Plantains look like bananas, but unlike bananas, plantains are almost always cooked before they’re eaten. Raw plantains have a bitter taste, and cooking them brings out their flavor and makes them more appetizing. The banana-like fruits are rich in certain vitamins and minerals that contribute to good health. Plantains are available at most large grocery stores and can add new flavors and recipes to your healthy-eating plan.
Men need between 30 and 38 grams of fiber a day and women need between 21 and 25. Getting these adequate amounts of fiber promote an efficient digestive system, which can prevent constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticular disease. Eating plenty of fiber can lower your cholesterol level, which might reduce your risk of heart disease. Fiber helps regulate blood sugar levels as well. A 1-cup serving of cooked plantain slices contains 3.5 grams of fiber toward your daily goals.
A 1-cup serving of cooked plantain slices supplies 716 milligrams of the 4,700 milligrams of potassium you need each day. Potassium is an essential mineral that regulates your heart beat and enables your muscles to function normally. The mineral plays a role in your digestive health and helps support a strong skeleton as well.
Vitamin A is involved in numerous bodily functions including reproduction, immunity and communication between the cells. One of the most important jobs of vitamin A is to support your eyesight and help prevent certain eye disorders. Men need 3,000 international units of vitamin A each day and women require 2,333. A 1-cup serving of cooked plantain slices supplies 1,400 international units toward these goals.
A 1-cup serving of cooked plantain slices supplies 16.8 milligrams of vitamin C, which is about 20 percent of your daily requirement. A serving of plantains provides 1.16 milligrams of niacin. You need between 14 and 16 milligrams of niacin each day to support the health of your nerves, skin and digestive system. The same serving of plantains contains small amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, folate and vitamin K.
Replace potatoes with plantains in your favorite vegetable soup and stew recipes. Saute plantain slices as a healthy side dish that pairs well with barbecued meat or spicy tamales. Add cooked plantain slices to bean salads as another way to incorporate them into your diet. Arrange raw plantain slices on a baking sheet and brush them with canola oil. Sprinkle the slices with garlic powder and black pepper and roast them until they are crisp. The plantain chips are a nutritious alternative to potato chips. Serve the chips with fresh tomato salsa or black bean dip. Saute plantains until they are soft, drizzle them with honey and top them with a sprinkle of cinnamon for a healthy dessert.