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Banana vs plantain: how they stack up in nutrition and in the kitchen

When looking at nutritional value and how versatile they are, how does banana vs plantain pan out?

Banana vs plantain in a snapshot

From healthtips.tips

Americans eat bananas by the boatloads. In the United States alone, each person eats more than 11 pounds of bananas per year, according to insteading.com. India, China and the Philippines are the largest producers of bananas.

Plantains – sadly still strangers to many Americans – rank 10th in staple foods that are feeding the world today, according to this article. If you’re not familiar with them, you should get to know them!

Like bananas, plantains grow in tropical climates, making them available year-round. A plantain tree’s flowers develop into a bunch of 5 to 10 fruits. African countries including Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana and Nigeria are the largest producers of this fruit.

Nutritional value of a banana vs. plantain

Both bananas and plantains contain vitamin C and A, as well as potassium and magnesium. These nutrients help to regulate digestion and blood pressure, boost your immune system, reduce free radicals and prevent osteoporosis.

Bananas have higher sugar and fiber content, but fewer carbohydrates than plantains. Plantains are starchier while containing less sugar. Both bananas and plantains can raise your blood sugar, which is critical to know if you’re diabetic.

So banana vs plantain, which should we really eat by the boatload?

Well, plantains provide slightly higher levels of vitamins C and A, potassium and magnesium. But really, we should make room for both in our diets because each can be used each very differently.

Getting creative with banana vs plantains

We typically treat bananas as the fruit they are, adding them to smoothies, cereal and baked goods – when not eating them as a whole fruit. Plantains, however, are usually treated like a vegetable. Their denser texture makes them more versatile, but also typically eaten cooked rather than raw.

  • Plantains can be:
  • mashed, steamed, baked, roasted or boiled as a side dish.
  • a substitute for rice or potatoes (think: chopped in soup).
  • used to make grain-free breads that are not as sweet as banana bread.

When shopping for plantains, note that they change in color with ripeness like bananas do, though not as quickly.

  • green (less ripe) = chips
  • yellow (ripe) = fried, cooked, boiled or grilled
  • black (sweet and soft) = baked or as dessert

You can store plantains with other fruits or vegetables without it affecting their ripening process. During prep, cut the tips off the plantain and slice the thick skin along the creases without penetrating the fruit.

Bananas, on the other hand, should be stored away from other fruits or vegetables to prevent them from ripening too quickly. You can also wrap the stems in plastic to slow the ripening.

Both bananas and plantains are members of the Musa family. So if you have an allergy or intolerance to bananas, you may also have one to plantains.

So the next time you go shopping, grab some bananas and plantains and try out some of these recipes!

For more ways to incorporate another nutritious food into your diet through creative recipes, read Reap the health benefits of pumpkin year-round!


*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice.