SERVING SIZE: 1/2 c
SPECIES: Musa paradisiaca
How Can This Ayurvedic Food Make You Feel Great?
Plantains are starchier and have a lower sugar content than dessert bananas. This means that, while they are technically a fruit, they tend to be treated more like a vegetable. Like potatoes but lighter, plantains are a satisfying, gluten free option. Blended, they make a great pancake. Under ripe, they are more starchy and green in colour, overripe they are more sweet and tend to turn yellow and black.
Plantains are an exciting carbohydrate option for gluten free clients, helping celiac individuals diversify beyond potatoes. They are a source of complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, while being easy to digest. Notably, they are fibre-rich and contain Vitamin C, magnesium and potassium.
Plantains are thought to have originated in Southeast Asia. You'll find them easily in India, Africa, Egypt, Indonesia, Pacific Islands and tropical America. Plantains are a food staple in much of the tropical world. In fact, plantains make up about 85% of all banana cultivation worldwide! In Latin America, they are frequently plated alongside black beans, and garnished with red pepper flakes and cilantro. Or, smashed into tostones (Cuba), pureed as in mute (Columbia). In India, plantains are fried into a savory donut (Gulgulas).
Footnote: The information for this article was in part gathered from a 2021 study and survey of 26 students of Ayurveda who experimented with plantain. During the study, students ate plantain for 3 days and journaled the pharmacological effects. This study was sponsored by the Joyful Belly School of Ayurveda, and specifically the Mastering Ayurvedic Digestion & Nutrition certification course.
Cooling Anti-Inflammatory for the SkinPlantain's strong astringency constricts peripheral capillaries in the skin, reducing blood flood in the skin. This has a cooling and drying effect. Plantains reduce sweat. One student writes, "My skin felt colder. I got a chill within just a few mins of eating green plantains." Another reports, "I kept a heater near me."
The constriction of blood vessels reduces heat conditions and inflammation in the skin. It reduces skin redness, swelling, hives, and weeping rashes.
The vasoconstriction can actually make the skin pale. One student wrote, "My tongue is usually full of life - a dark pink. Later I was terrified as I saw my tongue turn white & pale as a ghost. And it trembled inside my mouth! The life was also taken from my lips as those too went from red & moist to dry & pale."
The anti-inflammatory effect isn't limited to the skin. One student reports, "My GI tract has felt a bit inflamed recently, and the plantain might have counteracted that a little bit."
These astringent cooling effects are ideal for Pitta, while aggravating Vata and Kapha. Generally, plantain is supportive to Pitta dosha because of their cooling, grounding nature. Pitta-dominant individuals usually have strong digestion which can benefit from something a little more difficult to digest, like plantains. Plantain made these cold Vata and Kapha students feel heavy and unmotivated, "I could actually say sad, tired and a feeling of 'why bother.' Plantain can be too drying and too difficult to process for the Vata digestion. Kapha-dominant individuals may find them to be too heavy for their system and, so, could benefit from some warm spicing if they're going to take this ingredient.
Grounding & ComfortingThe starches and fiber in plantain nourishes the slow release of energy, making plantain the ideal comfort food. As a complex carbohydrate, they are higher in fiber and digest more slowly than simple carbohydrates like processed baked goods. This means that the plantain will raise the glucose level in the blood across a longer period of time, rather than a big spike and a sharp drop. It is important to remember that some simple carbohydrates, like milk, are very nutrient-dense, so both can be present in a healthy dies. Plantain's cold, astringent & heavy nature satisfies the stomach for a long time.
One student writes, "I noticed a pleasant change in my pregnancy nausea while eating green plantains. I felt satiated longer than with more simple foods like rice, which helped to keep my nausea at bay for a little longer."
Another writes, "It was soothing to my stomach." Another states, "My emotions were comforted and stabilized by the sweet and starchy flavor. I felt slower, cool, calm, and collected."
For others, the heavy earthiness of plantain was too much, "This lack of taste made it feel dull. Like a thick potato, plantain was dense, solid and heavy in my mouth." Another states, "It was dulling to my body in general."
Normalizes Heart Rate & Reduces CrampingThe potassium in plantain is useful to reduce cramping. The mineral is an electrolyte which works with sodium to keep the body's water levels balanced and the nerves firing correctly One student writes, "My uterine cramps have calmed down." Yogurt with banana is a great balance of potassium, calcium and magnesium to reduce cramping - but this is considered a bad food combination in Ayurveda. Plantain could be served with chickpeas which are a good source of magnesium and calcium themselves.
Potassium also normalizes the heart rate and reduces blood pressure. One student writes, "My heart rate slowed as did my circulation."
Plantain & Weight LossBotanically, plantains are no different than sweet "dessert" bananas. But they are firmer and lower in sugar content than dessert bananas. Their cold astringency makes plantains a useful appetite suppressant for those trying to lose weight. In Nigeria, plantains are used for diabetes for its appetite suppressing qualities and low glycemic index. One student noted, "My digestion seemed slower I didn't feel like I needed to eat especially in the evenings around dinner." Another says, " I did not want to eat the whole portion because I felt full."
Effect on Digestion & EliminationThe fiber in plantains scrapes the bowels clean of mucus and other accumulations. However, these fibers (resistant starches) are hard to digest. Due to difficulty of digesting undercooked plantains, plantains increased burping, gas and bloating for some students. These students felt their digestion was bogged down and slow. Their stomach felt heavy and several students even felt nauseous. When cooked well, and following some of the preparations in the cooking section below, plantains are easier to digest. Some pungent or heating spices can also be used to aid digestion. You'll see this in cultures who use plantain often, such as spicy fried kelewele in West Africa. Cardamom would also be a great choice when cooking with plantain because of its strong aromatic qualities. This would support the digestion of those difficult fibres.
