Plantains are a subgroup of bananas that are starchier like potatoes and less sweet,  unlike the common banana. They are also smaller and denser than regular bananas. Plantains are grown in Africa and Latin America, though they may also be found in Asian countries like the Philippines and Indonesia. Plantain bananas are commonly served as an appetizer or snack and can also be used in place of other types of bananas in desserts or savory dishes. Keep reading to learn more about plantain benefits, nutrition, and uses.

Plantain Banana Nutrition plantains on wooden background

Plantain vs. Traditional Banana

If confused between plantain and regular banana:

  • Plantains grow slightly larger than traditional bananas and are often called “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. 

Plantain in crate on a white background

Nutrition facts

A cup of  baked ripe plantain contains:

  • Protein 2 grams
  • Fiber 3 grams
  • Carbohydrates 58grams
  • Fat 0.22 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)

Plantain Benefits

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

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 vitamins 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 a type of fruit that has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. Studies have found that people who consume plantains on a regular basis have lower cholesterol levels. This is because they are rich in soluble fiber, which helps reduce the absorption of bad cholesterol and triglycerides.

Also, the soluble fiber lowers LDL cholesterol by binding it in the intestines and getting rid of it through stool.

8. Strengthens bones

Plantain bananas are a great way to promote strong bones. Thanks to their high nutrient content, including potassium, vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium. These nutrients promote healthy bone growth and prevent easy fractures.

For instance, magnesium increases the absorption of minerals such as calcium in the body. Calcium enhances the formation and maintenance of strong bones, teeth, and nails. Potassium, on the other hand, protects against wear and tear, which helps maintain bone strength and integrity.

Vitamin C is important for healthy bones because it helps to form collagen, a protein that helps to strengthen bones and maintain their density. Vitamin C also helps to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become weak and easily broken.

Regular consumption of plantains may also lower the risk of osteoporosis, especially in post-menopausal women. Osteoporosis is a bone condition that occurs as you age and is characterized by weak and brittle bones that can easily get fractured.

By incorporating plantain into your daily diet, you can help to maintain healthy bones throughout your life.

9. It increases energy

Plantain bananas contain various nutrients that play a key role in boosting energy levels


Magnesium is a mineral that is necessary for energy production, muscle movement, and cellular function. Inadequate magnesium levels can lead to fatigue, cramps, and poor sleep. 

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 (also known as pyridoxine) is a water-soluble vitamin that is important for energy metabolism. It is involved in the production of energy from food, and it helps to convert food into energy.

Research shows that people who consume a lot of vitamin B6 have higher energy levels. This is because vitamin B6 helps to produce glucose, the body’s main energy source.

People who are deficient in vitamin B6 may experience low energy levels and difficulty concentrating. If you are always tired, it may be a good idea to check your vitamin B6 levels.

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 serotonin levels have been linked to anxiety and depression. Read More


Potassium is a mineral essential for keeping your heart rate and blood pressure in check and helping to regulate nerve impulses. When your body doesn’t have enough potassium, it can start to break down muscle tissue in order to get the necessary nutrients. This can lead to fatigue and decreases in energy levels. Incorporating more potassium-rich foods like plantain into your diet can help increase energy levels while maintaining good health.


Iron is essential for energy production. It helps to create ATP, the energy molecule that helps cells function. A lack of iron can result in low energy levels and fatigue. 

10. Treats anemia

One of the health benefits of plantain bananas is that they can treat anemia. Anemia is a condition in which the blood doesn’t have enough red blood cells. Plantain bananas are a good source of vitamin B6, which is important for the production of red blood cells. They also contain other nutrients, including iron, that can help to treat anemia.

How to incorporate plantain in the diet

In oatmeal

If you’re looking for a tasty breakfast to use up your leftover plantains, including them in your oatmeal can be a great idea. Adding plantain bananas to oatmeal is a delicious and nutritious option that can help you feel full and satisfied.

Plantain bananas are a great way to add some extra sweetness and flavor to your morning oats. Simply preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and slice the plantains into thin pieces. Spread the slices out on a baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, or until they are soft and slightly browned.

When the plantain bananas are done baking, mix them into your oats along with any other desired flavors or toppings. You can also slice ripe plantains on your oatmeal without necessarily baking them.

Make a smoothie

Ripped plantains are a great addition to smoothies because they are sweet and satisfying. They can be used as a replacement for sweeteners like sugar, honey, or syrups, and they also add texture and thickness.

As a pre-workout snack

Plantain bananas are rich in potassium, which is important for maintaining muscle strength and energy. They’re also low in sugar, so they’re a healthy choice if you’re looking to cut back on your calorie intake while boosting your energy levels before a workout.

Add ripe plantain bananas to your dessert recipe

Plantain bananas are essentially miniature versions of the traditional banana, and they have a very mild flavor that works well in desserts. You can use them to replace regular bananas in recipes or add them as an afterthought to create a unique flavor profile. Try adding them to your favorite fruit salad or any dessert recipe that calls for bananas to give it a unique kick.

Make plantain stew

Plantain Stew is a popular African dish made from plantains that are cooked in a stew with spices. It’s a hearty, warming dish that is perfect for cold winter days. Plantain Stew can be made with either green or ripe plantains and can be served as an appetizer, main course, or dessert. The best way to make plantain stew is to use a slow cooker, so the ingredients cook together gently, and the flavor is all-encompassing.

Mash them

Mashed plantain is an excellent substitute for mashed potatoes. It’s also high in fiber, which will keep you full longer than potatoes.

This dish is easy to make and can be enjoyed as a snack or side dish. Simply peel the plantain and cut it into small chunks. Bring the water to a boil in a large pot before adding the plantain and simmer until tender (about 15-20 minutes). Once the plantain is cooked, mash and serve it like you would potatoes.

Final Thoughts

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, and iron.

In addition to providing you with energy, plantains boost the immune system, improve digestive health, regulate glucose in the blood, promote heart health, enhance brain function, lower cholesterol, strengthen 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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