Plantains are a popular fruit that look and taste similar to bananas. However, unlike bananas, plantains are typically cooked before eating. Many people enjoy plantains as a starchy vegetable in savory dishes. But can you eat plantains on a low FODMAP diet?
What are Plantains?
Plantains are members of the banana family, but they have some distinct differences from the sweet bananas most people are familiar with. There are over 200 varieties of plantain grown throughout tropical regions of the world, with the two main types being French plantains and horn plantains.
Some key facts about plantains:
- Plantains are larger and starchier than bananas. Their taste is less sweet.
- The skin of plantains is thicker and greener compared to bananas.
- Plantains are typically cooked before eating, unlike bananas which are eaten raw. Popular cooking methods include baking, frying, boiling, or grilling.
- When raw, plantains tend to be firm with a neutral flavor. As they ripen, they become softer and sweeter.
- Plantains are rich in vitamins A, C, and B6. They also provide potassium, magnesium, and fiber.
- Major producers of plantains include Uganda, India, Colombia, Cameroon, and the Philippines.
So in summary, plantains look like bananas but have some key differences when it comes to taste, texture, and culinary uses. Now let’s look at their low FODMAP status.
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Are Plantains Low FODMAP?
The good news is that yes, plain plantains are considered low FODMAP.
Plantains are low in Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols (FODMAPs). FODMAPs refer to a group of short-chain carbohydrates that some people have difficulty digesting.
According to Monash University, a leading FODMAP research group, 1/2 cup of raw plantain contains only 0.1 grams of the FODMAP fructose. This is well below the low FODMAP cutoff of 0.2 grams of excess fructose per serving.
Furthermore, plantains contain very minimal amounts of the FODMAPs lactose, fructans, galactooligosaccharides (GOS), and polyols.
This makes plain, unseasoned plantains a great low FODMAP fruit option. Those following a low FODMAP diet due to IBS can feel good about incorporating plantains into their meal plans.
Tips for Enjoying Plantains Low FODMAP
Here are some tips for enjoying plantains on a low FODMAP diet:
- Stick to 1/2 cup serving sizes of raw plantain to stay within low FODMAP limits.
- Opt for plain preparations like baked, boiled, or grilled plantains. Avoid adding high FODMAP ingredients.
- Beware of seasoning blends, which may contain garlic or onion. Stick to FODMAP-friendly herbs and spices.
- If eating green unripe plantains, cook them thoroughly until soft. Underripe plantains are harder to digest.
- When buying plantain chips, check the ingredients list for potentially high FODMAP seasonings. Plain plantain chips are a great crunchy low FODMAP snack.
- Ripe plantains can be used as a substitute for bananas in smoothies, baking, or nice cream. The texture and flavor profile is similar when very ripe.
- Mix mashed plantains into gluten-free flour blends as a substitute for banana in low FODMAP muffins and breads.
Following these tips will help you integrate plantains into a low FODMAP diet. Always pay attention to serving sizes and added ingredients to keep plantains FODMAP-friendly.
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How Do Plantains Compare to Bananas in FODMAP Content?
Since plantains and bananas come from the same family, you may be wondering how they compare when it comes to their FODMAP content. Here is a quick overview:
- Bananas are lower in FODMAPs than plantains.
- 1/2 large banana contains only 0.1 grams excess fructose, compared to 0.2 grams in 1/2 cup plantain.
- Bananas can be eaten in larger portions on a low FODMAP diet. Up to 1 medium banana is considered one serving.
- For plantains, it’s best to stick to 1/2 cup serving sizes to stay low FODMAP.
- Green bananas are higher in resistant starch and other FODMAPs compared to yellow bananas. Green bananas should be limited on a strict low FODMAP diet.
- Green plantains are very high in resistant starch when unripe. Always cook green plantains thoroughly before eating on a low FODMAP diet.
So in summary, bananas contain slightly fewer FODMAPs than plantains. But both can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a low FODMAP fruit diet.
Other Low FODMAP Fruit Options
In addition to plantains and bananas, here are some other fruits that are low in FODMAPs:
Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are all low FODMAP in 1/2 cup servings.
