What Are the Disadvantages of Plantains?

Plantains, known as the cooking bananas, are a good source of potassium and vitamins C, B-6 and A, but they also have disadvantages. Though plantains are a type of banana, the American Diabetes Association considers them starchy vegetables that must be added into your mealtime carb count. Some typical cooking methods for plantains also render them a relatively high-fat food.

Green plantains on a wooden table. (Image: bonchan/iStock/Getty Images)

Preparation Required

Plantains are not a grab-and-go food as regular bananas are. Instead, you need to prepare and cook plantains. This food requires a special peeling technique. Cut both tips off the plantain, then slice it into several sections. Cut three vertical slits in the peel of each chunk before removing the peel in pieces. You may have to remove parts of the peel that cling to the flesh with a paring knife. Plantains are typically sautéed, fried or used in soup or stew.

Sugar and Carbohydrates

Many of the calories in plantains come from sugars. One cup of sliced plantains has 22 grams of sugar. Overall, most of the 181 calories in 1 cup of plantains come from carbohydrates. If you are diabetic and need to count your carbohydrates to control your blood sugar, know that 1 cup of plantains has about 30 grams of carbohydrates. In general, the American Diabetes Association recommends limiting carbohydrates to 45 to 60 grams per meal.

Frying Adds Fat

When plantains are fried, the number of calories is significantly increased -- and these additional calories come from fat. Just 1 cup of fried plantains has almost 14 grams of fat and 365 calories. Frying plantains also adds to the carbohydrate count, since the plantains lose more than half of their water volume when cooked in this manner. Fried plantains have about 58 grams total carbohydrates.

Plantain Chips

Plantain chips often are sold as a snack food in grocery stores. When plantains take this form, they have 18 grams of carbohydrates and 8 grams of fat in a typical 1-ounce serving, which may be listed on the nutrition label as a 28-gram serving. A 1-ounce serving has 151 calories. The typical plantain chip also is salted, with 1 ounce giving you 57 milligrams of sodium. Plantain chips usually come in 4- to 12-ounce bags. Eating an entire 4-ounce bag means you take in more than 600 calories, 72 grams of carbohydrates, 32 grams of fat and 228 milligrams of sodium. The American Heart Association recommends limiting sodium to 1,500 milligrams daily.

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