Growing up, I have often wondered about the difference between plantains and bananas. Why do we cook plantain before eating but eat bananas raw? They look alike, why are they consumed differently? One day, I decided to experiment, I ate a ripe plantain raw and it didn’t taste that bad, just that it didn’t have that banana taste. I realized that it tasted well when fried or boiled and it contains too much starch to be consumed raw. If they are indeed different, why do they look so alike?
Plantains are members of the banana family, but they are starchier and lower in sugar, which means that when they are ripe, they will still be green in color. If you get them when they are overripe, they may have started to turn yellow or black. While a banana makes a great, raw on-the-go-snack, plantains aren’t usually eaten raw because of the high starch content.
A banana is undoubtedly a fruit. It is classified as a fruit all over the world. Although the plantain is classified as a fruit, in many countries, it is used more like a vegetable than a fruit, according to Fruits and Veggies Matter. They can be boiled, baked or fried, much like potatoes. Neither the banana nor the plantain is superior to the other nutritionally, as they are both very healthy, nutrient-rich foods.
However, cooking methods can affect the nutrition content of these fruits, making them more or less healthy. This has less to do with the fruit itself and more to do with what you’re adding to it. If you’re concerned about blood sugar management, you’ll still want to monitor portions of both foods because they do contain carbohydrates that can increase blood sugar.
Keep in mind, though, that both plantains and bananas are whole foods that contain fiber. This may help reduce blood sugar increases in some people, especially compared to more refined, processed foods that don’t have fiber.
The Bottom Line
Bananas and plantains are easily confused because of their visual similarities, but you’ll find it’s easy to tell them apart after tasting them. Their nutrition content and potential health benefits are similar, but their applications in the kitchen are not. Plantains are starchy and contain less sugar than bananas. They’re better suited for savory dishes, whereas bananas are easily used in desserts or on their own.
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