Citrus Fruits: Oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit are low FODMAP. Limit grapefruit to 1/2 fruit per serving.
Grapes: 1/2 cup of grapes is low FODMAP.
Kiwi: Two small kiwis are low FODMAP.
Melons: Cantaloupe and honeydew melon are low FODMAP in 1/2 cup servings.
Pineapple: Up to 3/4 cup of fresh pineapple is low FODMAP.
Tangerines: Tangerines are low FODMAP. Stay under 2 medium tangerines per serving.
When buying canned fruit, choose options canned in juice rather than syrup. And avoid fruits like apples, pears, watermelon, and dried fruits, which are higher in FODMAPs.
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Are There High FODMAP Plantain Dishes?
While plain plantains are low FODMAP, some plantain dishes contain added ingredients that could make them unsuitable for a low FODMAP diet.
Some examples of plantain dishes that are likely high in FODMAPs include:
- Mofongo: This Puerto Rican dish features mashed plantains with garlic, pork cracklings, and broth. The garlic makes it high FODMAP.
- Fried Green Plantains: When fried in onion or garlic-infused oil, green plantains could absorb high amounts of FODMAPs.
- Sweet Plantain Pudding: This dish is often made with coconut milk, which contains the FODMAPs GOS and mannitol.
- Plantain Chips with Onion/Garlic Seasoning: Flavored plantain chips may contain onion, garlic, or chili powder, making them high FODMAP. Check seasoning ingredients.
So while plain plantains are low FODMAP, dishes containing onions, garlic, coconut milk, and other high FODMAP ingredients should be avoided on a strict low FODMAP diet. Always check the ingredients list when buying packaged plantain products or ordering plantain dishes at restaurants.
Should You Avoid Plantains on The Elimination Phase?
The FODMAP elimination diet involves removing all high and moderate FODMAP foods for 4-6 weeks. This helps identify problematic FODMAP triggers for IBS symptoms like gas, bloating, and abdominal pain.
Since plantains are low in FODMAPs, they do not need to be eliminated from the diet during the entire elimination phase. Plantains are a great low FODMAP fruit option to enjoy during the strict elimination phase.
However, some nutritionists recommend removing even low FODMAP fruit during the first 1-2 weeks of the elimination phase. This added restriction can help settle symptoms faster.
After 1-2 weeks, you can try adding back a 1/2 cup serving of plantains to see if they cause any issues for your digestive system. If plantains are well-tolerated during the elimination phase, you can feel good about including them long-term on your low FODMAP diet.
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Plantain Recipes Low FODMAP
Here are some delicious low FODMAP plantain recipes to enjoy:
1. Baked Plantain Chips
- 2 green plantains, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a bowl, toss plantain slices with olive oil and sea salt.
- Arrange slices in a single layer on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, flipping once halfway, until lightly browned and crispy.
- Let cool and serve. Store in an airtight container.
2. Roasted Plantains
Roasting brings out the natural sweetness in plantains.
- 2 ripe plantains, peeled and sliced diagonally
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- Pinch of sea salt
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Toss plantain slices with olive oil on a baking sheet.
- Sprinkle with cinnamon and sea salt.
- Roast for 15 minutes until browned, flipping once.
- Enjoy as a side dish or snack!
3. Tropical Plantain Smoothie
This low FODMAP smoothie features fresh plantains and pineapple.
- 1/2 medium plantain, peeled and sliced
- 3/4 cup pineapple chunks
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 cup ice
- 2 tbsp flaxseed
- Add all ingredients to a blender.
- Blend until smooth and creamy.
- Pour into a glass and enjoy!
The Bottom Line
Plain plantains are considered low FODMAP, making them a great fruit choice for those following a low FODMAP diet for IBS. The optimal serving size is 1/2 cup of raw plantain.
Ripe plantains can be used as substitutes for bananas in recipes and provide a source of potassium and other nutrients. Green plantains should always be cooked thoroughly.
Avoid plantains seasoned with high FODMAP ingredients like garlic and onion. And stick to low FODMAP preparation methods like baking, boiling, grilling, and roasting plain plantains.
Enjoy plantains in moderation as part of a delicious low FODMAP diet!