Plantain is a highly nutritious staple of the traditional African diet, with benefits for weight loss, the immune system and the brain. Here’s 5 quick and healthy afro-fusion plantain recipes to get you started.

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plantain for weight loss.

It’s a secret that Africans have known for ages. One of the secrets of the traditional African diet. Plantains are good for you. Plantains are delicious, thanks to its natural starches which convert into sugar as the plantain ripens. The riper the plantain, the sweeter it becomes. Plantains are a staple of the traditional African diet, and enjoyed in abundance across the African continent by both children and adults alike. It is little wonder therefore, that across the continent, different methods of preparing and enjoying plantains abound.

 

Plantain? Banana? Same thing right? Wrong!

 

The Plantain (Musa paradisiaca) is a plant of the banana (Musaceae) family which makes it closely related to the banana. Like bananas, it too flourishes well in tropical moisture-rich, humid, low-lying farmlands. The botanical classification of plantains and bananas is so complicated that plantain is viewed as a subspecies of the banana, and the banana as a subspecies of the plantain. However, the plantain is typically larger than the common banana. Once ripe, plantains too, like bananas, are very fragile and show signs of decay in a short time span.

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In West Africa, bananas and plantains are planted at the onset of the rainy season. This usually coincides with the planting period of several other staple crops like rice, cassava, and maize. Although plantains grow all year round, the major harvest comes between the months of November and February when most other starchy crop staples are unavailable or difficult to harvest. This allows plantain to play a key role in the provision of food security during the food-scarce months of the dry season.

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The plant is believed to have originated in Southeast Asia, although globally today, seven of the top ten plantain producing countries are in Sub-Saharan Africa. This includes the West African countries of Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Côte d’Ivoire. Plantains start out with a green skin, and as they ripen, the colour of the skin changes to yellow, and then black. The edible fruit of the plantain has more starch than the banana and is typically not eaten raw. Green plantains are full of starch and should be cooked. Plantain may also be dried for later use in cooking or ground for use as a meal. The plantain meal can also be further refined to a flour.

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Beside the natural sweetness and flavour of plantains, there are so much more reasons to eat this nutrient-packed carbohydrate:

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Plantain can help with weight loss

When it comes to losing weight, it is about burning more calories than the calories that one consumes. One simple piece of weight loss advice is just to eat more fibre. Research shows that people who eat more fibre can lose as much weight as people on a low-fat diet.

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100g of plantain provides roughly 8 percent of the recommended daily intake of fibre. Fibre has no fat-burning properties. However, it helps with weight loss because high-fibre foods tend to have a lower energy density, which means they provide fewer calories per gram of food. In addition, as a high-fibre food, plantains add bulk to food intake, which makes you feel full and also aids digestion. The feeling of fullness helps with weight and portion control. As a result, a person on a high-fibre diet can consume the same amount of food, but with fewer calories.

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Plantain is Good for Your Immune System.

Vitamin C is found to play a key role in boosting the immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells, and by making the cells of the body impenetrable to viruses. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant, which helps the immune system to neutralise free radicals that may otherwise cause damage at cellular level cellular damage.

 

Unlike most animals that produce their own vitamin C, the human body does not produce any, or store any Vitamin C. The key to getting adequate vitamin C lies in proper nutrition and/or the use of nutritional supplements. Plantains are an excellent source of Vitamin C with 100g of plantain containing 30 percent of the recommended daily requirement of Vitamin C. Fight that cold before it starts with some plantain.

 

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Plantain is Good for Your Mood and Brain.

Plantains contain a healthy dose of Vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 plays a variety of roles in the body including activating enzymes, stimulating metabolism, promoting immune function, helping with haemoglobin formation and contributing to cognitive development and function.

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Our moods are dependent on many factors, including the levels of a variety of dietary nutrients. Vitamin B6 is needed to produce numerous brain chemicals including serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA. These brain chemicals are all related to mood and behaviour and an imbalance of any of these chemicals typically results in altered mood. For example, abnormally low levels of serotonin are linked to depression and anxiety disorders, whereas a lack of dopamine is associated with Parkinson’s disease. So want to feel good? Eat some plantain! 

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Plantain Can Be Beneficial Against Diabetes

Plantain are a good source of magnesium. 100g of plantain contains approximately 16 percent of the bodys daily requirement of magnesium. Magnesium is an important mineral because it affects several hundreds of bio-chemical reactions taking place in the body. One of these critical functions is ensuring that our blood sugar remains within the right range. Research has established that there is a connection between having adequate magnesium and diabetes prevention.

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Insulin helps regulate the transport of magnesium within the body for use in glucose metabolism. And as part of the metabolism of glucose, magnesium promotes many of the processes involved with the breaking down of glucose in the body. Magnesium deficiency causes the body to require more insulin than normal to metabolize glucose, leading to insulin resistance.

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While plantains are a good source of magnesium, they do have a high carbohydrate content and glycemic load. As such, they can raise blood sugar. Therefore diabetics should take care to pair plantain with other foods with a low glycemic index and glycemic load.

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Plantain Helps To Maintain a Healthy Digestive Tract.

Plantains contain a high amount of dietary fibre which helps ensure healthy bowels and reduces constipation.  The digestive system is lined with muscles that propel the food along the digestive tract from the throat through the bowels until the eventual waste is passed out of the body. Soluble fibre acts like a sponge, and soaks up water as the faeces passes through the intestines. This helps to bulk up and soften the faeces, allowing it to pass through the gut more easily. It also slows down the rate of digestion of food by the body. So eat some plantain to stock up on that dietary fibre!

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Plantain Recipes Across Africa

There are many different ways in which plantain is prepared across Africa. Kelewele is a prolific street food in Ghana in which cubes of ripe plantain are spiced and fried. Bolé is another street food derived from plantain, and enjoyed in Nigeria. While Congo has got Makemba, a dish where plantains are peeled, and boiled. Because plantain is so versatile, you can enjoy it for breakfast, lunch, dinner or as a snack or a side dish.

 

Afro-fusion Plantain Recipes To Try

For a simple breakfast idea, this plantain pancake springs to mind.

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For a breakfast that is healthy but more sumptuous, this plantain and egg frittata might just be the answer

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As a snack, Kelewele to the rescue.

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For a side dish, look no further than this simple and quick plantain mash recipe….

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Looking for an exotic twist on an hors d’oeuvre and I can recommend one of my favourites – Sweet Plantain and Fish Bites. In this recipe, sweet plantains are filled with herbed and spicy grilled fish and fried to golden perfection.

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How do you cook your plantain?

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Laters.. xo

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Emem

Afro-fusion Food Lover.
Sustainable Food Advocate.
Completely nuts about Avocado.