Plantains: Healthy or Diet Buster?

Plantains: Healthy or Diet Buster?

Plantains are a staple food source in many parts of the world. Related to bananas, these unique hanging fruits are native to South America, but have also been found and cultivated in India, East Asia and elsewhere.

Plantains are available to be eaten in two different states. When they are yet to be completely ripe, they are green. This indicates that they are heavy in starch and that they may be closer in nature to a potato. After they ripen, they become sweet and have a flavor that is more similar to a banana. Because of this versatility, plantains have been included in staple dishes and also as desserts or as fruit additions to diets as well. Read on for some information about the various nutritional benefits of plantains and also whether or not they are truly healthy for including in your diet.

Plantain Nutrient Information

Plantains that are on the less ripe side, and which are still considered starches, are the more healthy of the various types of plantains. These foods provide an excellent source of carbohydrates when mashed up and boiled or cooked in some other fashion. They are also naturally low in sugar, sodium and fats of various types. They provide a good amount of dietary fiber and will also give a number of other nutrients and health benefits as well.

Ripened plantains do contain a bit more sugar than their unripe counterparts. They are lower in carbohydrates that are starchy and a staple food in nature. However, the sugars that they have are generally beneficial to your body; they are much easier to digest than processed and refined sugars, making ripe plantains a healthy alternative to many other types of sweet foods.

Plantain Health Risks

Plantains themselves are generally very healthy and should not be considered a diet buster. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before you include plantains in every meal that you eat while on your diet. First, plantains are typically cooked in order to be made edible. While this is oftentimes a healthy way to eat these fruits, plantains are occasionally fried. When this is the case, the oils and butter that are used for frying the plantain contribute to a much higher fat content, higher sodium, higher calorie levels and much more. This quickly begins to outweigh the benefits of eating plantains.

Therefore, if you plan to eat plantains as part of your diet and hope to use them to help lose weight, be very cognizant of how the plantains that you're eating are prepared. If you find that plantains are fried, try to avoid them except in very small portions. Generally, opt for the starchy version of plantains for a set of nutrients that doesn't contain excess sugar.

For more information, speak with a nutritionist about how plantains can help or hurt your diet strategy and contribute to weight loss.