A plantain is a banana, right?
I don’t think anyone would blame you if you thought the two were one in the same. But really, you’d only be about half-right. Yes, it is true that in botany there really isn’t a formal distinction to be made between the plantain and the banana, but cooking-wise, the two are pretty unique.
For one, people tend to cook plantains. They’re also starchier and less sugary, a quality that gives them a bit more of a health benefit compared to the banana and let’s people use them more like a starchy veggie — i.e., a potato. You’ll see them as the main ingredient in a lot of Latin dishes for just this reason; just give mangu or bacalao a try.
But the reason we love plantains isn’t just because they’re super versatile but because they’re also fairly nutritious. In fact, we probably couldn’t list all the health benefits you could get from this starchy fruit-turned-vegetable if we tried, but here’s four to get you started.
- Lots of Potassium
This one might be a bit of a no-brainer, but we think it’s worth mentioning anyway. Yes, plantains pack a lot of potassium, which is good for regulating blood pressure and undoing some of the effects of sodium — a big contributor to the #1 cause of death in the United States. Just one cup of plantains, boiled and mashed, will give you 20% of your daily potassium needs.
- Plenty of Fiber
We all know that fiber is good for keeping your colon functioning well. And while that’s certainly true and really important — there’s at least some evidence that links colon cancer with constipation — fiber is also really good for the heart. Mostly because it helps maintain both cholesterol and blood sugar.Plantains are a great source of fiber, offering up 20% of you daily recommended serving.
- Immune System Boost
Like everything else in your body, your immune system needs plenty of nutrients to perform well — particularly Vitamin A and C. Vitamin A is a really powerful antioxidant and vitamin C helps keep your immune system response up to snuff. And plantains provide a whopping 36% of your daily recommended servings of both.
- Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is one of those nutrients we don’t talk about as much, but it’s actually fairly crucial for brain health. It keeps your internal clock in check and maintains your mood, keeping those gloomy days at bay. And as you’ve probably already guessed, plantains provide plenty of it. You can get as much as 24% of your daily serving from just a single cup.