Plantain Food Profile – Foodology 101

plantain benefits


Origin & Description 

Plantains are a staple and favourite food eaten in Nigeria. They are loved for their sugary taste when ripe. With a  (Scientific name: Musa paradisiaca), they are also known as cooking bananas and belong to the banana family. They look like bananas but are generally  larger and firmer when unripe. Ripe plantains have a softer pulp and yellow skin that becomes softer as it ripens while unripe plantains have a harder pulp and firmer and green skin. Plantains are native to tropical regions including West and East Africa, South East Asia and Northern Australia.

Nigerian plantains


Most plantains are hybrids derived from the cross of two wild species, Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana


Unripe plantains have a neutral flavour 

Ripe plantains have a sweet flavour 

Nutritional Value For Plantain – (based on 1 medium plantain – 178g):

Calories: 241(kcal)
Protein: 2(g)
Dietary Fibre: 4(g)
Carbohydrates: 53(g)
Fat: 1 (g)
Vitamins: A, B6 , C
Minerals: Potassium

Juice Yield

plantain recipes

Culinary Uses

Depending on their stage of ripeness, the inner pulp of plantain can be fried, boiled, baked, microwaved or grilled over charcoal, either peeled or unpeeled. It is used for a variety of culinary purposes:

  1. Very ripe plantain pulp is cut up and fried as an appetizer or side dish; called dodo in Nigeria and kelewele in Ghana.
  2.  Both unripe and ripe plantrains are also thinly sliced and used to make plantain crisps or plantain chips as they are fondly called.
  3. Unripe plantains are also roasted/ grilled whole and enjoyed with sides like fried fish and hot pepper in Western Africa. Roasted plantain is referred to as boli in Nigeria; a favourite street food.
  4. Plantains can also be boiled, baked and served with other dishes in such as beans pottage, soups and leafy vegetables.
  5. The flesh can also be dried and milled into plantain flour known as elubo-ogede in Yoruba and used to make a swallow dish called fufu or amala in Nigeria.
  6. Overripe plantain pulp can be pureed and used to make a fried snack called mosa; baked as a dessert or used as batter coating for meat.


Plantain Health Benefits

Plantains are a solid source of carbohydrates with a low fat content, but they also provide a number of other health benefits as well. Plus, they don’t contain any significant levels of toxins. 

1. Healthy Heart & Skeletal System

Plantains are one of the most potassium rich foods in the world and potassium being  third-most abundant mineral in the body is vital for the function of a number of organs and processes. Potassium plays a major role in regulating heart rhythm and blood pressure as it combats the effects of sodium. 

Potassium also improves regular digestive and muscular function and studies show that people who consume diets with high potassium levels tend to be at a lower risk of stroke, osteoporosis and renal disease. 

2. Regulates the Digestive System

One cup of plantains provides almost a fifth of the fiber recommended daily, which is roughly 25–30 grams. As a high-fiber food, plantains add bulk to food intake, which aids digestion. Consuming plantains is a great way to relieve constipation and provide relief from hemorrhoids and digestive conditions like diverticulitis. 

Fiber also make you feel full, which can help with weight control. Fiber can also help stabilize blood sugar.

3. Reduce the Number of Harmful Free Radicals

Free radicals, which are made when your body breaks down food or when you are exposed to other harmful elements like tobacco smoke or radiation, play a part in aging, diseases and cancer. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that fights free radical damage.

A serving of plantains can provide over 35 percent of the vitamin C needed per day, making it one of the best vitamin C foods around. The body can’t store vitamin C (excess is released in urine) or produce it independently, so getting the daily recommended amount is very important.

Vitamin C is one of the most powerful vitamins, as it has a hand in growing and repairing tissues all over the body. It’s involved in forming a protein used in making skin, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels, as well as maintaining cartilage, bones and teeth.  

4. Boost the Immune System

Plantains pack 36 percent of your daily recommended amount of vitamin A. As another powerful antioxidant, vitamin A provides a number of benefits to the body. Along with vitamin C, it helps control your immune response, which keeps illness at bay, and a number of important immune system responses rely on vitamin A to perform correctly. 

Vitamin A also has a large part in skin health and cell growth, and is a necessary element for wound healing. Cells that overreact to certain foods are the root of food allergies and ultimately cause inflammation. Vitamin A’s antioxidant properties can neutralize free radicals and help prevent inflammation caused by overreacting cells. It also helps with eye health and vision, especially in low light. 

5. Promote Healthy Brain Function

Vitamin B6, also called pyridoxine, generates several important neurotransmitters that carry information from one cell to another. A serving of plantains can provide up to 24 percent of your daily amount needed of vitamin B6.

Vitamin B6 benefits healthy brain function and helps make hormones like serotonin and norepinephrine, which keep moods stable, and melatonin, which regulates the body’s clock.

6. Great Source of Magnesium

From helping to regulate blood pressure to preventing osteoporosis, there are many ways magnesium keeps the body healthy. Magnesium directly affects calcium absorption, which can avert or reverse osteoporosis. It also lowers the risk of getting type 2 diabetes by controlling blood glucose levels via carbohydrate metabolism and insulin regulation. Magnesium has also long been used to help with migraine headaches, insomnia and depression. 

Suggested Daily Intake

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