While plantains are similar to bananas, they are considered more vegetable than fruit due to their high starch content. Plantains are often cooked before serving and are used in many savory dishes much like a potato and very popular in Western Africa and the Caribbean. Plantains are often fried or baked, may be known as “cooking bananas” and are a rich source of fiber, vitamins A, C, and B-6, plus the minerals magnesium and potassium.
Plantains are high in carbohydrates, low in fat and provide a number of health benefits:
1. Rich Source of Potassium – One cup of plantain provides 20 percent of your recommended daily amount of potassium, making plantains one of the most potassium-rich foods available. Snacking on plantains or offering them as a side dish are both delicious ways to reach your daily potassium goals and help naturally reduce high blood pressure.
2. Regulates Digestion – Plantains are high in fiber which plays a significant role in keeping you regular. One cup of plantain provides 20 percent of the fiber recommended daily. Fiber also makes you feel full, which can help with weight control.
3. Reduces Harmful Free Radicals – Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant that fights free radical damage. One serving of plantains provides 35 percent of the vitamin C needed per day, making it one of the best vitamin C foods around.
4. Boosts Your Immune System – Plantains provide 35 percent of your daily recommended amount of vitamin A plus 35 percent of vitamin C, both help control your immune response, fighting illness and infection.
5. Promotes Healthy Brain Function – Plantains provide 25 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin B6. Vitamin B6, also called pyridoxine, supports important neurotransmitters that carry information from one brain cell to another and also supports the production and release of hormones like serotonin and norepinephrine, which keep moods stable.
6. Rich Source of Magnesium – Plantains provide 15 percent of your daily requirement of magnesium, which is especially important because magnesium supports over 300 biochemical processes and reactions in your body. Magnesium supports calcium absorption, which can slow or reverse osteoporosis and also lowers your risk of type 2 diabetes by controlling blood glucose levels.