Plantain is a green to yellow boat shaped fruit (shade of color depends on stage of ripening) of a large shrub called Musa paradisiacal
It is a close relative of banana, looks like banana, but bigger, longer, has thicker skin and often needs to be cooked before eaten.
It is sometimes called plantain banana and contains a low GI starch, excellent for weight control, slow energy release and good for diabetics, with surpassing nutritional value. It is eaten all over Africa and Southern and Central America. Plantain can be eaten boiled, roasted, grilled, or fried.
This fruit should not be confused with a small medicinal leafy herb known by the same name, but belonging to the Plantago family.
Unlike its banana cousin, plantain has more dietary fibers, less water and less sugar. It is rich in complex starch when unripe.
This plant is found all over the tropics, from Florida to Brazil; Egypt, Nigeria, Japan, to the Caribbean.
When not yet ripe, it is hard, and contains loads of starch. Its skin remains green, and has a neutral taste.
If kept at room temperature for about a week, it gradually goes through different phase of ripeness.
When the skin is light yellow, it is half ripe, and assumes a sweet taste if eaten at this stage. If left for a couple more days, it would become very ripe, with the skin becoming black, and the fruit soft. The starch here would have changed into sucrose.
This nutritious fruit can be eaten boiled whether green, yellow or black. It can be fried. When still green and fried, it is called plantain chips. If yellow or black and gets fried, it is referred to as banana chips or in Nigeria, as Dodo.
It can be mashed and used to thicken soup, or even eaten like mash potatoes.
When allowed to ferment, it is a source of alcoholic drink.
The fruit is extremely low in fat, high in dietary fiber and starch. It is very low in cholesterol and salt too.
It is a good source of vitamins A, B6, and C which helps maintain vision, good skin, and build immunity against diseases. It is also rich in potassium, magnesium and phosphate.
When cooked green, is very good for diabetics, as it contains complex carbohydrate that is very slowly released.
A diet of green plantain is filling, and can be a good inclusion in a weight loss diet plan.
Include this banana-like fruit in your menu list today and try out any of its recipes below.
For more info on plantain and how to cook plantain, please follow the links above to the respective section.
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