At first glance, a plantain looks like the long-lost cousin of a banana, and if you confuse the two; well you won’t be the first, as plantains belong to the banana family and tend to be mistaken for them. They grow in temperate countries such as Uganda, Colombia, and Cameroon. There, people have a clear idea about plantains as it is an integral part of their diet.
So, how can you distinguish between bananas and plantains? Plantains are an actually starchier version of bananas and contain less sugar. Also, you cannot consume the fruit a la bananas, you need to cook it to consume it.
History of Plantain
What is a plantain? No, it isn’t a fruit, despite the similarities with the banana. It is, in fact, a weed or a herb, and there are over 200 species of this herb. Plantain benefits range from skin care to health care. It has been used for skin issues for treating sunburns and eczema, since years together. Why is it so great for your skin? Chiefly because it has rich antibacterial and antiseptic properties.
You can trace back its existence to as long back as the 1500s. People used it to treat health issues such as flu and fever. Plantains are replete with nutrients which have curative properties tailormade for the human body such as tannins, mucilage, and aucubin [an iridoid glycoside]. It is a natural expectorant and possesses anti-irritant properties too.
It is an ideal substitute for rice and potatoes and is used in abundance in developing countries. Plantain trees flourish in moisture-rich, tropical climates. You will find tree flowers growing in a bunch, which contains at least 5 to 10 fruits. The best part of plantains is that they are found all year round and hence are a great food source for developing countries.
Types of Plantains – Plantain Uses
Plantains are available at a grocery store near you, all year-round. They are available in different stages of ripeness. There are three different types of plantains and you can prepare them in more than one way.
- Green plantains: When the plantain is green in color, you’ll find it difficult to peel the pulp with a knife as it is hard. These aren’t very sweet, but they are full of starch, almost like a potato. This is perfect for making plantain chips.
- Yellow plantains: The next stage is the yellow plantain, it is a sweeter version of the green one and you can consume it in a number of ways, such as grilled, fried, cooked or boiled.
- Black plantains: Don’t go by the color, black plantains are pretty delicious to eat. In its most matured form plantains are sweet and soft and can be baked into a dessert.
You can buy a green plantain and allow it to mature at home, but once it reaches the black stage, it starts decaying almost on the lines of a banana. There are many a step between buying the plantain and it finally making its way to your plate, ready to consume. Follow these steps to the T, to make it cooking-ready!
- Wash them
- Cut off the stem and the tip with a knife
- Cut them into ridges, lengthwise
- Peel them like a carrot and remove the strips
- Remove all extra peels.
- Now, chop it, dice it or use the whole fruit.
Plantains are versatile and you can cook them in numerous ways; bake it, boil it or braise it, you can even steam it and boil it to feed the infants and the elderly. You can convert it into a flour and use it as infant food. Prepare it into a delicious curry or ditch the potato and make plantain fries! A delicious way to consume this herb.
Plantain Herb Benefits – Great for Skin, Hair, And Health:
Plantains are a great source of carbs but they are low on fat, so they a very good dietary source for people who are watching what they eat. But there is much more to this herb than its taste. There are numerous plantain herb benefits.
Skin Benefits of Plantain:
We have already mentioned that plantain has been used for years together to treat various skin issues. It is a time-tested remedy to address numerous skin issues. A plantain nourishes your body from within and ensures you have an enviable glow to flaunt.
Natural Remedy for Sunburns:
Don’t use too many chemical-ridden creams that affect the hormonal balance of the body, paving your way to diseases. Instead, look for natural sources that have minimum side-effects. There are many plantain skin benefits, but the most impressive one is using it to treat sunburns.
Tap on to the plantain leaf benefits by extracting the juice of fresh plantain leaves and apply it to the affected area. You can laso just crush the leaves with cool water for the same benefit. It is the anti-inflammatory nature of the plantain plant that works here. It helps get rid of the burning sensation and the rashes, it also stops the itching.
Insect Bite Remedy
The leaf extract of plantain contains certain specific compounds that offer soothing relief to the itching, soreness, and inflammation you get after an insect bite. Plantain generates quick healing from insect bites.
Plantain leaf helps regenerate the skin, especially when it is combined with comfrey and cayenne. It induces skin regeneration. So, even if you get wounds or blemishes, you won’t get reminded of them through scars, a plantain takes care of that.
4. Provides Relief from Conditions Such as Acne And Rosacea:
If you have Inflammatory skin conditions on the lines of acne and rosacea, you can get relief by applying plantain on your skin. It eases inflammation and prevents the infection from spreading. This herb can also prevent scarring by promoting healing and enabling skin regeneration.
5. Aids in Quicker Healing Of Wounds:
Plantain owes its germicidal and antibacterial qualities to Allantoin (a compound found in plantain). So, when you apply this herb to the wounds, you kill the germs and stop them from proliferating. It helps in fast healing and promotes skin cell regeneration.
