I was at a grocery market the other day looking for some fine fresh bananas. While I didn’t exactly find those, I did accidentally come across its twin brother. You didn’t know bananas had a twin brother? Well, I didn’t either. At least not until I brought them home. Can you imagine my disappointment when I peeled it open (with a knife by the way) and found out I bought a fraud? Well, as heart-broken as I was, I decided to Google it up and what I found shocked me. Plantain, or the twin brother of bananas, is not your average household fruit basket addition. This cunning little fella, plantain, is filled with so many nutrition values and health benefits that’ll SURELY make you want to buy a truck full… Well, not ‘literally’, but you get the point.
Scientifically named Musa × paradisiaca, plantain is a hybrid specie of Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. Although they look like exactly like bananas, however, they are slightly bigger in size. Furthermore, they are normally green in colour and have a firm flesh inside. Their peel is thicker as compared to bananas (explains why I had to use a knife) and they are starchier and lower in sugar. They are often termed as ‘green bananas’ or ‘cooking bananas’. Although, they have similar nutrition value as bananas, however, they completely differ in taste and flavour. Plantains have a rich starch content, therefore, they are not typically eaten raw. They need to be properly cooked in order to be enjoyed fully. Without further ado, lets head over to look at the nutrition facts and amazing health benefits of plantain.
Nutrition Facts of Plantain
Plantains can be green, yellow, or blackened peels based on their level of ripening. Green plantains are typically as firm like a potato due to the presence of high level of starch. Yellow plantains comparatively softer, sweeter, and less starchy. Blackened plantains have a deep yellow flesh. According to USDA, 100 g of plantain contains the following nutrients:
- 152 kcal Energy, 1.25 g Protein, 0.07 g Fat, 36.66 g Carbohydrates, and 2.2 g Fiber.
- 29 g Sugar, 0.18 g Sucrose, 1.09 g Glucose 1.02 g Fructose, and 32 g Starch.
- 2 mg Calcium, 0.75 mg Iron, 41 mg Magnesium, 31 mg Phosphorus, 431 mg Potassium, 2 mg Sodium, 0.18 mg Zinc, 0.116 mg Copper, and 0.109 mg Manganese.
- 2 mg Vitamin C, 0.1 mg Thiamin, 0.1 mg Riboflavin, 0.55 mg Niacin, 0.53 mg Pantothenic, 0.07 mg Vitamin B-6, 28 µg Folate.
- 121 g Saturated Fatty Acids, 0.019 g Monosaturated Fatty Acids, 0.031 g Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, 0.002 g Trans Fatty Acids, and 0.002 g Trans-Monoenoic Fatty Acids.
Health Benefits of Plantain
‘Plantain is not the hero we deserve, BUT definitely the hero we need right now’ and these amazing health benefits will convince you why.
1. Supports Digestion
Plantains are an excellent source of dietary fibre. A cup of plantain gives nearly 20 to 30 grams of fibre content, which is roughly 1/5th of the daily requirement. Dietary fibre adds bulks to the stool and stimulates peristaltic motion which aids in moving the food through the digestive tract. Furthermore, it takes part in secreting digestive and gastric juices and relieving the symptoms of diarrhoea and constipation. Lastly, fibre aids in the secretion of good bacteria in our intestine, which positively impacts our digestive system.
2. Weight Loss Agent
Although popular myth states that carbohydrate will make you fat and blow up like a bubble. That’s not exactly the case. The dietary fibre and starch present in plantains are in the form of complex carbohydrates. The high fibre and complex carbs increased satiety and reduced the overall appetite. As opposed to simple carbs, complex carbs are digested slowly, which keeps you satisfied for a longer period of time. Furthermore, dietary fibre fights against lipid intake, which is a major cause of obesity.
3. Boosts Immunity
In light of the nutrition facts, plantains are an excellent source of vitamin C, providing a good amount of our daily requirement. According to a research study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), vitamin C plays an active role in the production of white blood cells and collagens. Furthermore, it assists the body in the healing process and generating antioxidants. This strengthens our immune system and protects the body against common illnesses and diseases.
In addition to vitamin C, plantains are also an excellent source of vitamin B-6. This vitamin decreases the homocysteine levels within the body, which are associated with cardio-related diseases. As mentioned earlier, plantains are an excellent source of dietary fibre, which boosts the gastrointestinal system and facilitates its function. This can prevent the risk of developing colorectal cancer and related diseases.
4. Anti-cancer Properties
The nutrition facts of plantains reveal that it contains a rich content of antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, vitamin C, and Lutein + zeaxanthin. These antioxidants provide protection against various diseases and strengthen the ability of the body to get rid of free radicals. Free radicals are the by-products of cellular metabolism and cause oxidative stress. This causes the mutation of healthy cells into cancerous ones and develops a tumor in various organs.
5. Promotes Brain Function
Who needs books when fruits can make you smarter, right? That’s correct folks. Plantains can promote brain function and in fact, make you calmer and smarter. Plantains contain vitamin B-6 which is responsible for the secretion of norepinephrine and serotonin. Reduced levels of these neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers, are associated with depression. In this way, plantains keep our minds happy, stressed-free, and relaxed. That being said, plantains might be a great source of improving brain function, but you need to pick your book up.
