Plantains resemble bananas and are part of the same family. These fruits are starchy and rather bland, with a low sugar content. And like bananas, they get sweeter as they ripen. Boiled, sweet plantains are nutritional powerhouses, filled with vitamins A and C, minerals such as potassium and a healthy helping of fiber.
Boiled, sweet plantains contain numerous essential vitamins, but two stand out from the others. A 1-cup serving of mashed, boiled plantains contains 21.8 milligrams of vitamin C, which is 29 percent of the recommended daily intake of 75 milligrams for women and 24 percent of the RDI of 90 milligrams for men. Vitamin C plays a major role in several body processes, including the formation and maintenance of bones, tissues, skin, blood vessels and teeth. Vitamin C is an antioxidant vitamin, which may help slow the aging process and prevent cancer and heart disease, reports MedlinePlus. Another antioxidant vitamin found in significant amounts in boiled, sweet plantains is vitamin A, with a 1-cup serving containing 1,818 international units, more than 50 percent of the recommended intake of 2,333 international units for women and the 3,000 international units recommended for men. Vitamin A helps boost your immune system, supports eye health, aids in physical growth and development and helps prevent various cancers and skin diseases.
Potassium and Magnesium Content
Potassium is an essential mineral that plays several vital roles in your body, from building muscle to controlling your heart's electrical activity. Adults should take in 4,700 milligrams of potassium per day, and a 1-cup serving of mashed plantain delivers 930 milligrams, or nearly 20 percent of the recommended intake. The same serving of mashed plantain also contains 64 milligrams of magnesium, or close to 20 percent of the recommended daily intake of 310 to 320 milligrams for women and over 15 percent of the recommended 400 to 420 milligrams per day for men. Magnesium aids in muscle and nerve function, helps build strong bones and maintains your heartbeat, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements.
Most Americans don't eat enough fiber, taking in only 15 grams per day when the recommended intake is closer to 30, reports the Harvard School of Public Health. Eating a 1-cup serving of mashed, boiled plantain will give you 4.6 grams of fiber, or roughly 15 percent of your recommended daily intake. Adequate fiber intake can help maintain your blood sugar and cholesterol, as well as prevent diseases such as heart disease, diverticular disease and even certain types of cancer.
Adding Plantain to Your Diet
As the plantain ripens, it develops a sweet flavor. The same way you may use over-ripe bananas for baking, over-ripe plantains can be boiled and mashed for a sweet treat. Plantains are often cooked and eaten as a breakfast food in tropical regions, and you can add spices such as cinnamon, cloves, vanilla and even honey if you like. Boil the plantains by peeling them first, covering them with water and cooking them for 20 minutes.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: What Is the Difference Between a Plantain and a Banana?
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Plantains, Cooked
- MedlinePlus.com: Vitamin C
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin A
- MedlinePlus.com: Potassium
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Suppplements: Magnesium
- Harvard School of Public Health: Fiber
- Princeton University: Plantain
- Tropical Foodies: Boiled Plantains