and it’s clear why it’s making such a buzz right now. But health-wise, how does banana bread stand?
Banana bread is reasonably healthy, depending on what ingredients you use to prepare it. For instance, you might sub butter for coconut oil, use organic flour or coconut or almond flour, or change the sweetener you use.
Even in its minimal healthy form—you know, full-on flour, butter, and sugar—there are way worse baked goods out there than banana bread because bananas offer some nutritional content and natural sweetness.
But at what point are you overindulging in it? A slice a day is an excellent happy medium of enjoying it as a treat. Most loaves will freeze perfectly, so if you’re baking up umpteen loaves, you always have that option not to go overboard.
So yes, you can have your banana bread and eat it too, whether or not you’re getting creative with the ingredients you use. Enjoy!