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It grows in bunches on a tree and changes colors from green to yellow when it ripens over time. Anyone would immediately think of bananas when you give them this description for a plantain. But when we say that you can use this same item for savory dishes like fried, grilled, or roasted plantains, you might think it’s a vegetable. Since it looks like bananas but there’s the fact that you would use it for several dishes, you might wonder: is plantain a fruit or veggie?
Technically speaking, plantain is a fruit. Its classification as fruit comes from the fact that plantains belong to the Musa genus, which is the same family of bananas. Many cultures treat plantains as vegetables by cooking them because of their starch content, a major difference between plantains and bananas. In this article, we discuss plantains in terms of their difference from the bananas that you might be more familiar with. We also get into the potential health benefits of plantains and some of the best uses to experience this versatile fruit’s benefits.
Differences Between Plantains vs. Bananas
Is a plantain a banana? You might ask this question since they both have similar shapes. Some people may even refer to plantains as cooking bananas, solidifying their common genus. As their alternate name suggests, plantains are another type of banana that you cook. This quality is partly what separates plantains from ordinary bananas that you might associate with your morning smoothie.
Another separating factor between plantains and bananas is the carbohydrate source of each fruit. Plantains owe more of their carbs from their starch content. Meanwhile, banana carbs mostly come from the fruit’s sugar content. Plantains having a higher starch content than sugar content makes them ideal as a cooking ingredient for various dishes. Essentially, you can think of plantains as the fruit equivalent of potatoes in terms of their culinary versatility.
Health Benefits of Plantains
Plantains are nutritious and offer several vital nutrients that you would also find in bananas, including:
- Potassium: This helps your nerves function properly. Potassium also helps with muscles contract and maintains a regular heartbeat. Cell health also benefits from potassium as the nutrient helps with transferring other nutrients into cells and removes waste products from them. You can also offset some harmful effects of sodium or salty foods if you maintain a diet rich in potassium.
- Magnesium: Diets rich in magnesium can help you maintain a healthy immune system and have stronger bones.
- Vitamin C: This vitamin is essential for tissue growth and repair throughout our entire body, which is particularly useful for the body’s healing processes.
- Fiber: Diets rich in fiber can help you manage weight. Fiber also contains properties that prevent constipation.
- Antioxidant Compounds: You can reduce your risk against certain cancers and heart diseases when you maintain a diet high in antioxidants. These nutrients work by helping delay and prevent cell damage.
About every cup of plantains has around 180 calories and 50 grams of carbs. Bananas tend to have fewer carbs than plantains, which you might prefer if you are cutting on carbs in your diet.
How to Eat Plantains
Since plantains have a larger starch content than bananas, they might not be the best ingredient for desserts. Societies in the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Central and Southern America commonly enjoy plantain by preparing different savory dishes. Here are some easy dishes from other websites you can try to cook and enjoy plantain’s many benefits as a savory fruit.
How to Make Plantain Fufu
Fufu is a West African and Caribbean dish that you can make with plantains or cassavas. They are dough-like dishes that are best served with soup. Cooking plantain fufu involves chopping, blending, and cooking green plantains.
- Step 1: Peel and chop green plantains into small chunks.
- Step 2: Put the plantains in the blender until smooth.
- Step 3: Cook the blended plantains over a stove.
- Step 4: Stir until the plantains have a stretchy consistency.
You can then use the fufu similarly to dough. Many make the fufu into cinnamon roll-like shapes, while others make them into more of a standard bread roll shape. Since it has a dough-like texture, it’s versatile in this sense.
How to Make Plantain Mash
If plantains are similar to potatoes in their starch content, it follows that they can be used similarly in recipes. Indeed, much like mashed potatoes, you can make plantain mash.
- Step 1: Cut the plantains into large pieces and boil them.
- Step 2: Once the plantains are tender, drain the water.
- Step 3: Using a masher or a fork, mash the plantains until they have a smooth consistency.
Once you’ve done this, you can flavor your plantain mash however you’d like. Some recipes recommend making the plantain mash sweet using cinnamon and sugar, while other recipes suggest using more savory flavors like bacon.
How to Make Plantain Chips
You can usually find this treat in the grocery store, but you can enjoy them fresh by making them yourself. And, as a bonus, these are quick to make.
- Step 1: Peel the plantains and slice them thinly.
- Step 2: Toss the plantain slices in oil and put them in the oven.
- Step 3: Heat until they’re crispy, about 10-25 minutes.
Conclusion: So Is a Plantain a Fruit or Vegetable?
Plantain is a fruit. It belongs to the same family as bananas. However, plantains contain more starch than the bananas you might be familiar with, making them suitable for savory dishes. This quality may make you think that plantains are vegetables.
As fruits, plantains offer several nutrients associated with bananas. Neither plantains nor bananas are more nutritious than the other. You can still enjoy their benefits if you cook plantains. You can cook plantains with various methods. Consider the different recipes we prepared above to enjoy your plantains.