Heart Healthy Banana Bread with Flax & Walnuts

Do you ever wish your grandma’s banana bread was not only good for your soul but good for you too? This super easy healthy banana bread recipe does just that. I made a few slight modifications to a traditional banana bread recipe to make it more filling and nutritious. Don’t worry, I didn’t skimp on the flavor. 

Why I Love This Easy Healthy Banana Bread Recipe

Don’t you love recipes that taste good and have good-for-you ingredients? (I know I do.) With a few healthy substitutions and hacks, I’ll show you how to take a traditional banana bread from sweet to super nutritious.

Heart-Healthy Ingredients

  • Flax: contains fiber, ALA omega-3, and phytochemicals that help with lowering blood pressure, improving cholesterol levels, and supporting overall healthy hearts (1)
  • Whole grains: contain soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol levels
  • Banana: contains more of that lovely soluble fiber and potassium that helps with blood pressure management
  • Walnuts: contain omega-3’s that decrease inflammation and improve heart health
banana bread ingredients in bowls

Healthier Baking Substitutions

I’ll admit, I had my fair share of baking mishaps while testing this recipe. My advice? Don’t experiment with too many baking substitutions at once. People say that baking is more of an exact science than cooking, and they are not kidding. Mess with one ingredient and you could have a weird, chewy mess on your hands.

The first time I made this recipe, I tried to change too many things at once. The product was a weird, wet, spongy mess on the inside and burnt to a crisp on the outside. You live and you learn!

After about 5 different recipe variations, I finally arrived on this lovely one. It has all of the taste and texture of traditional, dessert-y banana bread, but with way less saturated fat and sugar, and way more nutritious ingredients.

Here’s how I make healthier banana bread:

  • substitute butter for canola oil
  • swap half of the sugar with applesauce
  • substitute white flour for whole wheat flour
  • add flax for extra heart health benefits
two bananas

Cooking Hack: Ripe Bananas

Most recipes for banana bread call for very ripe, brown bananas. Why? As bananas ripen, the starches inside break down into sugars, making ripe bananas sweeter and easier to digest (and mash).

What if you don’t have an overripe banana on hand?

I learned a little trick from The Kitchn that can help – Bake those nanners!

Here’s what I did:

  1. Placed bananas on a rimmed baking sheet
  2. Put the baking sheet in the oven as it preheated
  3. Flipped the bananas once one side started to brown (about 10 mins)
  4. Bake another 10 minutes or until fully browned

The product was a much riper banana that was easy to mash and just a bit less sweet than a banana that was ripened the old fashioned way. Success!

ripe bananas on baking sheet
mashing bananas with fork

Recipe Modifications

  • Make it vegan: Substitute egg for a flax “egg” (mix 1 tablespoon ground flax w/3 tablespoons water and let sit for 15 minutes)
  • Make it with no added sugar: Substitute 1/2 cup sugar for 1/2 cup applesauce or another mashed banana
  • Make it higher in protein & lower in fat: Substitute canola oil for 4 tablespoons of nonfat Greek Yogurt
  • Make it into muffins: pour into a muffin tin and bake at 400F for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean
sliced banana bread
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Easy Healthy Banana Bread

This healthier twist on banana bread features heart-healthy ingredients for an extra nutrition punch at breakfast or snacktime.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time55 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: baking recipes, banana bread, banana muffins, healthy baking, quick bread
Servings: 8
Calories: 288kcal
Author: Chelsea Jackle, RDN

Ingredients

  • 3 medium bananas ripe
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 cup walnuts roughly chopped

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Grease loaf pan with cooking spray or butter
  • Mash bananas in a large bowl. Add applesauce, sugar, canola oil, and eggs. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  • Combine flour, flax, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and allspice in a medium bowl.
  • Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and fold until just combined. Fold in chopped walnuts. Pour into loaf pan.
  • Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  • Cool completely and serve!

Nutrition

Calories: 288kcal | Carbohydrates: 32.8g | Protein: 5.4g | Fat: 16.4g | Saturated Fat: 2.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7.3g | Cholesterol: 46.5mg | Sodium: 368.2mg | Potassium: 95.3mg | Fiber: 4.2g | Sugar: 18.3g

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    Springtime Flaxseed Recipe from Nutrition Experts - Manitoba Flax Seed Milling Company
    June 21, 2019 at 9:45 pm

    […] Heart Healthy Banana Bread with Flax & Walnuts – Chelsea Jackle, RD […]

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