Do you know the difference between plantain and a banana? Plantains are a subgroup of bananas that are starchier like potatoes and less sweet,  unlike the common banana.  Let us dive deeper and explore more about plantain banana nutrition and its uses. 

Plantains grow a little bit larger than traditional bananas and are often referred to as “cooking bananas.” They can be boiled, fried, roasted, or eaten as is when ripe.

Another distinctive feature is that plantains have thicker skin, can vary in color from green, yellow, and black, and they are often used as a vegetable. In contrast, traditional bananas have thin skin, vary in color from green to yellow, and are eaten as fruit. 

For great recipes that use plantain, try Baked Plantains, Air Fryer Plantain, Mangu Recipe. 

This article explains more about plantain banana nutrition and how it can benefit your body.

Plantain in crate on a white background

Nutrition facts

A cup of boiled and mashed plantain contains:

  • Protein 1.6 grams
  • Fiber 4.6 grams
  • Carbohydrates 62.3 grams
  • Fat 0.4 grams
  • Calories 232
  • Potassium – 930 milligrams (27 percent of the daily requirement)
  • Magnesium – 64 milligrams (16 percent of daily requirement)
  • Vitamin A – 1,818 IU (36 percent of daily requirement)Vitamin B6 – 5 milligrams (24 percent of daily requirement)
  • Vitamin C – 21.8 milligrams (36 percent of daily requirement)
  • Iron – 1.2 milligrams (6 percent of daily requirement)

Health benefits of plantain bananas

With their many nutrients and fiber, plantains are definitely a superfood as they do wonders for the health of your body

Here are some benefits to expect:

1.   They improve digestive health

Plantains are high in resistant starch, which acts like soluble fiber. This fiber goes through the stomach and the small intestine undigested, eventually reaching the colon, where it feeds the friendly gut bacteria, lowers the risk of colorectal cancer, and many other inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease, constipation, ulcerative colitis, and diverticulitis. Read More.

2.   It increases insulin sensitivity

The resistant starch in green bananas increases your metabolic rate and improves insulin sensitivity, which is your cell’s responsiveness to insulin. It’s also effective at lowering blood sugar levels after meals and preventing sugar spikes after your next meal. This can help manage type 2 diabetes, obesity, as well as heart disease.

In addition, resistant starch will significantly decrease the amount of sugar as it acts similar to soluble fiber. This will contribute to weight loss, primarily by increasing the feelings of fullness and reducing appetite.

So the green banana may not be as sweet as your yellow banana, but it outweighs the benefits of any banana. Read More. 

3.   Boosts the immune system

Plantain is a great source of vitamin A and C. These are two powerful antioxidants that neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress, which can compromise the immune system. Read More.

Other functions of vitamin A include:

  • Fighting inflammation
  • Preventing night blindness
  • Lowering the risk of certain cancers, including bladder, cervical, and lung cancer
  • Reduces the risk of acne
  • Support bone health
  • Promotes growth and reproduction
  • Is anti-aging
  • Prevents urinary stones

Other functions of vitamin C include:

  • Aid iron absorption
  • Prevents and treats common cold
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Relieves stress and depression
  • Promotes youthful skin
  • Enhances collagen production
  • Has anti-aging effects
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Lowers the risk of heart disease

4.   It promotes healthy brain function

Plantain contains vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, which engines several neurotransmitters that carry information from one cell to another. B6 also increases the production of dopamine and serotonin, which help regulate your sleep cycle and improve your mood respectively.

Vitamin B6 also prevents disease conditions, decreases arthritis symptoms, strengthens the immune system.

5.   Promotes heart health

Plantain is loaded with many heart-healthy nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and fiber.

Potassium regulates blood pressure, which helps regulate your heart rate, while B6 reduces homocysteine levels in the body, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.

The soluble fiber in plantain also helps reduce cholesterol levels, lowering the risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

6.   It’s rich in magnesium

Magnesium is an essential mineral needed for different biochemical processes in the body. Unfortunately, most people don’t consume enough magnesium-rich foods.

Luckily, a single serving of boiled plantains may provide up to 16 percent of your daily requirement.

Magnesium is important for different functions, including

  • Relieving constipation
  • Boosting energy
  • Improving calcium and potassium absorption
  • Improving sleep
  • Reducing stress
  • Regulating blood pressure
  • Boosts exercise performance
  • Fights depression
  • Lowers the risk of diabetes
  • Has anti-inflammatory properties
  • May prevent migraines
  • Reduces insulin resistance

7.   Lowers cholesterol

Plantains are high in soluble fiber, which reduces the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream.

It also lowers LDL cholesterol by binding it in the intestines and getting rid of it through stool.

8.   Strengthens bones

Plantains are high in magnesium which increases the absorption of minerals such as calcium in the body. Calcium enhances the formation and maintenance of strong bones, teeth, and nails.

Plantains are also rich in potassium, which helps protect against wear and tear.

9.   It increases energy

The potassium, complex carbohydrate, and vitamin B6 in plantains are essential for energy improvement and mood regulation.

In addition, vitamin B6 present in plantain is essential for producing serotonin and dopamine, brain chemicals that regulate mood and behavior.

According to research, low levels of serotonin have been linked to anxiety and depression. Read More

Conclusion

Although plantain belongs to the banana family, not all bananas are plantain. They both share some similarities and different distinct characteristics that make them fall into the two groups.

At a nutritional level, plantains are an excellent source of potassium, magnesium, fiber, vitamins A, C, and B6, iron.

In addition to providing you with energy, plantains boost the immune system, improves digestive health, regulates glucose in the blood, promote heart health, enhances brain function, lowers cholesterol, strengthens bones, and are high in essential nutrients like magnesium and potassium.

Plantains cannot be eaten raw. They have to be either cooked or eaten when ripe. Either way, you are still going to experience the great benefits they contain.

Looking For More Plantain Recipes? Try These Out:

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