Banana milkshakes are a delicious and refreshing treat that many people enjoy. But with the high calories and sugar content found in most milkshake recipes, some may wonder if banana milkshakes can actually be part of a healthy diet. In this article, we’ll examine the nutritional value of banana milkshakes and whether they can be a nutritious choice or should be considered more of an occasional indulgence. We’ll look at factors like calories, fat, protein, carbs, vitamins, and minerals. We’ll also provide some tips for making banana milkshakes healthier if you want to enjoy them more frequently while still caring for your nutritional needs.
Are bananas themselves healthy?
Before looking at banana milkshakes specifically, it’s helpful to understand the health benefits of bananas on their own. Bananas are nutritious fruits that offer a range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Some of the key nutrients found in bananas include:
- Potassium – Bananas are well known for being a rich source of potassium, an essential mineral that helps regulate fluid balance, muscle contractions, and nerve signals. One medium banana contains about 422mg of potassium.
- Vitamin B6 – Bananas contain vitamin B6 which supports red blood cell production and brain function. There’s about 0.5mg vitamin B6 in one medium banana.
- Vitamin C – With over 9mg of vitamin C per banana, this fruit provides immune-boosting antioxidants.
- Manganese – Important for bone health and metabolism, bananas contain about 0.3mg manganese.
- Fiber – Bananas provide 3g of fiber per medium fruit, which helps regulation digestion.
In addition to these nutrients, bananas are low in fat, cholesterol-free, and low in sodium. They provide energy from natural sugars and carbs.
So in their raw form, bananas are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. This makes them a healthy, energizing snack. But how does turning bananas into a milkshake impact their nutritional value?
Nutritional content of banana milkshakes
When making a milkshake out of bananas, you’re adding other ingredients like milk, ice cream, sugar, and flavorings. This changes the calorie and nutrient content. Let’s look at the nutrition facts of a typical banana milkshake recipe:
A 12oz banana milkshake made with 2% milk, vanilla ice cream, and sugar contains around:
– 335 calories
That’s a significant amount in one drink, equivalent to 17% of a 2,000 calorie daily diet. The high calorie count comes mainly from the sugar in the bananas plus added sugar and high-fat ice cream.
The same 12oz milkshake provides about:
– 11g total fat
– 7g saturated fat
The source of most of this fat is the ice cream. Opting for low-fat versions of milk and ice cream can reduce the fat content.
Carbs and sugar
You’ll get around:
– 57g carbs
– 51g sugar
That’s a hefty dose of sugar – more than the 24-36g recommended for the whole day. The natural sugars in the banana, plus any added sugar or ingredients like ice cream and chocolate or caramel sauce pump up the sugar content.
Our sample milkshake provides:
– 8g protein
A good part of this comes from the milk. Using milk alternatives like almond milk limits the protein.
Vitamins and minerals
Banana milkshakes made with fruit and dairy provide:
– 30% DV calcium
– 15% DV vitamin D
– 15% DV vitamin A
– 10% DV vitamin C
You’ll also get smaller amounts of potassium, phosphorous, vitamin B12, and riboflavin. However, the vitamins and minerals are reduced compared to eating a plain banana.
Are banana milkshakes ultimately healthy or unhealthy?
Looking at the nutritional content above, a banana milkshake made in the traditional way with ice cream, milk, and added sugar is high in calories, carbs, and saturated fat.
The positive nutrients it provides like protein, calcium, vitamins A, B12, C, D, come alongside high sugar and fat and in smaller amounts than you’d get from eating a banana on its own.
So banana milkshakes cannot be considered a truly healthy choice. The high calorie, carb, and sugar counts mean they should be enjoyed in moderation as an occasional treat. Consuming them regularly or in large portions can lead to weight gain and negatively impact health.
However, there are some ways to modify banana milkshake recipes to make them a bit healthier, which we’ll look at next. With adjustments, it may be possible to enjoy banana milkshakes more frequently while keeping nutrition in check.
How to make healthier banana milkshakes
If you want to enjoy banana milkshakes but reduce the calories, fat, carbs, and sugar, here are some tips:
Use low-fat milk and ice cream
Opting for low-fat or non-fat dairy helps limit saturated fat and calories. You can also use reduced-fat ice cream.
Reduce added sugars
Skip adding table sugar or sweet sauces and rely on the natural sweetness of ripe bananas.
Increase fiber with oats
Add a spoonful of oats to boost the fiber, which provides more nutritional balance.
Use nut milk instead of dairy
Substitute almond milk or another unsweetened nut milk to make it dairy-free.
Boost protein with greek yogurt
Substitute greek yogurt for some of the ice cream for more protein.
Stick to a 1 cup serving size instead of 16oz or larger portions.
Top with fruit instead of candy
Choose healthy toppings like strawberries or blueberries rather than chocolate syrup or candies.
Mix in extra banana
Adding more banana gives you more of the nutritional benefits.
Banana milkshake recipes for better nutrition
To put the above tips into practice, here are a couple of relatively healthy banana milkshake recipes:
Low-carb banana milkshake
- 1 medium banana, frozen
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch of cinnamon
- 3-5 ice cubes
- Combine all ingredients in a blender.
- Blend until smooth and creamy.
- Pour into a glass and top with extra cinnamon if desired.
With the almond milk and greek yogurt, this provides more protein and less sugar than typical recipes. Leaving out added sweeteners also helps keep calories in check.
Protein-packed banana milkshake
- 1 medium banana, sliced and frozen
- 1 cup low-fat milk
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- 1 cup ice
- Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender.
- Blend until fully mixed and frothy.
- Pour into a glass and top with sliced bananas if desired.
The peanut butter and protein powder bump up the protein content, and using low-fat milk keeps saturated fat lower.
The bottom line
While banana milkshakes can seem like a nutritious choice thanks to their banana base, traditional recipes with added sugars and high-fat ice cream mean they land in the unhealthy treat category. Enjoy them occasionally in small portions if you have an otherwise balanced diet. Or modify recipes to include healthier fats, reduced sugar, and higher protein and fiber to enable more frequent enjoyment. Keep portion sizes reasonable and accompany your shake with other wholesome foods to optimize your overall nutritional intake.