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Plantains VS Bananas: Who Comes Out On Top?
They look similar. They feel similar. To some extent, they taste similar. But as any nutrition-minded person knows, plantains and bananas are NOT the same. In this article, we will explore what the differences are between these two popular fruits and how you can incorporate them into your diet in the most healthy and delicious ways possible.
Plantains and bananas: cousins of the fruit world
Bananas and plantains both belong to the musa genus of fruits, and believe it or not, are technically considered berries from botanical classification standpoints. Since these fleshy fruits contain the seeds that grow new plants. Musa plants are indigenous to tropical regions of the world, and for this reason, both bananas and plantains are staple ingredients in cuisines from the Caribbean region, Africa, Southeast Asia and India.
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What makes bananas and plantains different from one another?
- Size: Plantains are longer and thicker than bananas, and then have a longer stem at both ends.
- Texture: Bananas have a sweet taste and softer texture, while plantains have a savory taste and a firmer, more texture.
- Color and skin type: Bananas have thinner skin, are green when unripe, and turn yellow as they ripen. There are also other, smaller varieties of bananas which have red skin. Plantains on the other hand have a much thicker skin which is green when ripe. As it begins to get overripe, it will turn yellow, dark yellow, and brown much like a banana. The skin of a plantain is so thick it usually requires one to cut the tips off with a knife before peeling off the remaining skin.
The differences do not stop there. Perhaps the most significant difference between these closely related fruits is how they are used. Bananas, as most people know, are generally a snack food which are consumed raw, by hand. While it is possible to eat a plantain raw, if it is ripe enough they are traditionally used in cooking.
Fried plantains are a common dish in various Asian, African, and Latin American countries. Due to their starchy texture, they can even be sliced, fried, and eaten like potato chips. Plantains are, in some ways, a more versatile fruit, but both of them are healthy and delicious in their own distinct ways.
Which is healthier?
We have established what these two fruits are, how they are different, and how they are used in cuisine. But what about their nutritional profiles? Given a choice between the two, which is more healthy?
Both bananas and plantains are considered high-glycemic index foods, with respective scores of 52 and 40. This means that they will elevate blood sugar levels after eating, but this is to be expected with any fruit and should not be a cause for concern for most people.
In terms of nutritional content, let’s see how plantains and bananas stack up against one another:
- Carbs: Bananas 23g (8% daily value) vs. Plantain 31.2g (10% daily value)
- Dietary fiber: Bananas 3g (10% DV) vs. Plantain 2.3g (9% DV)
- Sugars: Banana 12g vs. Plantain 14g
- Protein: Banana 1g (2% DV) vs. Plantain 1g (2% DV)
- Vitamin A: Banana 64 IU (1% DV) vs. Plantain 909 IU (18% DV)
- Vitamin C: Banana 8.7mg (15% DV) vs. Plantain 10.9% (18% DV)
- Potassium: Banana 358mg (10% DV) vs. Plantain 465mg (13% DV)
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As you can see, they are very comparable except for vitamin A content, where plantains clearly offer a much higher amount. At the end of the day, the bottom line is that you can’t go wrong with either of these delicious fruits and you should be incorporating more of them into your diet if you aren’t already.