There is a big similarity between bananas and plantains, yet, they both have a few differences both in usage and flavor.
What is the difference between plantains and bananas?
Banana is simply the term used to address edible fruits produced by several large, herbaceous plants that belong to the genus Musa. Botanically, bananas are classified as berries.
Bananas are originally from South East part of Asia but are commonly used in Europe and North American cuisines. They can be distinguished by their thick skin and long slender shape.
There are different varieties of bananas, but the most common ones are the sweet, yellow looking bananas.
They appear green and difficult to peel when they are yet to ripen, but turn bright yellow and then dark brown as it ripens.
This makes peeling through them easily. They can be eaten cooked or raw, and can also be modified to make several other things, such as ice creams and smoothies.
Plantains are also classified as a type of “banana” but with a different culinary application and flavor profile than it’s close cousin, “banana”.
Just like bananas, plantains are also from Southeast Asia, but they are cultivated all over the world. You can easily find plantains all over Africa, Indonesia, some tropical areas on America, Egypt and even India.
Plantains can easily be distinguished by their large sizes and tough and thicker skin than bananas. They also come in shades of green, yellow and dark brown color. Unlike bananas, plantains are tough, starchy and not so sweet.
In fact, you would need to cook or fry your plantains to enjoy them. You may not enjoy eating plantains raw.
Plantains and bananas are both considered fruits from the same plant family. Although they have a lot in common, and they could pass as the same fruit but they aren’t, especially since their flavor profiles aren’t the same.
Asides the difference between plantains and bananas and their botanical classifications, these fruits also share some health-promoting and nutritional qualities.
Plantains and bananas are both nutritious
Both fruits are very good source of nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants.
They are also a good source of complex carbohydrates. There are roughly 31 grams of carbs in 100 grams of plantain, while your sweet yummy banana could contain about 23 grams.
Nonetheless, the number of gram can change depending on how ripe the fruit is. For plaintains, carbs come from the starch it produces, while in bananas, the carbs come from sugars.
They both have similar amount of calories, (about 89 to 120) calories per 100 grams. However, neither plantains nor bananas provide a major source of protein or fat.
Health benefits of plantain and banana
Since plantains and bananas provide a similar nutritional composition, they may also provide similar health benefits.
Recent research has indicated that the bioactive components present in plantains and bananas may contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Also, both fruits contain a high level of potassium. A mineral that is very essential in minimizing the risk of high blood pressure and heart diseases.
They also help in promoting digestive health as they both contain fiber.
Culinary use of plantains and bananas
How plantains and bananas are used in the kitchen solely depends on who is doing the cooking. Cultural distinction also plays a major role in how they cook either of these fruits.
Plantains are commonly referred to as “cooking bananas,” and it’s close cousin “bananas” are considered “dessert bananas.”
Using bananas to cook
Due to their sweetness, bananas are frequently used in desserts. They are also sometimes used in backed goods such as muffins, pies and breads. They are also very tasty when eaten raw (ripen).
Even more delicious when dipped in chocolate or used as spread on toast.
Using plantains to cook
Plantains are more common in Caribbean, Latin and African cuisines. They are tough and starchy when raw, and they have thicker skin than bananas.
But despite their fruity nature, plantains are also considered vegetables when it comes to their culinary applications. This is because of their low level of sugar, compared to bananas.
Similar to bananas, they appear green, then yellow when ripe and dark-brown when over ripe. The darker they get, the sweeter they become. Some people even eat them raw when they become very ripe just like bananas. All you need to do is peel and eat.
Unripe and ripe plantains can also be sliced and fried. It is very common in the West of Africa, where people fry and add plantain to their rice or beans.
Others make them into chips by slicing them into little pieces and fried dry.
Which is healthier between plantain and bananas?
It is important to note that neither plantain nor bananas is superior to each other when nutrition is questioned. They are both healthy and nutritious for human consumption.
Nevertheless, the nutritional content of these fruits can be affected, depending on the methods of cooking. This could make them more or less healthy. It has more to do with what you are adding to the fruit than the fruit itself.
You can monitor the portion of both plantain and banana that you consume, if you are worried about your blood sugar level due to the carbohydrates that affects blood sugar.
Both fruits are amazingly healthy but be sure to do some research on how best to prepare them to maximize their nutritional values.
Plantains and bananas can be easily mistaken for each other due to their physical similarities, but you you can quickly tell the difference from how they feel and taste. And even though the potential health and nutritional benefits are also similar, kitchen applications differ.
Have you tried of the fruits before? Which of them do you prefer? How do you prepare your plantain? Kindly share your thoughts with us in the comments.