Plantains Are Packed With Fiber and Potassium, But There Are Drawbacks

Plantains look similar to bananas, but they're drastically different in flavor. Bananas are smaller and much sweeter, while plantains have a starchy consistency and taste. But because of their similar look, plantains are often referred to as cooking bananas.

When it comes to digestive health, nothing keeps things moving like fiber, and you'll find plenty in plantains. (Image: Edgar D Pons/iStock/GettyImages)

Commonly used in Caribbean and South American cuisines, plantains are a versatile carbohydrate source and are full of fiber, potassium and other vital nutrients.

The Nutrients in Plantains

100 grams of cooked mashed plantains has

  • 116 calories
  • 0.2 grams of fat
  • 0.8 grams of protein

When it comes to digestive health, nothing keeps things moving like fiber, and you'll find plenty in plantains. One cup of plantains contains 4.6 grams, or 18 percent of your recommended daily value.

On the downside, this nutrient-rich fruit contains 62.3 grams of carbohydrate per one cup serving. That's something to consider if you are monitoring your carb intake. Thankfully, plantains also have tons of fiber, which slows the release of sugar from carbs so it moves more slowly into your system. The Joslin Diabetes Center recommends that people with diabetes choose fiber-rich carbohydrate sources, because they make you feel fuller longer.

If you want to incorporate plantains into your diet, make sure the savory fruit stands in for your carb portion if you are following the United States Department of Agriculture's My Plate Food Plan. If you're following a low-carb diet, plantains can still be incorporated responsibly into your diet.

Potassium and Antioxidants

There 930 milligrams of potassium in a 1-cup cooked serving of plantains, accounting for 27 percent of your recommended daily value. Potassium is an electrolyte, and is especially beneficial for those with blood pressure issues. It fights the good fight against sodium, which is present in unhealthy quantities in many Americans' diets. Not sure which method of cooking is best? Boiled plantains might be the way to go because you're not adding any unhealthy ingredients.

Great for Digestive Health

The Harvard School of Public Health reports, plantains and other types of bananas have historically been heralded for their easy-to-digest properties. Once commonly part of the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast,) a diet that was once widely prescribed to those with suffering from diarrhea, or other stomach issues. In particular, the resistant starch found in plantains may also support gut healing.

Topical Benefits of Plantains

Plantains have been used for centuries not just as food, but also as a topical healing aid to treat dog bites, and as a remedy to treat ailments such as high fevers and the flu. They're still used in traditional medicine today. Dr. Edward Group, MD, told Global Health Center that research conducted by the German Commission E approved the use of plantain leaves for use in cough medicines.

Disadvantages of Plantains

When cooked properly, plantains can be a great addition to any diet, but plantains do have disadvantages. Watch out for unnecessary sodium and fat that may come with different preparation methods.

Plantain chips are often sold and packaged as an on-the-go snack. According to Nutritionvalue.org, a typical 100 gram serving of plantain chips can have as much as 30 grams of fat, or 46 percent of your recommended daily allotment, and 64 grams of carbs, which is about 21 percent of the total amount of carbs you should eat in a day.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Load Comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.