Plantains dry out the mouth. One student remarked, "Plantain's astringency immediately drew all my saliva inward. It made my mouth chalky and dry like sandpaper. My saliva was thicker after the experience." Another stated, " I had to drink water immediately to even get my first few bites down."
The dryness and astringency of plantain increases cracks on the tongue. To counter the dryness of plantain, it could be helpful to take it as part of an electrolyte-rich soup/stew like this one, particularly through the colder months. Or, to add a sour limes or tamarind sauce. The astringency also makes the tongue more pale. Plantain's starchiness thickens the tongue coating and makes it whiter.
Under ripe plantains are highly astringent. They firm up stools, which is useful in loose stools and diarrhea. One student remarked, "My feces were drier and I even skipped a day." Students reported stools were generally harder in consistency.
BUYING & PREPARATION
COOKING GREEN PLANTAINBrowse Recipes
For less oil, use an air fryer. Alternatively, steam or boil plantain up to an hour to soften them, depending on how they are cut.
Plantains are often served with tangy sauces and spices to help their digestibility and flavor. Examples include chutneys with sour taste, a dollop of sour cream, or an avocado dip. Oil, salt, spices, and tangy sauces moisturize and counteract plantain's astringency. One student remarked, "No matter how much ghee I used it always seemed to be absorbed by the plantain." Garnish the plantain with cilantro, red pepper flakes, chopped red onion, and lime juice. Serve over a bed of arugula. Plantains are frequently plated with shrimp, or alongside pork in Cuba.
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WHY EAT AN AYURVEDIC DIET?Eating Ayurvedically makes you feel nourished and energized. An Ayurvedic diet is tailored to your individual body type and the specific imbalances you are working with at any given time. Ayurveda shows you your specific body type’s needs and what should be favored in your Ayurvedic menu. Watch as you eat less but feel more satisfied because what you are eating truly nourishes you. Since Ayurveda believes all disease begins in the digestive tract, food is your first medicine. By eating a healthy diet that’s ideal for your body, you experience optimal health.
Is Green Plantain Good for My Ayurvedic Diet?
AYURVEDIC MEDICINAL BIOCHARACTERISTICSWhat is the biocharacteristic theory of medicine?
Experiences are PersonalExperiences vary according to the person and constitution. Individual results may vary. The list of actions below has not be approved by the FDA and should not be used to treat a medical condition.
APPETITE-SUPPRESSANTSuppresses hunger without causing weight gain
Energy Vitality Strength:
Heart & Circulation:
CALMS-HEARTAn herb that literally calms the heart. These herbs are helpful in the treatment of anxiety, sadness, depression, or other emotional imbalances in the heart. Related to the Chinese Herbal Category 'calms spirit.'
DESSICANTherbs that dry surfaces by absorbing moisture
HYPOTENSIVEAn herb that lowers blood pressure.
STYPTICA herb that contracts tissue or blood vessels. Generally styptics are astringent. They are often used to stop bleeding.
Mind, Stress & Sleep:
GROUNDINGEncourages feelings of stability and heaviness. Makes you feel settled, mentally relaxed. Mildly sedates the nervous system to ease stress. Can bring a spacey or anxious person back to earth.
Skin Care & Beauty:
REDUCES-SWEATINGSuppresses sweating, often by cooling the metabolism, reducing blood flow to the skin, or closing pores.
Lowers Blood Sugar
LOWERS-BLOOD-SUGARAn herb that lowers blood sugar.
CONSTIPATIVEAn herb that binds stools / stops diarrhea. When used in excess, these herbs and foods can cause constipation.
HEALTH & WELLNESS PRACTITIONERS!
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Eat Well for Life With Ayurveda: Balance Your Dosha
HOW DOES EATING AYURVEDICALLY MAKE YOU FEEL?Eating Ayurvedically makes you feel nourished and energized. Food digests with ease when right for your body type (dosha). Healthy digestion is seen as the cornerstone of well-being in Ayurveda. Healthy digestion generally prevents illness. If you do get sick, a strong digestive fire reduces the severity of illness and increases your resilience. It also improves your mood. Once you begin eating Ayurvedically, you will feel refreshed, vital and strong.
View Other Ingredients for SpringGreen Plantain is recommended for Spring. Check out these other Spring foods here.
Comments & Impressions of 'Green Plantain'Do you like 'green plantain'? Why or why not? What makes it unique? Is there something you'd like to know about 'green plantain'?
a traditional home remedy forThis information has not been validated by the FDA and should not be used to treat a medical condition.
Poop3+ bowel movements a day, Diarrhea, Diarrhea quickly after eating, Frothy Stool / with Bubbles, Mucus on stool, Soft Stool, Stool entirely liquid, no solid pieces, Stool in mushy pieces mixed with liquid, Stool thick mud
DigestionAnal Itching, Burning abdominal pain, Celiac Disease, Colic / spasm / cramping, Crohn's Disease, Food allergy, Gastritis, Hyperacidity, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Morning Sickness, Strong abdominal pulse, Strong food cravings, Strong hunger, Ulcerative Colitis, Vomiting Blood
Mind Stress SleepAnger, irritable, ambitious, analytical, Epilepsy
Blood and CirculationBright red lips, face or palms, Diabetes (Adult Onset), Excess saliva, Eye twitching, Flushes Easily, General Inflammation, Heart Palpitations, High Blood Pressure, High Blood Sugar, Sweat often
SkinBruise easily, Easily hot, Hives, Puffy / swollen skin, Rashes, Red/flushed skin, Warm & rosy skin
Weight LossFeel overweight
BonesFoot cramps, Muscle cramps
About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.