For many Caribbean and Latin American households, plantains are a sort of dietary superhero. The starchy fruit is eaten in many different forms: ripe, fried to make sweet platanos maduros, or flattened and then fried to make crispy tostones. Any plantain enthusiast will tell you that they're all pretty damn delicious.
Aside from tasting amazing, of course, plantains are also a great source of many (perhaps unexpected) nutrients and vitamins. While it's still wise to enjoy their fried iteration in moderation, in general, the fruit just might exceed the benefits of its counterpart, the banana. Read on to find out why.
- Plantains are a rich source of energy. One cup of raw plantain can carry up to 181 calories. This not only makes it a fulfilling fruit, but also a hearty meal addition on the cheap.
- They are rich in magnesium, which plays a very important role in your energy, blood sugar levels, and bone strength.
- According to the USDA, plantains carry nearly 2,000 IU of vitamin A, way more than bananas, which carry a mere 76 IU. Vitamin A is essential for your vision, dental health, and your overall immune system.
- To no surprise, they also offer much more vitamin C than bananas; plantains carry up to 32.9 mg and bananas 10.3 mg. Vitamin C is effective at protecting your immune system and warding off infections and harmful free radicals.
- With around 900 mg of potassium, one plantain can amount for nearly 20 percent of your daily intake need.
- They're great for pregnant women! Plantains contain a good amount of folates — about 52 mcg — that help support healthy pregnancies.
- Plantains are considered a high-fiber fruit, meaning they aid digestion and maintain regularity.
- They're a healthier alternative to potatoes. Try making tostones if you're craving potato chips — they'll be even more satisfying and have more nutritional benefits!