Plantains, also known as raw green bananas or kacche kele, are a staple food in different parts of the world, especially tropical regions, Caribbean islands, Latin America, and parts of Africa. Plantains have nutrients like fiber, minerals, starch, etc. There are two types of plantains: ripe and unripe. In its unripe state, it is green, while the raw ones are soft and yellow.
One can confuse them with bananas, as they belong to the same family. Plantains are often referred to as the banana’s cousin because they are starchier and have brown or black spots on them. These, however, have to be cooked well, as raw food does not taste very good. They are not sweet like bananas and have hard skin. Plantains during pregnancy are a wholesome food, but it is important to understand their benefits as well as any possible side-effects.
Plantains are a healthy staple food because they have a lot of grain, fiber, minerals, and other important things. You and your unborn child are safe if you consume them. You’ll get everything you need to have a healthy pregnancy. Nonetheless, excessive plantain consumption is not advised. Also, some plantain cultivars may be neurotoxic, so it’s important to be selective. Let us have a look at the different indicators related to its consumption during pregnancy.
What Is Plantain?
Plantains are a type of banana that is a staple food in many tropical areas. Plantains can be used in a variety of ways and have a distinctive flavor. These green counterparts of bananas have to be cooked well before they are consumed. They look similar to a banana but have thicker skin and are not as sweet. Even when they are ripe, they do not have a taste and have a similar taste to potatoes.
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Plantains are a great source of starch, are a powerhouse of nutrients, and offer several health benefits as well. If seen from a medicinal point of view, plantain leaves can have medicinal usage and are cool and sweet. It can be of interest to the pregnant woman as it is a natural remedy or one of the herbs that can help a pregnant woman.
The following are some striking characteristics of plantains1:
- Plantains have more starch in their edible fruit than regular bananas
- As the starch content of unripe plantains is highest, they are often used in savory dishes that call for boiling or frying
- Because they are starchier and contain less sugar, they retain their green color even when fully ripe
- Overripe ones may have begun to turn yellow or even black by the time you get your hands on them.
- When the plantain was dried in the sun, boiled, and roasted its lipid, ash, carbohydrate, sodium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus content and overall healthiness went up by a lot2
- Ripe fruits are mildly sweet and are frequently cooked with coconut juice or sugar to add flavor
- Plantains may also be dried and stored for future useTheyIt can be pounded into a meal, and then refined into flour in the same manner as other grains
- Plantains are only a small part of a complete meal due to their low nutrient density in protein and fat3
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Nutritional Profile of Plantain
Plantains are all good sources of minerals, vitamins, and carbohydrates that are not only easy to digest but can be cooked in many different forms to reap the benefits of the nutrients they possess.
According to this Source:
Calories 215 Fat 0.22 g Carbohydrates 58 g Protein 2 g Potassium 663 mg Magnesium 57 mg Vitamin C 23 mg Vitamin A 63 ug Vitamin B-6 0.29 mg Fiber 3 g
Can A Pregnant Woman Eat Plantains During Pregnancy?
Yes, it is okay to eat plantains during pregnancy. It is taken as a staple food as well.
- Plantain is particularly good for digestion as it has a good amount of dietary fiber
- They even offer a good amount of folic acid, protein, minerals, energy, etc which is good for a healthy and smooth pregnancy
- A pregnant woman can have unripe plantains as they have a considerable amount of minerals like phosphorus, iron, and vitamin B6 that are important during pregnancy
- It is safe for a pregnant woman to consume unripe plantain as it is not harmful to the fetus or the expecting mother
- Unripe plantain during pregnancy is a good choice for an expecting mother due to its high nutritional value. It is highly beneficial for the baby as well as the mother
- Unripe plantains in late pregnancy is not advisable as they have latex that results in uterine contractions
- However, eating too much ripe plantains during pregnancy is not advisable as it can have adverse effects on pregnancy
- Also, some varieties of plantain have minerals that are not suitable to be consumed during pregnancy
- Plantain can be taken in different forms, like boiled plantains and plantain chips during pregnancy for a different taste
- The plantain stem, like the plantain itself, is nutritious and helpful during pregnancy. Plantain stems during pregnancy help control blood sugar levels and offer relief from constipation
- UTI is very common during pregnancy, and banana stem extract is an effective treatment for urinary tract infections (UTIs). The vitamin B6 and potassium in the plantain stem and the fact that it is a diuretic all help fight urinary tract infections4
- It is best to consult a doctor and know the required dosage of plantain that must be consumed during pregnancy
- Green plantain during pregnancy is good as it helps the baby to thrive due to its high nutrient value and carbohydrates.
What Are the Benefits of Consuming Plantains During Pregnancy?
Due to their high nutrient content, plantains are good for both the mother and the unborn child’s health. The following are just a few of the many advantages of eating plantains during pregnancy.
1. Offers good energy
Pregnancy is a time when the expectant mother does not feel very energetic, so she needs foods that can offer a great deal of energy.
- Because they are low in carbohydrates and have a relatively high energy density, they are appropriate for pregnant women to ward off tiredness5
- It is an ideal energy booster during pregnancy
- Unripe plantain during the process of metabolism converts carbohydrates into glucose
- This glucose is required by the body for the generation of energy especially during pregnancy when the energy levels are really low
2. It acts to boost the immunity levels
- As plantains are rich sources of Vitamin A and Vitamin C, it helps to fight against many types of infections
- Vitamin A helps prevent cell damage during pregnancy
- It also acts as a strong oxidant, which helps in neutralizing the free radicals as well
- Vitamin A helps the immune system grow and develop and controls both cellular immune responses and humoral immune processes6
- It is even good for the skin as it boosts the complexion
Related Reading: 11 Simple Ways To Boost Immunity During Pregnancy
3. It helps with constipation
- As plantains are rich in dietary fiber, it helps with proper bowel movements, thereby reducing constipation issues7
- Plantains during pregnancy are a good way to promote gut health
- The fiber content helps in softening the stools and even helps in reducing the chances of swollen veins around the anus and the lower part of the rectum. These are known as hemorrhoids
- Hemorrhoids are due to excess pressure exerted on the veins around the anus but having fiber-rich diets eliminates this and offers relief against all digestive issues.
