Plantains are a major food staple in West and
Central Africa, the Caribbean islands, Central America, and northern, coastal
parts of South America. They are treated as a starchy fruit with a relatively
neutral flavor and soft texture when cooked. As with all bananas, part of the
attractiveness of plantains as food is that they fruit all year round, making
them a reliable all-season staple food. Plantains can be boiled, baked, or
fried, both when ripe and in their green state.
The plantain has many of the same nutritional
benefits of the banana, and in its raw state is fat-free, cholesterol-free, and
high in potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C.
Plantains are solid source of carbohydrates with a
low-fat content, but they also provide many other health benefits as well.
Plus, they don’t contain any significant levels of toxins.
Plantains are Great Source of Potassium. There are
913 milligrams of potassium in one cup of cooked, mashed plantains. That
accounts for about 20 percent of your recommended daily amount of potassium,
making plantains one of the most potassium-rich foods on the planet. Potassium
is the third-most abundant mineral in the body, but when depleted, low
potassium can affect the function of many organs and processes. Potassium is an
electrolyte and is affected greatly by the amount of sodium in the body.
Potassium plays a major role in regulating blood pressure because it combats
the effects of sodium. Many Western diets include too much sodium, which means
we could all use more sources of potassium. Snacking on plantains or adding
them as a side dish are delicious ways to reach your daily potassium goals and
help naturally remedy high blood pressure. Potassium levels also affect
skeletal and smooth muscle contraction, which allows for regular digestive and
muscular function. It also helps regulate heart rhythm, and studies show that
people who consume diets with high potassium levels tend to be at a lower risk
of stroke, osteoporosis, and renal disease.
Plantain helps Regulate the Digestive System.
Fiber has a profound effect on the digestive system and plays a significant
role in keeping it regular. One cup of plantains provides almost a fifth of the
fiber recommended daily, which is roughly 25–30 grams. As a high-fiber food,
plantains add bulk to food intake, which aids digestion. That means, according
to research from the University of Kentucky’s Department of Internal Medicine and
Nutritional Sciences Program, consuming plantains is a great way to relieve
constipation and provide relief from hemorrhoids and digestive conditions like
diverticulitis. Fiber also make you feel full, which can help with weight
control. Thus, increasing intake of dietary fiber can also help enhance weight
loss in obese individuals. Soluble fiber is also known to help lower
cholesterol and blood pressure, which prevents heart disease. Fiber can also
help stabilize blood sugar.
Plantain reduces the Number of Harmful Free
Radicals. Free radicals, which are made when your body breaks down food or when
you are exposed to other harmful elements like tobacco smoke or radiation, play
a part in aging, diseases, and cancer. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that fights
free radical damage.
A serving of plantains can provide over 35 percent
of the vitamin C needed per day, making it one of the best vitamin C foods
around. The body can’t store vitamin C (excess is released in urine) or produce
it independently, so getting the daily recommended amount is very important. Vitamin
C is one of the most powerful vitamins, as it has a hand in growing and
repairing tissues all over the body. It’s involved in forming a protein used in
making skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels, as well as maintaining
cartilage, bones, and teeth.
Plantain Bananas can boost the Immune System. Looking
to boost your immune system? Then plantains are the perfect snack. They pack 36
percent of your daily recommended amount of vitamin A. As another powerful
antioxidant, vitamin A provides many benefits to the body. Along with vitamin
C, it helps control your immune response, which keeps illness at bay, and many
important immune system responses rely on vitamin A to perform correctly. Vitamin
A also has a large part in skin health and cell growth and is a necessary
element for wound healing. Cells that overreact to certain foods are the root
of food allergies and ultimately cause inflammation. Vitamin A’s antioxidant
properties can neutralize free radicals and help prevent inflammation caused by
overreacting cells. It also helps with eye health and vision, especially in low
Plantain promotes healthy brain function. Vitamin
B6, also called pyridoxine, generates several important neurotransmitters that
carry information from one cell to another. A serving of plantains can provide
up to 24 percent of your daily amount needed of vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 benefits
healthy brain function and, according to research published in the Cochrane
Database of Systematic Reviews, helps make hormones like serotonin and
norepinephrine, which keep moods stable, and melatonin, which regulates the
body’s clock. Homocysteine levels (an amino acid linked to heart disease and
nervous system damage) are also controlled by vitamin B6. The vitamin keeps
levels low to help prevent damage and maintain the health of blood vessels. This
vitamin in plantains is one of the eight B vitamins that aid in processing food
into energy and metabolizing fats. Like vitamin A, B6 also helps slow the onset
of eye diseases like macular degeneration. It works with B12 to produce red
blood cells and cells in the immune system. Boosted levels of vitamin B6 are
also linked to prevention or decrease of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Plantain is a Great Source of Magnesium. Magnesium
deficiency is a very common problem thanks to Western diets and depleted soil
due to over farming. Plantains offer about 16 percent of your daily need for
magnesium, which is especially important because magnesium affects over 300
biochemical reactions in the body.
From helping to regulate blood pressure to
preventing osteoporosis, there are many ways magnesium keeps the body healthy.
Magnesium directly affects calcium absorption, which can avert or reverse
osteoporosis. It also lowers the risk of getting type 2 diabetes by controlling
blood glucose levels via carbohydrate metabolism and insulin regulation.
Magnesium has also long been used to help with migraine headaches, insomnia,
Prevent Aspirin-Induced Ulcers. In a study from
the International Journal of Research in Pharmaceutical and Biomedical
Sciences, dried plantain powder showed a significant ulcer-healing effect on an
aspirin-induced gastric ulcer. Individuals who use nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drug therapy for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and
chronic pain are at high risk for developing ulcers in the membrane layer of
the stomach. According to the study, dried plantain can stimulate the growth of
the inner lining of the stomach.