If your favorite fruit is a banana, you’re not the only one. Bananas are the most consumed fruit in America, according to Statista—a staple of 59% of survey respondents’ diets. It’s no surprise why, really. This tropical fruit offers a myriad of health benefits that range from promoting muscle recovery, supporting gut health, and fueling your body with tons of natural energy.
With all the good of this popular food, it’s hard to comprehend that there can be any bad. But as is the case with any food, how much you eat and how you prepare it can make or break its healthfulness. That’s why dietitians warn that the unhealthiest way you can prepare bananas is to bake them into banana bread. (Related: One Major Side Effect of Eating Bananas Every Day, Say Experts.)
“During quarantine, banana bread became quite popular. Delicious, sweet, comforting, and healthy right? Wrong. Adding fresh fruit to a recipe is great, but when combined with flour, sugar, butter, and eggs, that healthy banana bread definitely doesn’t outweigh the unhealthy ingredients. And at the end of the day this is ultimately still cake,” says Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, founder and director of Real Nutrition NYC, and member of our medical review board.
It’s not just the average banana bread recipe that Shapiro cautions you skip, it’s also the “healthy” ones.
“Even ‘healthy’ banana bread with almond flour, coconut oil, and coconut sugar still adds up and is not as good for you as eating just the banana,” adds Shapiro.
Let’s put it in perspective, shall we?
If you take a look at the first result when you search for “banana bread recipe,” it calls for 1 cup of sugar or 200 grams of sweet stuff. Add in the recipe-required 3 overripe bananas, and you’re up to 250 grams of sugar per loaf. (By the way, overripe bananas have more sugar than your standard ripe banana. That’s because the longer-chain, complex starches in bananas convert to simple sugars over time, hence why recipes call for overripe bananas—for that added sweetness.)
If you’re generous and say you can get 12 slices per loaf, you’re looking at 21 grams of sugar per serving of banana bread. For context, that’s the equivalent of 7 Oreo Cookie Thins!
We’re not here to be Debbie Downers, though. You don’t have to remove banana bread from the menu—just don’t think of it as if you’re eating a serving of health-promoting fruit.
“This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat [banana bread] as treats, but count it as a treat, not health food,” says Shapiro. For more reasons why you should make sure you eat your fruit in non-bread form, check out What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Fruit.
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