Characteristics and properties of plantain

What is a plantain?

Plantain, green banana or cooking banana

Is plantain a fruit?

Plantain, green banana or cooking banana  (Musa sapientum L. var. Paradisiaca), is a fruit of the Musaceae  family, such as banana.

Differences between bananas and plantains

A plantain is:

  • Larger in size than  a banana
  • Has thicker, greener or  more brownish skin
  • Its pulp is more mealy, richer in starches, and therefore much less sweet than a banana, which are richer in sugar.

How can a plantain be consumed?

It can be consumed similarly to the potato, because that way its starches are more digestive. In some recipes it is also eaten raw, for example in fruit smoothies.

Fried plantain is a very popular snack, although in its processing it loses most of its properties, mainly the vitamins of this fruit. Plantain flour is also made, with which cakes are prepared.

Nutritional properties of green plantains

The green banana mainly provides complex carbohydrates, starches, but unlike other starchy foods such as potatoes, most green banana starches are retrograde or resistant starches, that is, they act as fiber, because they are not assimilable to the organism.

Carbohydrates in plantains are therefore mostly complex, and are gradually absorbed into the body, or in the form of fiber. It also has a lower sugar content, and is practically fat and protein free. At the nutritional level it constitutes an energy food, similar to other vegetables such as tubers (potato, sweet potato, …).

Plantain is above all an excellent source of fiber, because its resistant starches partially act as soluble fiber, and a small part, as insoluble fiber, therefore provides the benefits of both.

Health benefits of plantain

Plantain properties
Summary of the medicinal properties of green banana or plantain, a food that stands out for its content in starches, prebiotic fiber, vitamin B6 and potassium.

Benefits of plantain for digestive system

Plantain  is a great ally of the digestive system. To improve digestive health, the best way to eat them  is boiled or in vegetable purees.

Fried plantain is not suitable, because excess frying oil produces acidity and a discharge of bile that is irritating at the intestinal level. Among the different digestive problems in which green plantains can help us, we highlight:

Plantains or green bananas are suitable when there is constipation.
  • Gastritis: Its starches are demulcent and protective of the gastric mucosa, therefore, they are suitable in case of gastritis, heartburn, ulcer or stomach problems. In any of these cases, the best way to eat it is boiled, seasoned with virgin olive oil. (Fried foods, such as fried plantains, are strongly discouraged because they delay gastric emptying and increase acidity.) In addition, in one study a flavonoid was extracted from the male banana (leukocyanidin) that helps repair aspirin damage to the gastric mucosa.
  • Constipation: The green banana has both soluble and insoluble fiber effects, helps to avoid or solve constipation, facilitate defecation and reduce the pain of hemorrhoids when defecating.
  • Intestinal diseases: Being very rich in resistant starches, a type of highly fermentable fiber, which favors the proliferation of beneficial bacteria in the colon, it has a regulatory effect and a prebiotic effect. Consuming this food helps regenerate the intestinal flora and is recommended after treatments with antibiotic medications, which can weaken the intestinal flora or microbiota. It is also suitable in case of intestinal diseases, Crohn’s and colitis, in which the colonic flora can be affected.

Plantain to increase defenses

Bananas and plantains , along with garlic, are the foods richest in vitamin B6 or pyridoxine, necessary for the proper functioning of the immune system. Being water soluble, it is recommended to steam them if you want to preserve more of this vitamin.

Green bananas  for hypertension and heart disease

Bananas and plantains are very rich in potassium, necessary for the contraction of muscles, especially the heart. In case of hypertension, it is recommended to increase the contribution in potassium, magnesium and calcium (all of them intervene in the contraction of the muscles).

Of these three minerals,  Green bananas and  very rich in potassium and magnesium, being very suitable in hypertension, especially if you take medications for hypertension that increase the elimination of potassium.

Plantains have a higher potassium and magnesium content than bananas , although both are good sources of these nutrients. For the same reason, it is a food that is recommended in diets for athletes,

Attention !!! : Because of its high potassium content, this fruit should be eliminated in low potassium diets.

Plantain  for cholesterol

Being  a food very rich in fiber, it has a  great potential to lower cholesterol, as long as it is included within some healthy diet guidelines.

Only one unit (approximately 200gr)provides 5 grams of protein a day, out of the 25-30 grams of fiber daily recommended by the WHO. A diet rich in fiber, with plant foods such as green bananas, helps reduce high cholesterol levels, prevents obesity and associated diseases such as type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.

Vitamins and minerals of plantain

Like bananas, it stands out for its high content of potassium, magnesium, important for athletes and for the heart.

This food is the basis of food in many tropical countries, where it is a very suitable food in summer to replace electrolytes such as potassium, whose losses increase with sweat or perspiration.

To introduce it into our diet, it is recommended to use it as a substitute for rice or potatoes, in main dishes (for example, alternate consumption). It is highly recommended in sports diets (pre and post competition), because it is a much richer option in potassium and magnesium than cereals.

Other situations in which it is recommended to increase the magnesium intake of the diet: diet for fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, bone fractures, depression, stress, asthma, psoriasis, lupus, etc.

Like bananas, green bananas also contain vitamin B6, which contributes to the proper functioning of the immune system.

Green banana can be used in sweet recipes, such as these cocoa truffles. With the green banana you can prepare original desserts, which are also suitable for people with gluten  allergies. (celiac)

punto rojo More information on plantains and bananas

This article was endorsed by Elisenda Carballido - Dietitian nutritionist. Postgraduate in Phytotherapy and master in Nutrition and Metabolism.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

20 October, 2021

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