Some of us might mistake plantains for bananas, but the two aren’t necessarily the same flavor. If you cut open and eat green plantains or unripe ones, you may actually get more of a potato flavor than anything else. Both of these delicious foods have a lot of nutritional and health benefits, so it’s worth getting to know more about them.
The nutritional content of plantains will depend on how it’s prepared and how ripe they are. For instance, if you salt raw plantains and fry them, their nutritional content won’t be high. If you eat them in a raw form or after a healthy cooking process, they’ll be a great source of fiber. You can always look up how to make plantains more palatable and include them in your weekly menu.
Fortunately, plantains have a relatively low glycemic index. They can be used as a healthier alternative to potatoes in some ways. Here are some more health benefits that might convince you to consume plantains at least a few times a year:
1. A Rich Source of Fiber
Many doctors advise their patients to get more fiber in their diet. This will help our digestive system, resulting in regular bowel movements and other related benefits.
Getting enough fiber can also help prevent several serious health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, constipation, and diverticular disease.
In order to get the benefits and protection from fiber, the recommended daily intake is around 28 grams. Just one cup of plantain in baked form can give us more than 3 grams. We can also boost our fiber intake
People can maintain their fiber intake by including a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in their daily diet.
2. High in Resistant Starch
Like many other fruits and vegetables, plantains are also high in resistant starch. Resistant starch refers to the ability of some carbohydrates to resist digestion. Resistant starch has been shown to have positive effects on weight loss. It has also been shown to lower blood glucose levels, improve lipid levels, and help fight obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
3. A Boost in Antioxidants
We all need antioxidants in our bodies to make sure the oxidative stress and toxins don’t cause too much damage. There are several sources of antioxidants that we might not know about, such as exotic Indonesian fruit like plantains.
Plantains are a natural source of useful plant compounds such as flavonoids and polyphenols. These act as antioxidants and serve to fight off harmful free radicals.
A study in 2015 showed a link between the use of plantain flour and the increase of antioxidants and fiber we get. It was found that replacing just ten percent of regular wheat flour with flour made from plantain was enough to enhance the number of benefits even in baked goods like cookies.
4. A Stronger Immune System
Plantains are known to have high levels of Vitamin C, so it’s logical to use them to support our immune system.
If you’re aiming to gain a stronger immune system, though, it’s best to take some precautions. Exposure to light and heat can destroy Vitamin C and take away its benefits. This means that we need to cook the plantains for as little time as possible if we want to retain their immunity advantages.
In addition to vitamin C, plantains are also decent sources of vitamin A. At least one study has shown how vitamin A is a good anti-inflammatory and can help manage our immune system.
5. Good Option for Diabetics
Plantains are tropical fruit related to bananas, but they have a starchy texture that is more like potatoes. This means they are a good source of carbohydrates and fiber, which can help with diabetes control. Plantain has a low glycemic index (GI) score of 35. This means it will not cause sudden spikes in blood sugar levels.
6. Helps Lower Blood Pressure
When a person has a high blood pressure problem, they’re likely to feel scared and confused about the next step. They’re not wrong to feel this way; high blood pressure can lead to an increased chance of strokes, heart attacks, and several other diseases related to the heart.
Fortunately, consuming plantains might be able to help. This is because they contain a lot of potassium, just like bananas do. Potassium is a substance that helps the heart function normally and manages the muscles and nerves of a body well.
A proper level of potassium is also necessary in order to metabolize carbs synthesize protein, and this helps to lower the risk of getting a stroke. All of these are reasons to try out a diet that’s relatively lower in meat and higher in plant-based items. Having a diet that’s rich in potassium will assist in regulating a patient’s blood pressure and also lower the chances of anyone getting a stroke.
The potassium in any fruit or vegetable helps the body to balance out excess sodium. If we don’t take precautions by consuming more healthy fruits and veggies, we stand at risk of getting high blood pressure.
7. Might Prevent Obesity
When we are overweight, our chances of high blood pressure increase. The likelihood of insulin sensitivity also goes up, which is a major symptom of both diabetes and PCOS. According to a study that experimented on rats, it was suggested that plantain extract helps in regulating hormones that are linked to obesity, especially insulin. The results showed that the effect of this extract was ant diabetic.
We do need further studies to confirm that plantain and/or their extract is similarly beneficial to humans. However, the findings here are heartening and could be used as a basis to include plantain in our diet if we want to prevent issues like diabetes, obesity, etc.
8. A Dose of Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is a useful substance that benefits our heart and brain function. In fact, this vitamin performs several functions if it gets absorbed into our body. These functions include good metabolism, the production of healthy blood cells, and healthy neurotransmitters.
We all need a certain level of Vitamin B6, but it’s not always necessary to consume pills or capsules to supplement this requirement. Just one cup of plantains cooked in a healthy way can give us 17 percent of our daily dose of Vitamin B6.
Consuming the right amount of this vitamin has numerous health benefits. It lowers homocysteine, which helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular issues. It might also reduce the severity of PMS or premenstrual syndrome that causes pain to many women each month. When a woman is pregnant, consuming plantains in limited amounts may also reduce morning sickness.
Other studies have also suggested that not getting enough Vitamin B6 could lead to depressive thoughts. The jury might still be out on the definite link between this vitamin and alleviating depression, but it can’t hurt to use plantains to get an optimal level of nutrients in our body.
9. Promotes Heart Health
High levels of potassium help control blood pressure levels in your body by countering the effects of sodium. Potassium has been shown to promote heart health by lowering blood pressure levels and reducing the risk for stroke.
10. Healthy Eyesight
Plantains also contain a significant amount of beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A once consumed. Vitamin A is essential for maintaining healthy eyesight, skin, and mucous membranes.
Nutritional Information of Plantains
According to the USDA, one cup of baked yellow plantain contains the following:
- 239 calories
- 57.5 grams of carbohydrates
- 2.1 grams of protein
- 0.2 gram of fat
- 3.06 gram of fiber
- Vitamin A (62.6 micrograms)
- Vitamin C (22.8 milligrams)
- Vitamin B6 (0.29 mg)
- Potassium (663 mg)
- Magnesium (57 mg)
The vitamins and nutrients present in plantains make them a good choice for those who are looking for a health boost. However, those who are trying to lose weight might want to limit their portion sizes if they’re choosing plantains as part of their diets. The carbohydrates and calories in this fruit are very high, and you don’t want this choice to cause more harm than good.