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Are Pancakes Healthy?

author image Nicki Wolf
Nicki Wolf has been writing health and human interest articles since 1986. Her work has been published at various cooking and nutrition websites. Wolf has an extensive background in medical/nutrition writing and online content development in the nonprofit arena. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from Temple University.
Are Pancakes Healthy?
A stack of pancakes covered in maple syrup and fresh raspberries. Photo Credit: Olena Mykhaylova/iStock/Getty Images

Getting a good head start on your day means eating a healthy breakfast, but with so many choices, finding smart choices can be confusing. Pancakes are a hearty option, providing a high quantity of carbohydrates and a range of vitamins and minerals, but pancakes are relatively high in fat, calories and sodium. With careful meal planning, you can include an occasional serving of pancakes in your diet, unless you have a wheat gluten allergy.

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Basic Nutrition

A 3.5 oz. serving of pancakes has 221 calories, although the common practice of adding butter and maple syrup adds calories and fat. While extra calories will not typically put pancakes off the menu -- an ideal breakfast contains 350 to 500 calories, depending on your nutritional needs -- but the additional fat grams may. A serving of pancakes contains 8.8 g of fat, and piling on more fat may not work within your meal plan. Roughly half of the fat in pancakes derives from saturated fat: 3.9 g. Avoid more than 15 g of saturated fat per day. Pancakes contain 27.2 g of carbohydrates, or 8.3 to 12 percent of the amount you need in a single day. You also get 8.1 g of protein, an amount that contributes 14.4 to 17.6 percent of the suggested intake of this macronutrient.

Sugar and Sodium

Pancakes impart both a savory and a sweet taste; the sweetness derives from the addition of granulated sugar in the recipe. A serving of pancakes contains 4.3 g of sugar; if you top your pancakes with maple sugar, this adds quite a bit more. The American Heart Association suggests keeping intake of sugar to under 25.2 g for women and 37.8 g for men. Sweeten pancakes with fresh fruit rather than syrup to keep your sugar intake low. Due to the salt in pancake batter, you also consume 308 mg of sodium per serving. The recommended daily limit stands at 1,500 to 2,300 mg, so carefully plan consumption of sodium throughout your day to avoid going over the suggested limit.

Vitamins and Minerals

A serving of pancakes is a good source of phosphorus and calcium, with 20 percent and 18 percent of the daily recommended intake, respectively. This makes pancakes a smart option for boosting bone strength and your body’s ability to make RNA and DNA. Pancakes serve up 12 percent of the iodine and riboflavin you need each day as well, and you’ll take in smaller quantities of vitamin C, thiamin, vitamin B-6, niacin, vitamin B-12, magnesium, zinc, copper and iron.


Whole-wheat pancakes provide extra fiber and a serving of whole grains. Anyone with an intolerance to wheat gluten should avoid pancakes made with wheat flour, but you can make changes to put pancakes back in your meal plan. Research published in the September 2009 issue of “Archivos Latinoamericanos de Nutricion” notes that pancakes can be made with quinoa, rice and corn flours, which offer good texture and protein, and it should not trigger symptoms of celiac disease, a medical condition marked by an intolerance to wheat gluten.

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