Why Plantains are An Amazing Health Food
Ok, before I get too far into this article, let me admit that I acknowledge I have focused intently on the ketogenic diet over the past few years.
So, for me to write on an extremely dense source of carbohydrates might be a departure from the normal.
Let me couch this fact within this statement.
Carbohydrates are not evil AND, when we use carbohydrates wisely we can benefit greatly from the energy and nutrition they provide.
One of the best sources of carbohydrates is the plantain, or as I’ve heard it called, “bananas on steroids.”
Plantains are not a ubiquitous food here in the States, and I think that’s a shame, as they’re one of the healthier foods around.
And, not to knock bananas, but they’re definitely not as healthy as some people make them out to be.
I won’t digress into downplaying the health benefits of bananas, as we’re here to talk about plantains.
5 Good Reasons to Eat a Plantain a Week
First off, before we talk about plantains, let’s discuss what makes them different from bananas.
Just so you know, the answer is not much.
Plantains are basically a starchier version of bananas. And by that I mean they contain more complex carbohydrates than they do simple carb sugars.
They’re enjoyed all over the world, especially in the tropical regions in which they grow.
Because of the levels of starch in them, plantains are generally only eaten cooked, and most people who eat raw plantains are going to report back they’re not that good.
If you were to compare plantains to another food they’re going to line up with a potato (from a calorie perspective) but they have more vitamins and minerals.
Now that we’ve established what a plantain is let me show you why they’re a legitimate food to include into any kind of diet.
1 - They’re Rich In Antioxidants:
Like many tropical plants, the plantain provides a high level of free-radical fighting antioxidants.
One cup of cooked plantains gives you enough vitamin C to meet your daily recommended value. As you likely know, vitamin C is one of the most potent antioxidants and is known to help positively influence your immune health.
Actually, that’s selling vitamin C short.
There’s more than enough research to show vitamin C helps to fight against things like aging, heart disease, and cancer.
In addition to providing you with a surplus of vitamin C there’s also a fair amount of vitamin A and B-6 which are also notable antioxidants.
2 - They Can Help to Balance Blood Pressure:
One of the reasons I advocate for people to switch to a ketogenic diet is because of how good it is for your heart.
When a person eats too many carbohydrates and has a high intake of fat it can wreak havoc on their heart.
However, plantains contain a good amount of potassium, which is paramount to supporting the health of your heart.
A regular sized plantain (7-11 oz) provides you with 1,000 mg of potassium, which is 40-50% of your daily need.
3 - May Help to Control Blood Sugar:
Certainly one of the leading ways to maintain your health is keeping your blood sugar under control.
I’ve written about that extensively.
The good news is you can eat some kinds of carbs and not worry about what they’re going to do to your blood sugar.
As Malia Frey writing for VeryWellFit writes:
“Plantains are high in resistant starch. Just like other types of fiber, resistant starch doesn't raise blood sugar levels. By slowing down digestion, promoting satiety, and enhancing "good" gut bacteria, the resistant starch in plantains promotes glycemic control.”
If you were to eat a regimented amount of plantains while on a ketogenic diet the chances that your blood sugar would be close to perfect are extremely high.
4 - They Can Help To Heal Your Gut:
One more helpful attribute associated with plantain nutrient composition is the fact that they’re fiber dense. A cup of plantains has 4 grams of fiber.
While that’s not the highest amount of fiber on a weight-to-content ratio, the interesting thing about plantain fiber content is that top medical establishments like Harvard School of Public Health acknowledge that plantain fiber is both easy-to-digest and helpful for gut healing.
The prebiotic nature of the fiber in plantains gives probiotics something to eat and colonize on so that they can grow uninhibited in your gut.
Not all carbohydrate sources and not all sources of fiber provide this kind of food for probiotics and that’s what make them so unique and so beneficial.
What Are The Best Ways to Cook Them?
Glad you asked.
Since I’m not a chef, I’ve added a few links to YouTube videos I think you might find helpful