Plantain vs Banana: What’s the Difference
It is easy to see why some people mistake plantains for bananas. First of all, they look like the bananas that everyone enjoys. The only issue is that they are larger, have thicker skin, and come with a bright green color. Aside from the obvious differences in physical characteristics, there are also differences in their nutrition profile and taste. Learn more about the main differences between a banana and a plantain.
You can look at the plantain as the big sister of the banana. They both belong to the same genus of herbaceous plants, called “Musa”. Is a plantain a fruit? Yes, it is a fruit in the same that bananas are.
Bananas have their origins in Southeast Asia. They are best consumed raw as they have a sweeter taste and more delicate texture than plantains. This does not mean they are not perfect in many dishes. In fact, bananas are a mainstay in many European and North American cuisines.
Plantains also originated from Southeast Asia, although they are now more common in Egypt, the Caribbean, Africa, and India. It has a very starchy and less sweet nature. It is best used for cooking and not really that enjoyable to eat raw. That is why many Caribbean food products and dishes use plantain as one of the main ingredients.
A hundred grams of ripe banana contains 89 calories, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 1.1 grams of protein, and 0.3 grams of fat. It also contains about 12 grams of sugar, which is more than 50% of its carbohydrate content. It is also a good source of folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6. Bananas are rich in potassium and are a good source of phosphorus and magnesium.
Plantain nutrition, on the other hand, varies depending on whether it is cooked or raw. A cup of raw plantain provides 181 calories and 47.2 grams of carbohydrates. Of these carbohydrates, only 22.2 grams are sugar, while 3.4 grams are dietary fiber. Raw plantains also contain 0.6 grams of fat and 1.9 grams of protein.
A cup of fried plantain, meanwhile, can provide 365 calories and 58 grams of carbohydrates. What is surprising is that it has a lower sugar content than raw plantain at only 4.3 grams. It contains 13.9 grams of fat, 1.8 grams of protein, and 4.1 grams of dietary fiber.
In general, plantains contain less sugar than bananas. However, it does contain more starch. It also has more vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium than bananas. Do take note that cooking plantains can alter its nutrition profile.
There is not much difference when it comes to banana and plantain health benefits. They have almost the same nutrients, although in different amounts. Both bananas and plantains contain bioactive compounds that can exert antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Antioxidant compounds can help neutralize free radicals in the body. The neutralization of these electrically-charged ions allows cells to function in a more normal fashion. Antioxidants can also exert anti-inflammatory effects. Since many chronic diseases are due to inflammatory processes, both plantains and bananas can be good adjuncts to conventional treatments.
Both of these fruits are also rich in potassium. They can help in the reduction of the risk of stroke and heart disease. They can also lower blood pressure among persons who have hypertension. People taking diuretics can also benefit from the potassium content of both plantains and bananas.
Both fruits can also promote healthy digestion. They both contain dietary fiber that can facilitate better fecal movement through the colon. In a way, they can boost the immune system by facilitating the enhanced absorption of critical nutrients.
Bananas are sweet, making them ideal in desserts and other food items that require natural sweetness. They are perfect in quick breads, pies, muffins, and other cooked desserts. Bananas are best consumed raw, however. One can toss them in a fruit salad or topped in a porridge.
Plantains are common in many African, Latin, and Caribbean cuisines. They are perfect additions to any savory dish because of their starchy nature and not-so-sweet flavor profile. Many people associate fried plantains with “tostones” that one can enjoy as chips. There are also sweet varieties of plantains, which are ideal for making ‘maduros’. It involves the caramelization of the plantain to help give it a sweeter flavor.
Bananas and plantains differ in their physical properties and their nutrient values. They can also differ in their culinary applications. Bananas are best for desserts while plantains are perfect for savory dishes. Other than these, both fruits can provide the same health benefits. This should make both banana and plantain a good addition to one’s diet.