I am starting a Food Remedy Series, highlighting the many foods that Nature provides to help you prevent disease.
This week, the healthy food remedy is the Plantain. I guess I picked the Plantain (sorry for the pun) because I have them growing on my South Texas wildlife preserve. We feed them to our tortoises and parrots.
Is A Plantain A Banana?
A Plantain looks like a banana, it feels like a banana, but it certainly doesn’t taste like a banana especially when eaten raw.
Plantains are a member of the banana family, and in many countries are considered the berry of an herb – not the fruit of a tree. Plantains are almost always cooked before eating because they are unpleasant to eat when raw. The Plantain is a very starchy banana, and all that starch means that it really should be cooked before eating.
Calorie-wise, cooked plantains are nutritionally similar to a potato, but they contain more vitamins and minerals. They are a rich source of fiber, vitamins A, C, B9 and B6, and the minerals magnesium and potassium. You cook them in dishes like a potato would be cooked; usually fried or baked.
Ounce for ounce, Plantains contain more potassium than the more palatable, table bananas. So, that means that Plantains are good for blood pressure.
One cup of sliced, cooked plantains provides 716 milligrams of potassium (K), which is about 20% of the Recommended Dietary Value.
Remember that potassium is a key essential nutrient for heart health, which helps lower your blood pressure, and helps prevent heart attack and stroke.
A study in Naples, Italy determined that eating 3 to 6 servings a day of potassium-rich foods, like plantains, reduced, and even eliminated, the need for blood pressure medications.
That’s a good thing.
Plantains are known for preventing the following digestive problems:
- inflammation of the digestive tract
- ulcerative colitis
Just like the mucin found in raw cabbage helps prevent ulcers by thickening the stomach lining, a flavonoid called leucocyanidin in unripe Plantains seems to do the same thing by protecting the lining of your stomach.
Hey, this helps restore stomach damage from taking aspirin.
How To Eat A Plantain
The most popular way to eat Plantains is to fry them into crispy Plantain chips.
They are best to fry when green. You can thinly slice them and fry them like chips. As they ripen, the starch turns into sugar, so when you cook them when they are ripe, the sugars will caramelize and create sweet, crispy edges.
Think healthy french fries.
After they are fried, sprinkle them with garlic powder, salt, cayenne or chili powder.
Plantains contains vitamin C. Just 1-cup of cooked Plantains contains around 17 mg of vitamin C, a major essential immune supporter. Aa a comparison, an orange has 51 mg of vitamin C.
Plantains also contain B-vitamins, especially folate (B9) and B6, and B9 assists with anemia. Plantains are also high in potassium and magnesium, and even the peel and leaves have healthy uses.
Plantain peels are high in starch and latex, which can be used in food processing, pharmaceuticals, and in food and water treatments.
The flour made from plantain peels is high in dietary fiber, and can be used to make healthy cookies and other baked goods.
Plantain leaves have many uses, too. The leaves are larger and stronger than traditional banana leaves, so they can be used in many food preps. Plantain leaves are used as food wrappers, to hold your food together when its cooking (similar to corn husks and tamales), and you can store left-overs in them to better hold in the flavors without toxic chemicals, like those found in plastics and aluminum foils.
In most Caribbean countries, they use the leaves for dinner plates.
Just FYI: when you cut a Plantain, wear latex gloves because the sap from the plant can stain your clothes, and the starch gets your hands sticky.
How about some Plantain chips for a snack? Ah, it’s health in a peel.
Plantain Chip Recipe
Green Plantains are preferable, but any stage of ripening will work. Remember that they get sweeter the more they ripen.
- Wearing latex gloves, cut off the tips of the Plantain, and slice the sides with a knife and peel;
- Cut into thin slices; do not season before frying;
- Heat oil in deep-fryer at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C);
- Deep fry the slices, cook about a dozen at a time, until golden brown on both sides (about 3 to 4 minutes);
- Drain in a large bowl lined with paper towels, and season to taste while still warm.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and is educational in nature. The FDA may not have evaluated some of the statements. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please discuss with your own, qualified health care provider before adding supplements or making any changes to your dietary program.
Before taking vitamins, consult your doctor; pre-existing medical conditions or medications you are taking can affect how your body responds to multivitamins.