Bananas Vs. Plantains: Why Knowing The Difference Can Save Your Life

group of plantains on wooden table

(group of plantains)

Plantains are a close relative of the banana and tend to be mistaken for them. Nearly 120 countries grow much of the world’s supply of plantains — like Uganda, Colombia and Cameroon. Plantains are starchier, contain less sugar than bananas and are much more versatile as a cooking ingredient. Also, unlike bananas, plantains are typically cooked before eating.

Despite their popularity in other countries, plantains are not as common in the U.S., but they are available in most large grocery stores. The plantain is nutrient-filled fruit that provides many vitamins and minerals, and it can be a great substitute for rice or potatoes. Here are three main reasons why knowing and eating plantains over bananas can have a profound effect on your every day life:

1. It can boost your brain power

Vitamin B6, also called pyridoxine, generates several important neurotransmitters that carry information from one cell to another. A serving of plantains can provide nearly 25 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.

A cup of plantains also contains 5 to 10 percent of the iron you need daily. Iron helps carry oxygen through your bloodstream, allowing for improved brain function, improves quick thinking on your feet and further benefits your muscles.

So you want to feel in a better mood? Try some plantains!

Ripe fried plantains. Common in Puerto Rico and other parts of the Caribbean. If you need a recipe to print, use the one below:

(sliced and fried plantains)

2. It is one of the biggest boosters of your Immune 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.

Plaintains help relieve constipation provide relief from hemorrhoids and digestive conditions like diverticulitis, and can also help stabilize blood sugar, preventing diabetes.

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. (7) 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.

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.

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