Plantains are the less-sweet equivalent to the banana. Sweet bananas are much more popular in the United States and Europe, but plantains are an extremely important staple food for people in many tropical countries. Unlike sweet bananas, plantains are almost always cooked before eating. In fact, they don’t taste that good raw, so don’t be tricked by their banana-like features. Cooked plantains are nutritionally very similar to a potato calorie-wise, but contain more of some vitamins and minerals. They are a rich source of fiber, vitamins A, C, and B-6, and the minerals magnesium and potassium. Here are some of the most important plantain health benefits.
1. Great Source of Potassium
There are 913 milligrams of potassium in only one cup of cooked, mashed plantains. That is about 20 percent of your recommended daily amount of potassium, making plantains one of the most potassium-rich foods in the world. Potassium is the third-most abundant mineral in the body. When depleted, low potassium affects the function of a number of organs and processes. Potassium is an electrolyte and is affected greatly by the amount of sodium in the body. Potassium plays a major role in regulating blood pressure because it combats the effects of sodium.
One plantain supplies several grams of fiber to your diet. Fiber is an important nutrient because it helps decrease your chances of suffering from heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers, such as colon cancer. Fiber also helps prevent constipation by keeping your intestinal tract working the way it should.
3. Reduces the Number of Harmful Free Radicals
Free radicals are either made when our bodies break down food or are exposed to harmful elements like tobacco smoke and other radiations. They play a huge role in premature aging, diseases, and cancer. However, some studies have shown that vitamin C is an antioxidant that fights free radical damage. And with a serving of plantains providing over 35 percent of the vitamin C needed per day, plantains have been dubbed to be one of the best vitamin C foods available.
4. Cold And Cough
Plantain has been used to treat coughs and colds for centuries. Some research confirms that it has immunostimulatory and anti-inflammatory actions that can be beneficial when dealing with an infection in the upper respiratory airways. Plantains also have antiviral properties against some viruses that cause the common cold. It’s also a demulcent, relieving irritation in mucous membranes. So the next time you get a nasty cold or cough, turn to this great herb for relief.
5. Weight Control
Carbohydrates aren’t always a bad thing for weight management like most people believe. The fiber and starch found in plantains are complex carbs. These are less processed and more slowly digested than the simple carbs found in processed foods. They will keep you full and more satisfied for longer after a meal.
6. It Boosts Sexual Performance
Some studies have shown that the nutrients contained in plantain can help improve sexual performance. Additionally, eating plantain on a regular can also improve male fertility, thicker sperm, and volume. Health experts have also suggested that unripe plantain with ginger and garlic are great when it comes to matters that concern sexual performance.
Plantains grow in tropical countries from Central and South America to the Caribbean, Africa, and Southeast Asia. A great thing is that plantains are available all year long. They are considered a staple food in many regions, providing a significant source of calories. Fortunately, plantains can also be found easily in supermarkets and grocery stores.