Plantains, also known as plátanos, are closely related to the dessert banana. In general, they are treated as vegetables in the kitchen much like fellow tropical produces such as potatoes, taro, breadfruit, yam, sweet potatoes. Plátano is one of the staple sources of carbohydrates for larger populations in Asia, Africa, and Central Americas for centuries, served in main courses.
Health benefits of plantains
Plantains have more calories weight for weight than that in the table bananas. 100 g plantain holds about 122 calories, while dessert banana has only 89 calories. Indeed, they are very reliable sources of starch and energy; ensuring food security for millions of inhabitants worldwide.
It contains 2.3 g of dietary fiber per 100 g (6% of DRA per 100 g). Adequate amount of dietary-fiber in the food helps normal bowel movements, thereby reducing constipation problems.
Fresh plátanos have more vitamin C than bananas. 100 g provide 18.4 mg or 31% of daily required levels of this vitamin. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin-C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen-free radicals. However, boiling and cooking destroys much of this vitamin in plantains.
Plantains carry more vitamin A than bananas. 100 g fresh ripe plantains contain 1127 IU or 37.5% of daily required levels of this vitamin. Besides being a powerful antioxidant, vitamin A plays a vital role in the visual cycle, maintaining healthy mucus membranes, and enhancing skin complexion.
As in bananas, they too are rich sources of B-complex vitamins, particularly high in vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine). Pyridoxine is an important B-complex vitamin that has a beneficial role in the treatment of neuritis, anemia, and to decrease homocystine (one of the causative factors for coronary artery disease (CHD) and stroke episodes) levels in the body. In addition, the fruit contains moderate levels of folates, niacin, riboflavin and thiamin.
They also provide adequate levels of minerals such as iron, magnesium, and phosphorous. Magnesium is essential for bone strengthening and has a cardiac-protective role as well.
Fresh plantains have more potassium than bananas. 100 g fruit provides 499 mg of potassium (358 mg per 100 g for bananas). Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure, countering negative effects of sodium.
Plantains can be eaten raw once ripened, and are delicious once cooked. They can replace potatoes, mashed, baked or fried because of the amount of starch.
Concerns About Consuming Plantains
Some people have banana and plantain allergies. The allergic reaction usually surfaces immediately or up to one hour after consumption. The symptoms are the same as other food allergies and include things like itching and swelling of the lips, tongue and throat; hives; and trouble breathing, among others.
Because plantains have a high carbohydrate content and glycemic load, they can raise blood sugar. (17) Those with diabetes should be aware of pairing plantains with other foods that can raise blood sugar levels.