Plantains are a form of banana that has a starchy flavor, rather than sweet, as with other bananas. Typically eaten boiled and mashed or fried, plantains are particularly popular in Caribbean cooking and are served as a staple, similar to rice or potatoes. Plantains are nutritious and contain significant amounts of vitamins, including vitamins A, C, B6 and folate, as well as smaller amounts of other vitamins.
A single cup of cooked, mashed plantain contains about 550 mcg of vitamin A, providing a little over 60 percent of the daily recommended intake for an average person. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that vitamin A is essential for the proper formation and maintenance of healthy skin, teeth, bones, mucous membranes and other soft tissues within the body. Vitamin A also promotes good eyesight and helps to prevent night blindness, according to the McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois.
Vitamin C is available from plantain. Also referred to as ascorbic acid, this nutrient is a powerful antioxidant that helps the body defend itself against free radicals, toxic chemicals that damage cells in the body. According to Colorado State University, vitamin C is also important for strong teeth, gums and connective tissues within the body and supports the healing process. A one-cup serving of plantain provides 21.8 mg of vitamin C, delivering around 30 percent of the daily requirement.
Also called pyridoxine, vitamin B6 helps the body to produce red blood cells and supports the central nervous system and metabolic processes, particularly those involving proteins, says the University of Maryland Medical Center. At 0.5 mg per serving, plantain contains approximately 30 percent of the vitamin B6 the average person requires each day.
Plantains hold 52 mg of folate, or 25 percent of the requirement per day, per cup serving. In the body, folate and vitamin B12 work together to produce red blood cells. Folate is also essential for DNA development. Pregnant women that supplement their diets with folate can help to reduce the risk of congenital birth defects, according to the McKinley Health Center.
Plantains contain several other vitamins in smaller amounts. These include around 10 percent of niacin, 8 percent of both thiamine and riboflavin, 6 percent of pantothenic acid, 3 percent of vitamin K and 1 percent of vitamin E in a single one-cup serving of cooked, mashed plantain.