Plantains are actually not pronounced “plan-TAYNEs” like most people think – they are pronounced “PLAN-Tuns”). If your family has roots in the Caribbean, West Africa, South America and some parts of Asia, you’re already familiar with plantain and probably eat them often with rice and beans. For those who grew up eating the typical American fruit choices of bananas, apples and oranges, you’re in for a treat!
Plantains look similar to bananas, but they are actually considered a vegetable instead of a fruit, and should be cooked before eaten unless very black. Plantains are extremely nutritious and offer several health benefits in addition to their delicious flavor. One medium plantain is low in sodium, low in calories, has zero fat, high in potassium and contains 2 grams of protein. It also meets 40% of the RDA for vitamin A, 50% RDA for vitamin C and 15% for magnesium. Plantains are also a good source of fiber.
Plantains have three unique stages of ripeness:
- GREEN PLANTAINS…Taste more like a potato with a starchy texture. At this stage, the interior is yellowish or slightly pink. The fruit is firm and is often used as side dishes like plantain chips.
- YELLOW PLANTAINS…are the middle stage of the fruit. These plantains can have some brownish-black spots. Their role now is both vegetable and fruit and is used in dishes that request for a slightly sweet taste and firm texture.
- BLACK PLANTAINS…are very ripe and are typically found in sweeter recipes. These plantains are all black or spotty black and are soft. Black plantains can be eaten without being cooked.
Plantains Are Full of Fiber
One medium plantain supplies about 4 grams of fiber to your diet. Adequate daily fiber is important because it helps decrease your chances of suffering from heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers, such as colon cancer. Fiber also helps prevent constipation by keeping your intestinal tract working the way it should – keeping you regular.
Plantains Are Loaded With Beta-carotene
Plantains are also a source of beta-carotene, which the Mayo Clinic says you need to produce sufficient amounts of vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for eye health as well as normal growth. A diet lacking in vitamin A can result in difficulty seeing in the dark, dry eyes, eye infection and unhealthy skin. Adding cooked plantains to your diet is one way to increase your intake of this important vitamin.
Plantains Supply the Mineral Calcium
Your bones, teeth, nails and muscles rely on an adequate intake of calcium to maintain their health and their strength. Alvarez says that plantains supply a good amount of calcium. Calcium contributes to strong bones, which helps prevent breaks and fractures as well as diseases, such as osteoporosis as you age. Calcium also aids in keeping your teeth healthy so you are less likely to experience cavities, periodontal disease and teeth that fall out easily. Including plantains in your diet can help you consume more calcium.
Plantains and Vitamin C
Plantains are also a source of vitamin C. One 3.5 oz serving of plantain provides 20mg of vitamin C. This translates to between 40mg and 60mg of vitamin C, depending on the size of your plantain. Consuming enough vitamin C helps your body fight off infections that can lead to sickness, and it also promotes healthy gums, teeth and skin. Getting plenty of vitamin C also helps your body absorb the iron you consume from your food so you are able to produce red blood cells and provide oxygen throughout your body.
Try this super easy recipe for baked plantain chips at your Superbowl party.
- 2 pounds of green plantains
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds.
- Score and peel the plantains, then slice them diagonally about ⅛" thick.
- Place sliced plantains in a large bowl and toss with oil, then season with salt and pepper..
- Arrange slices in a single layer on two rimmed baking sheets, make sure they don't overlap.
- Bake until golden and crisp, 20-30 minutes. After 15 minutes rotate the baking sheets and flip the plantain chips over for even cooking.
- Let them sit on the baking sheet 3-5 minutes before removing. Serve immediately.
- Plantain chips soften at room temperature, so if you need to re-crisp them, just pop them back into the oven for about 5 minutes.
Category: Appetizers & Snacks