How to Make Healthy Banana Bread

By: Emily McKenna

Cut down on the amount of added sugar and calories while adding more fiber and healthy ingredients with these tips for healthier banana bread that's just as delicious and moist as the one your mom used to make.

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Pictured Recipe: Healthy Banana Bread

Over the years I have perfected my banana bread recipe—one of my favorite solutions for using overripe bananas. I use all whole-grain flour or whole-grain flour mixed with white all-purpose flour, and rely as much as I can on the natural sweetness of the bananas to cut the total amount of granulated sugar called for in the recipe. I also like to roughly mash, or chop, my bananas so that there are big chunks of fruit to bite into. I always throw in a handful of toasted chopped walnuts and sometimes I'll add a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg and a handful of dark chocolate chips.

Want to lighten up your favorite banana bread recipe? Here are 4 of my best tricks you can use to make your banana bread recipe healthier and delicious. Try these tricks with this recipe for EatingWell's healthy Banana-Blueberry Buttermilk Bread.

Try these: Healthy Banana Bread Recipes

1. Use Less Sugar

banana bread

Pictured Recipe: Banana-Blueberry Buttermilk Bread

I try to add as little added sugar as possible to my baked goods, which is easy with banana bread since bananas are naturally sweet. This means packing in more naturally sweet and creamy bananas into the bread to replace some of the white sugar. For example, when a recipe calls for 2 medium bananas and 1 cup of sugar, use 3 bananas and 3/4 cup sugar instead. This tactic has never steered me wrong. The bread bakes up just fine, stays super-moist and has intense banana flavor.

Related: How to Bake a Healthier Cupcake

2. Replace All-Purpose Flour with Whole-Wheat Flour

banana bread

Pictured Recipe: Coconunt-Rum Banana Bread

Generally, you can replace at least half of the all-purpose flour in a recipe with whole-wheat flour. I tend to do a one-to-one swap in my banana bread, using all whole-wheat flour or whole-wheat pastry flour in place of the amount of all-purpose flour called for—I prefer the heartier, nuttier flavor that whole-wheat flour adds, and I want the extra fiber (almost four times as much as all-purpose), potassium, magnesium and zinc. If you want the nutritional benefits of whole-wheat flour, without quite as much whole-wheat flavor, use white whole-wheat flour.

Related: 10 Amazing Health Benefits of Eating More Fiber

3. Add Healthy Fruit, Nuts and Even Veggies

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Pictured Recipe: Zucchini Banana Bread

In addition to upping the amount of bananas in my bread, I also like to mix in different kinds of fruit and nuts, which add texture, flavor and health benefits. When it comes to fruit, I love the taste of tart, plump blueberries. I will add as much as 1 1/2 cups of blueberries to my banana bread, folding them in after combining the wet and dry ingredients. As for nuts, 1/2 cup of toasted, roughly chopped walnuts folded into the batter before baking adds nutty flavor and something to crunch on, along with good omega-3 fats, which can help lower "bad" LDL cholesterol. A similar amount of chopped almonds delivers healthy monounsaturated fats. Want to boost the nutrition even more? Add a serving of vegetables to your banana bread. Drop one of the bananas in your recipe for a cup of shredded zucchini. It boosts the fiber, lowers the sugar content and helps keep the bread moist. Or try a cup of pureed pumpkin in place of two bananas—it also adds a little extra fiber and has a lower sugar content than bananas, plus it delivers a punch of vitamin A.

Related: 9 Vegetables You Can Eat as Dessert

4. Use Less Butter and More Buttermilk

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Pictured Recipe: Gluten-Free Banana Bread

Buttermilk is fantastic in banana bread. By using a combination of 1 cup of nonfat buttermilk plus 2 tablespoons of canola oil, you can get away with almost no butter—just 2 measly tablespoons. In addition to lending a pleasant tangy flavor, buttermilk helps keep your bread moist as it bakes.

WATCH: How to Make Healthy Banana Bread

Related:

Other Healthy Quick Bread Recipes
How to Make Banana Bread French Toast
How to Make Gluten-Free Baked Goods
The Best Sweeteners for Baking
Vegan Banana Bread Recipe