4. It helps in the treatment of gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes affects a large percentage of pregnant women. This happens when the insulin does not work effectively and prevents the glucose intake of cells, building the glucose levels in the blood. This high level causes diabetes, and when this happens during pregnancy, it is called gestational diabetes.
- Having a diet like plantain is good for the treatment of gestational diabetes and in some parts of Africa, plantain is even used as a natural means to regulate diabetes8
- In addition to the plantain itself, consuming the plantain stem can aid in glucose regulation during pregnancy
- The plantain stem contains a unique juice that has therapeutic applications. Diabetics can benefit greatly from stem juice if they drink it unstrained9
5. It is good for the heart
A healthy pregnancy begins with a healthy heart. Because of the increased blood volume, the heart must pump harder.
- As plantains have a good amount of potassium in them, they help with the healthy functioning of the heart and even keep blood sugar in control
- It even fights against the negative effects of sodium intake
- Potassium is needed for the maintenance of the body fluids that regulate blood pressure and heart rate
- Plantains’ high vitamin C content makes them powerful natural antioxidants that protect the body from the ravages of free radicals and help keep heart diseases at bay10
- Plantains even help in lowering the cholesterol levels that help the heart function properly.
- Plantain is even rich in folates like thiamine, and niacin which is beneficial for the baby.
Related Reading: Coriander Leaves During Pregnancy – Are They Safe?
6. May help to reduce swelling
It is important to eat more naturally diuretic foods during pregnancy. Diuretics help lessen swelling during pregnancy. Edema, or swelling due to water retention, is one of the common issues among pregnant women.
- Plantain has diuretic properties11
- Plantain’s diuretic nature also may help in smoothing bladder issues and may even help in reducing the risk of any kidney issues as well
7. Anti-Inflammatory effect
There is a relationship between inflammation during pregnancy and unfavorable outcomes for both the mother and the baby12
- Plantain has anti-inflammatory benefits due to its high levels of antioxidants and vitamin C
- Plantains are effective in treating chronic irritating coughs due to their anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also helpful for dealing with infections in the nose and throat13
8. It helps to strengthen bones
The risk of developing osteoporosis later in life can be reduced by paying attention to bone health during pregnancy.
- A good quantity of minerals like iron, phosphorus, and magnesium are found in plantains. All these minerals contribute to strong bones14
- Having unripe plantain during pregnancy results in stronger bones and even helps with the healthy growth and development of the baby
- Raw plantains are excellent for bone development
9. Ensures healthy pregnancy
Pregnant women should prioritize a healthy diet above all else. Your unborn child will not have the proper nutrition to develop normally, if diet is not carefully attended to.
- Plantains have riboflavin, niacin, etc. that help with a healthy pregnancy
- Thiamine and riboflavin in plantain help with the healthy development of the baby and even prevent pregnancy threats15
10. It is high in antioxidants
Plant foods contain chemical compounds called antioxidants, which help prevent oxidative damage to our cells by counteracting the effects of free radicals. Therefore, eating foods rich in antioxidants has been associated with a lower risk of developing free radical-caused diseases like cancer and heart disease16.
Pregnancy produces more free radicals because cells work, grow, repair, and breathe faster. This is why pregnant women need a diet rich in antioxidants.
- Vitamin C is found in plantains that helps in protection against cancer, aging, etc.
- As per research, there has been found to be an inverse relationship between different varieties of cancer like colon, breast, stomach, etc. and the intake of Vitamin C17
- It is also seen that with high vitamin C concentrations, lower blood plasma was noticed18
Risks And Precautions of Eating Plantain During Pregnancy
Plantain has beneficial nutrients, but it’s still important to be aware of any potential risks before consuming it. Pregnant women who want to eat plantain should exercise some caution and follow a few helpful guidelines. Here is a list of them:
- Plantain must not be consumed in the first leg of pregnancy as it can result in miscarriage
- Unripe plantains must not be consumed in pregnancy as they have latex that results in contractions
- Consuming ripe plantain is not advisable in some parts of the world as it is a belief that it results in long hours of labor and lethargic babies
- Having plantain for many days is not recommended as it can lead to excess urination resulting in dysfunction of the kidney, leaving the woman exhausted
- If you’re pregnant, it’s best to stay away from nightshade plants like some types of plantains because they contain a neurotoxin. There are distinct stages of fetal brain development Internal and external factors, such as genes, sequentially regulate these processes. When any of these processes are interrupted, abnormal brain development and function occur
- Neurotoxin, which can come from both inside and outside the body, may have an effect on the developing nervous system of an unborn child19
Having a healthy diet while pregnant is of the utmost importance. It is important to practice caution and pick foods that are good for you, and plantain is most definitely one of those options. Plantains, which are good and nutrient-dense, are best eaten cooked to extract all their health benefits. They are very much essential for both mother and the growing fetus as majorly it contains fiber that will help relieving constipation during pregnancy, potassium that will help in maintaining fluid balance, vitamin B6 may help ease nausea during pregnancy, Iron will help in making more blood to supply oxygen to your baby, magnesium help maintaining fetal growth and development, and also it contains calcium that reduce risk of preeclampsia, help in improving maternal and fetal bone health.
Therefore, It is safe to consume plantain during pregnancy but remember moderation is the key. However, you should talk to your doctor before making any drastic diet changes during pregnancy.