Top Plantain Health Benefits & Uses

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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There are many plantain benefits to enjoy, as well as a number of ways to include these fruits in your daily diet.

What are Plantains?

Plantains, sometimes called cooking bananas, are a common variety of banana found in tropical countries. They are very starchy, and not sweet like the small bananas that many people are used to finding in grocery stores. Before a plantain is ripe, when it is still green, the flesh is very hard and not good for eating raw. A ripe, yellow plantain is slightly sweeter, with much softer flesh, but it is still usually cooked or fried.

Plantains are an essential staple food in many countries, especially in Africa and South America.

Plantain chips on a parchment paper garnished with cilantro

Plantain chips are a wonderful snack. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Plantains, yellow, raw
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]65.2
Energy [kcal]122
Energy [kJ]510
Protein [g]1.3
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.35
Ash [g]1.15
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]31.89
Fiber, total dietary [g]1.7
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]17.51
Sucrose [g]0.18
Glucose (dextrose) [g]8.69
Fructose [g]8.64
Starch [g]12
Calcium, Ca [mg]3
Iron, Fe [mg]0.55
Magnesium, Mg [mg]36
Phosphorus, P [mg]32
Potassium, K [mg]487
Sodium, Na [mg]4
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.19
Copper, Cu [mg]0.07
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.14
Selenium, Se [µg]1.5
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]18.4
Thiamin [mg]0.06
Riboflavin [mg]0.08
Niacin [mg]0.67
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.3
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.24
Folate, total [µg]22
Folate, food [µg]22
Folate, DFE [µg]22
Choline, total [mg]13.5
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]56
Carotene, beta [µg]457
Carotene, alpha [µg]438
Vitamin A, IU [IU]1127
Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg]30
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]28.8
Sources include : USDA

Plantain Nutrition 

1 green raw plantain contains roughly 400 calories, with 98 grams of carbs, and 6 grams of sugar. If you consider 1 ounce of salted plantain chips, it has 150 calories and 8 grams of fat.

Plantain Benefits 

Let us look at the most important health benefits of plantains.

Digestion 

With 4 grams of fiber per plantain, these starchy fruits are great for bowel regularity. Regular fiber slows down digestion, keeping you fuller for longer, and helps you manage cholesterol levels.

Vitamins and Minerals

Plantains are much like potatoes in terms of protein and fat value, but they are packed with valuable nutrients. Plantains are good sources of vitamin A and C, as well as vitamin B6, potassium, and magnesium.

Nutrient Density

One medium plantain contains more than 200 calories, which makes it a very important staple food in regions where nutrient-dense foods are critical to survival.

Antioxidants

Plantains are full of vitamin C, one of the most effective antioxidants available. One cup of plantains contains over 30% of your daily recommended vitamin C, which not only supports a healthy immune system but protects your body from free radical damage by preventing oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.

Uses for Plantains

In the Caribbean and Central America, plantains are boiled or deep fried. In Puerto Rico, mofongo is a popular dish in which plantains are fried, then mashed with garlic, salt, and oil. In West Africa, plantains are often used to fill out stews, or boiled to eat with avocado or fried beans. Plantains are also dried and ground up into flour, which in India may be mixed with milk or water to make baby formula.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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