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The plantain, or Musa paradisiaca, is a crop of the genus Musa. Many people confuse it with the banana, because they look very similar. However, plantains and bananas are different and they are generally used for different purposes.

Difference between plantains and bananas

Unlike bananas, that are generally sweet, plantains are more starchy. They are longer than bananas, and greener. When they are ripe, their skin, which is thicker than the banana’s, turns black. Bananas are fruits while plantains are considered to be vegetables and they are used for cooking.

Plantains contain less moisture than bananas, about 65 percent, while bananas have 83 percent.

Consumption of plantains

Plantains are considered to be staple food and they are used mostly like potatoes. They are native to India and Southern Asia and today they are very popular in Western Africa, the Caribbean and the Americas. Many cultures use not only the fruit of the plantain plant, but also the leaves, which are big and can be used as a dish for serving meals. Plantains also have an important symbolic role in almost all Hindu rituals.

Plantains are mostly boiled, fried or added to soups. They can also be grilled, steamed or baked. Ripe ones are used in desserts and sweet dishes.

Plantains nutritional value

Plantains have a different nutritional value depending on whether they are green, fried or ripe.

One cup of sliced green plantains contains 181 calories, 1 gram of fat, 6 milligrams of salt, 739 milligrams of potassium, 54,8 milligrams of magnesium, 50,3 milligrams of phosphorus, 0,2 milligrams of zinc, 27,2 milligrams of vitamin C, 1668 IU of vitamin A, 0,2 milligrams of vitamin E, and it also contains vitamins of the B complex.

Three medium slices of fried plantains contain 170 calories, 2 grams of fat, 480 milligrams of potassium, 9 grams of dietary fiber, 1 gram of protein, 2 grams of sugar, 4% of vitamin C and 2% of iron.

Five medium pieces of sweet or ripe plantains have 310 calories, 8 grams of fat, 5 milligrams of sodium, 6 grams of dietary fiber, 19 grams of sugar and 63 grams of total carbohydrates.

Plantains are considered healthy because of their low content of saturated fats, cholesterol and sodium. They are a great source of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C and potassium.

Boiled plantains can be used as bland food for infants and elderly, and they can be dried and ground into flour used in many recipes. Plantain chips are probably the most popular plantain-based food.

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