6. Improves Heart Health
As mentioned in the nutrition facts, plantains are rich in mineral content, such as potassium. Potassium acts as a vasodilator – lowers blood pressure – therefore increases the blood flow throughout the body. Low blood pressure reduces strain on the cardiovascular and protects the heart against cardio-related diseases.
In addition to potassium, plantains also contain copper and iron. Iron plays an active role in the production of red blood cells. On the other hand, copper aids in taking up essential nutrients needed for the production of haemoglobin. Increased production of red blood cells improves the circulation of oxygen throughout the organs of the body.
The high fibre content present in plantains manages the levels of cholesterol in the body. It excretes the excess LDL (bad cholesterol) present in the body and increases the level of HDL (good cholesterol). This improves the overall functioning of the heart and keeps it healthy.
Furthermore, vitamin B-6 also plays a role in the regulation of homocysteine level. Homocysteine is a common amino acid present in our bodies. High level of this amino acid can result in cardio-related diseases.
7. Improves Vision and Skin Health
The nutrition facts of plantains suggest that the fruit contains a significant amount of vitamin A. Vitamin A is an essential component of rhodopsin, which is a light absorbent protein present in our eyes. This protein aids to support the normal functioning of the cornea and conjunctival membranes. In this way, vitamin A not only improves the vision but also protects the eye from night blindness.
In addition, plantain also contains nutrients, such as antioxidants like lutein and carotenoid alcohol zeaxanthin, which is formed from B-complex proteins. These components are a major part of the retina, a layer of light-sensitive tissues in the back of our eye. A research study was conducted by Dr Kwak-Wai Lam and Dr Paul Butt, which investigated the impact of zeaxanthin on eye health. The research showed that zeaxanthin acts as an antioxidant, therefore, has a direct link with improved vision and eye health. Furthermore, these antioxidants also protect the eye from age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
Vitamin A is associated with anti-ageing properties and reducing blemishes, wrinkles and dark spots. Furthermore, it also enhances the complexion of the skin and makes it glow. Furthermore, it reduces skin sensitivity towards sunlight and provides natural protection against the UV rays from the sun.
8. Reduce Inflammation and Relieves Pain
As we discussed earlier, plantains are packed with loads of vitamin C, which takes part in the healing process of the body. It also works to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. In reaction to inflammation, our body releases substances, such as C-reactive protein and interleukin-6. A research study was published Drug Design, Development, and Therapy which analyzed by the impact of vitamin C supplements on the level of C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 in the body. 64 obese individuals were given 500 mg supplement of Vitamin-C two times a day. It was observed that the supplements significantly reduced the levels of C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 in the subjects.
9. Helps to Quit Smoking and Boosts Respiratory System
Research shows that plantains are more effective than the ‘no smoking’ sign in your office. While plantains reduce nicotine craving, the sign merely destroys the aesthetics of the wall and contributes no positive effort in this regard. Plantain contains nutrients which can help our mind stay relaxed and cope with the stress of nicotine withdrawal. Due to the presence of vitamin B-6, plantains can help in keeping our mood happy. This impacts our mind psychologically and gives the strength to quit smoking. Tea made from the leaves of the plantain plant can aid in removing congestion from the upper respiratory tract.
In order to fully enjoy the nutrition value and health benefits of your beloved plantain, certain precaution need to be taken into consideration;
- Although, starch allergy is highly common, but not entirely impossible. Typically, people who are allergic to starch should avoid potatoes and similar snacks. Such people should consult their doctor prior to consuming plantains.
- Although plantains are healthy treats, however, they lose their ability to be so when cooked in high fat, oil, or sugar content. This can increase the risk of obesity, heart diseases, and cancer.
- You need to store the Plantains properly in order to keep them fresh for a longer time. In order to ripen them faster, store them at room temperature in a paper bag. A plastic bag can seal in moisture and make them rot.
- People with a banana allergy will probably be allergic to plantains. Although cooking a fruit deactivates it allergy-causing protein, however, it is best to consult a doctor beforehand.
Last but not least, anything taken in excess can’t be healthy for your body or health. While the diverse nutrition facts and a great deal of health benefits can seem tempting, it’s important to consume your plantain in an appropriate amount.
Oh, plantains. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE? There you have it folk. That’s a complete list of astonishing health benefits and nutrition value you get through the amazing plantain. Plantains are an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins, and fibre.
In light of the list of nutrients, plantain aids in the digestion process and acts as a weight loss agent as well. Furthermore, the antioxidants present in plantains boost the immune system and fights off cancer-causing free radicals. It reduces inflammation and aids in the healing process. In addition, it improves the brain, eye, skin, and heart health. Lastly, it physically and psychologically helps to quit smoking.
So hurry up! Order up some fresh plantains, Google up some interesting recipes, and start making yourself a nutrition filled plantain dish.