A low-carb diet can help you lose weight, but it does limit your intake of a variety of healthy veggies, including the starchy plantain. But if these veggies are one of your favorites, you may be able to fit them in during the maintenance phase of your low-carb diet. If you're planning on following a very-low-carb diet that restricts many of your favorite foods, consult a professional for help.
Plantains on Your Low-Carb Diet
A low-carb diet doesn't have set guidelines, but some of the popular plans strictly limit your daily intake of carbs at the start, with some allowing no more than 20 net carb grams -- total carb grams minus fiber grams -- a day. The carb-restricted phase of the diet is meant to jump-start your weight loss and is only followed for two weeks or until you've lost a set amount of weight. With 24 grams of total carbs, and 22 grams of net carbs, in a 1/2-cup cooked serving, plantains may be a difficult food to include during this phase of the diet. Most low-carb plans don't allow starchy veggies like plantains when carb intake is this low.
As you progress with the diet, however, your carb allowance increases in 5-gram increments and settles at 30 to 80 grams of carbs a day depending on your weight-loss needs. As your carb intake increases, you may have more leeway to fit starchy plantains into your low-carb diet.
Despite being higher in carbs than other veggies, such as broccoli and spinach, plantains make a healthy addition to your diet. They contain fiber and are a good source of vitamins A and C, some of the B-vitamins and potassium. A 1/2-cup serving has 2 grams of fiber and meets more than 10 percent of the daily value for potassium and vitamins A, B-6 and C.
As an antioxidant, vitamin C protects your cells from damage by free radicals, which may lower your risk of illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. Both vitamin A and B-6 in plantains are important for immune health. Potassium-rich plantains may offer heart-health benefits by helping to improve blood pressure by decreasing the effects of sodium.
Preparing Plantains for Your Low-Carb Diet
Plantains are a member of the banana family, but they have more starch and less sugar than yellow bananas -- 10 grams of sugar in the 1/2 cup of sliced plantains vs. 18 grams in the same serving of bananas. Due to the starch content, plantains aren't eaten raw. While frying plantains won't affect your carb intake, there are healthier ways to prepare the starchy vegetable, such as boiling, baking or grilling.
Brushed with olive oil and grilled until soft, plantains make a delicious side dish for your grilled steak, chicken or fish. Grill some low-carb veggies, such as peppers, onions and eggplant, with your plantains to balance out the high-carb veg. Ripe plantains may satisfy your sweet tooth; try these plantains baked in the oven and sprinkled with cinnamon as an ending to your meal. Or slice savory green plantains into "fries," toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake in the oven. Mix them with low-carb turnip fries, cooked the same way, to keep your carb intake low.
Working Plantains Into Your Meal Plan
Plantains can work in most moderately low-carb diets -- like this 50-carb meal plan. At breakfast you might have eggs with turkey bacon hash made with 1/4 cup of plantains instead of potatoes for 12 grams of carbs. For lunch, have grilled sliced chicken on 2 cups of fresh spinach, 1/2 cup of sliced green peppers, seven chopped walnuts, 1/2 cup of sliced strawberries, red wine vinegar and olive oil. This lunch has 9 grams of carbs. Finish the day with broiled salmon, 1 cup of broccoli rabe sauteed with garlic and olive oil and 1/2 cup of plantain fries, for a total of 26 grams of carbs.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Food Nutrient Database: Plantains, Cooked
- Atkins Diet: Starting a Low Carb Diet
- South Beach Diet: What Can I Eat?
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin C
- Chiquita Bananas: Plantains
- Harvard School of Public Health: Low-Carbohydrate Diets
- HealthAliciousNess.com: Nutrition Facts Comparison Tool: Walnuts, Strawberries, Bananas
- Atkins: What Are Net Carbs
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin A
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin B6