Embrace Blemish Free Skin:
You hate scars, tell me who doesn’t? Acne and pimples leave indelible marks on your skin and no matter how much spot-reducing creams you apply, they just refuse to lighten up. But hey! Don’t worry because you have plantain to the rescue. If you use plantain regularly as a supplement, you will make all your dreams of possessing blemish-free skin true!
Hair Benefits of Plantain:
Plantain is great for your skin, period. But that’s not all, it is great for your hair too! There are many plantain herb benefits for your hair as well. Find out here.
As a Hair Rinse:
The last rinse you use for your hair, give it an incredible bounce and shine. Well, you do not get this by merely shampooing off your hair. Add a few more ingredients to make this concoction even more potent. Make a juice out of this plant and add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, and a little water to dilute the mixture. You have got the perfect hair rinse. If you are not too fond of the pungent aroma of the vinegar, this herb will tone down the smell.
Helps In Getting Rid of:
Dandruff and a flaky scalp are irritating for everyone. Thankfully, you have a solution in plantain which has both antiseptic and antibacterial properties that help protect your scalp from dandruff-related infections.
Health Benefits of Plantain:
Plantain has immense health benefits and keeps your body fit and healthy, here’s how!
Nourishes Soft and Sensitive Skin of Babies
Blend plantain leaves extract with a little almond oil and beeswax. This potent mixture is just perfect to take care of your baby’s sensitive skin. It prevents diaper rash and soothes mosquito bites. Wrap an ice cube in a leaf and massage your baby’s tender skin with this. This will protect your baby’s skin from inflammations and nappy rashes, all the while making your skin soft and supple.
Cures Blood Poisoning:
Plantain offers an effective blood poisoning cure. You can either use it as a poultice or sip on it as a tea to reap its many benefits.
Treats Respiratory Tract Disorders:
There have been extensive studies which have proved that plantain leaf extracts have anti-inflammatory properties. This potent property of this herb helps protect inflamed respiratory tracts and also bronchial passages, especially when you are suffering from cold, bronchitis, and flu. The ideal dosage is 1 tsp. of the extract at least thrice a day. Sip on cupsful of plantain tea to soothe the inflamed mucous membranes, offering you great relief from cold and cough.
Has Natural Diuretic Properties:
Plantain offers great relief from inflammatory conditions, especially the ones that impact the eliminatory organs of the body; the urinary bladder and kidneys. Now, plantain is a natural diuretic and demulcent, so it helps your body to get rid of the excess toxins with frequent urination. It is helpful in the treatment of conditions such as edema. You can also control the bed-wetting habit of your baby with this effective herb.
Plantain has styptic properties and can put a stop to minor bleeding. You can treat minor bleeding by making a paste out of it and applying it on the bleeding area.
Helps Deal with Postpartum Problems:
This herb is really effective in helping women recover from postpartum issues. It is the styptic nature of the plant that helps control the bleeding. This herb is also helpful in getting rid of the placenta. It is effective in minimizing the cramps you suffer after delivery. This helps bring your uterus back in shape after childbirth.
Provides Relief from Tough Periods:
Plantain has antispasmodic properties too which are particularly useful in treating painful periods and providing relief from menstrual cramps. Plantain also minimizes heavy bleeding during periods.
Provides Relief to the Digestive System:
Is inflammation in your stomach creating tummy trouble? Brew a tea made of plantain leaves and drink up! You can also have the leaves with your salad. This wonderful herb is terrific in sorting out digestive issues such as curbing digestive fire and treating constipation issues. It also proves to be an effective cure for diarrhea, dyspepsia, gastric ulcers, bowel ulcers, and dysentery.
You can use plantain for weight loss as it has diuretic and detoxifying properties. It also suppresses the appetite and puts a tight lid on your hunger pangs. As little as 3 grams of this herb with 250 ml water 30 minutes prior each meal can work wonders. Have it three times a day and watch the pounds melt away.
It has Anti-Cancer Properties:
This herb is anti-inflammatory in nature and can protect against cancer. It slows down tumor-growth and prevents the disease from metastasizing.
Remedy For Tuberculosis And Syphilis:
Plantain is really useful in treating conditions such as tuberculosis and syphilis.
Protects Cardiovascular Health:
Plantain has potent properties that help lower triglyceride levels and keeps a tight rein on them. Besides keeping triglycerides in the normal range, it takes care of the other markers of your lipid profile such as LDL cholesterol and improves your HDL cholesterol. When you can control all these aspects, you will be able to prevent the onset of cardiovascular problems.
This is a fairly safe herb to use, but like all good things, do not go overboard on it. Take it in moderation to reap the maximum benefits. Have you ever used this versatile plant for your hair, skin or health? Was it beneficial? Let me know in the comments section below; and also let me know whether you use it in any other ways apart from the ones I have listed out for you. Is it an integral part of your diet? I would love to hear from you and your experiences with the plantain plant. Till then, stay fit stay healthy!