Make no mistake about it if, when shopping for groceries, you come across what seem to be unusually huge bananas with unusually thick skins, you should not buy them. That is not a bunch of bananas.
In point of fact, they are the starchy Caribbean relative of the banana known as plantain.
Plantains aren’t as well-known as bananas in the United States, despite the fact that bananas are a common grocery item in most homes. Although these two tropical fruits may have a lot in common with one another, they are also remarkably distinct from one another.
This article compares plantains with bananas and covers all you need to know about each of these fruits.
What Are Bananas and Plantains?
First things first, let’s start by describing precisely what a banana is and how it differs from plantain.
The word “banana” refers to the fruit that may be eaten that is produced by many species of herbaceous plants that are classified as members of the genus Musa. The fact that bananas are technically classified as herbs may come as a surprise to you, given that we more often refer to them as fruits.
The fact that it contains the seeds of the plant that it originates from makes it a “fruit,” despite the fact that bananas cultivated for commercial purposes are sterile. This delectable fruit may also be classified as a herb since it originates from a herbaceous plant known as a banana “tree,” which is a herbaceous plant due to the absence of woody tissue in its stem.
They have their roots in Southeast Asia but are now a common ingredient in the cuisine of a number of countries in North America and Europe. They are long and thin with thick skin, and they are used both cooked and uncooked in a wide variety of cuisines, most notably in sugary sweets. As the fruit continues to mature, the flesh of the fruit that can be eaten is ever more tender and pleasant.
Although it is a kind of banana, plantain has an entirely distinct culinary use and taste profile than bananas. They, too, can trace their roots back to Southeast Asia, just as bananas can. They are now cultivated in almost every region of the globe and are often utilized in the cuisine of the Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa.
In compared to bananas, they often come in substantially bigger sizes and have skins that are far more substantial. In addition, they contain less sugar and have a much higher starch content; this may be one reason why they are used more as vegetables than as fruits, especially in savory meals. Their hue may vary from green to yellow to a dark brown, depending on the stage of ripeness they have reached.
Plantains, on the other hand, are often eaten after being cooked, in contrast to bananas, which may be eaten uncooked at any time. This is mostly attributable to the high starch content of these foods. Depending on the recipe, they could be prepared by frying them in oil, sautéing them, baking them, or boiling them.
They Have a Lot in Common
Putting aside the fact that plantains and bananas come from different botanical families, there are a number of parallels between the two fruits, the most noticeable of which being their look. But that’s not the end of it. The similarities between them continue with the following elements.
They’re Both Very Nutritious
Both bananas and plantains are wonderful options for obtaining essential nutrients and minerals in their natural forms. Additionally, they include a high amount of fiber and antioxidants. The following is a breakdown of the nutritional content that can be found in one hundred grams (half a cup) of bananas and plantains.
|Carbohydrates||23 g||31 g|
|Fiber||3 g||2 g|
|Potassium||358 mg||465 mg|
|Magnesium||27 mg||32 mg|
|Vitamin C||9 mg||11 mg|
The amount of carbohydrates contained in any of these fruits varies as their ripeness progresses. However, the most of the carbohydrates in bananas originate from their sugar content, whereas the majority of the carbohydrates in plantains come from their starch content.
They May Have Some Health Benefits
Based on the information about nutrients that was presented in the previous part, it is evident that bananas and plantains have about the same quantity of these essential elements. Because of this, they often provide a comparable variety of advantages for one’s health.
For example, the human body may benefit greatly from the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that both of these fruits provide thanks to the same bioactive components.
They also contain extraordinarily high quantities of potassium, a mineral that has a significant impact on the reduction of an individual’s blood pressure when they are hypertensive. This, in turn, lowers the chance of developing cardiovascular disease.
In addition to this, they contain a significant quantity of fiber, which is known to play an important part in the maintenance of healthy digestive function. It’s possible that eating a plantain or banana every day is all that’s required to stave against illness.
Their Culinary Uses Are Very Different
Now that we are familiar with all of the ways in which plantains and bananas are comparable, let’s investigate the ways in which they vary. The first of these relates to the ways in which they may be used in the kitchen.
There are certain civilizations in the globe that do not make a definite difference between the two fruits, and this might vary depending on where you are in the world. However, in most locations, plantains are occasionally referred to as “cooking bananas,” while the sweeter kind is frequently referred to as “dessert bananas.” This is because plantains are a relative of the banana.
Cooking With Bananas
Bananas are usually seen on the list of ingredients for baked products such as muffins and pies, in addition to their appearance in many prepared sweets. They are also delicious when eaten raw, either on their own or as part of a fruit salad. You can even dip them in chocolate, include them into your morning cereal, or use them as a spread for peanut butter on toast by slathering them on.
They are one of the fruits that have the widest range of possible uses.
Cooking With Plantains
Due to the fact that they are both starchy and rough, they are often prepared as a flavorful side dish in the cuisines of the Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa. Alternately, you might include them into the main course that you are preparing. They may be consumed at any point in the ripening process; however, you will need a knife to remove the tough skin that covers them.
It’s common practice to slice yellow and green plantains, fry them in oil, and consume them like chips. You may also let them develop more before deep frying them or baking them until the outside caramelizes. Both of these methods provide delicious results. In any case, they are a delectable addition to the meal that you are enjoying in either case.
Which Is Healthier?
When comparing the nutritional value of plantains and bananas, neither one is definitively better than the other. They are both equally nutritious and contain the same quantity of essential vitamins and minerals.
However, bear in mind that the techniques of cooking you choose might impact the respective nutritional profiles of the foods you prepare, resulting in the foods being less nutritious as a consequence.
It is also crucial to be cautious of the amounts, especially in those who have diabetes, since it is known that eating a lot of bananas or plantains may cause a spike in blood sugar if you consume them in large numbers.
In spite of this, the high fiber content of these foods acts to offset this effect, and in some people it may even assist regulate an increase in blood sugar levels.
The Bottom Line
Although plantains and bananas may be comparable in a number of ways, the primary distinction between the two lies in their flavor profiles and the ways in which they may be used in the kitchen. On the other hand, the positive effects on health and nutrition are comparable.
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