Health and nutritional benefits of plantains

Plantains are a good source of carbohydrates and dietary fiber. The green fruit contains higher hemicellulose content (approximately 6%) than most fruits and vegetables. In addition to dietary fiber, green bananas contain a high amount of essential minerals such as potassium and various vitamins, such as A, Bi, B2, and C (Chandler, 1995). The quantities of nutrients in M. paradisiaca and M. sapientum are very similar, except that the former contains more starch. They are both significantly high in potassium, 400 mg/100 g pulp, and have a trace amount of sodium (approximately 1 mg) and iron. Musa paradisiaca is richer in B vitamins, including thiamine, niacin, and riboflavin, as well as vitamin A, compared to M. sapientum (Chandler, 1995). Plantains are rich in vitamin C, providing approximately 20 mg for every 100 g of flesh (Chandler, 1995).

Because of the low lipid and high energy values, bananas are recommended for obese and geriatric patients. Bananas are useful for people with peptic ulcers, for treatment of infant diarrhea, and for celiac disease and colitis. The potential of dried unripe plantain or banana pulp powder in the treatment of ulcers has been noted (Dunjic et al., 1993). Plantains contain vitamin A and thus can act as an aid to digestion. The juice from the male bud provides an apparent remedy for stomach problems in many people. The ripe fruit has also been noted for use in the treatment of asthma and bronchitis.

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