Do Plantains Have Sugar?

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Plantains are a staple food in many tropical regions, valued for their starchy and slightly sweet flavor. But do plantains actually contain sugar?

The short answer is yes, plantains do contain natural sugars. However, they are far less sweet than regular bananas. The sugar content in plantains can vary depending on the ripeness and how they are prepared.

Understanding the Sugar Content in Plantains

To understand if plantains have sugar, it is important to first look at their nutritional composition.

Plantains are a good source of carbohydrates. A 100 gram serving contains about 22-31 grams of carbohydrates, depending on ripeness 1.

These carbohydrates are present mainly as starch and some natural sugars.

As plantains ripen, the starch converts into sugars through a process called starch hydrolysis 2. This makes ripe plantains slightly sweet.

However, plantains contain far less sugar compared to bananas.

For example, 100 grams of raw banana contains about 12-19 grams of natural sugars, while 100 grams of raw plantain contains only 2-3 grams 3.

So while plantains do have some natural sugar content, it is much lower than bananas.

How Ripeness Affects Sugar Content

The ripeness of plantains greatly affects their sugar content.

Unripe Green Plantains

Unripe green plantains are very starchy and have little sweetness.

At this stage, most of the carbohydrates are present as resistant starch and fiber. Green plantains contain only about 3 grams of sugar per cup when boiled 4.

So green plantains are not sweet and have a low glycemic index.

Ripe Yellow Plantains

As plantains ripen and turn yellow, more of their starch converts into natural sugars. This makes ripe yellow plantains slightly sweeter than unripe ones.

Yellow plantains may contain around 3-4 grams of sugar per cup when boiled 5.

So yellow plantains do have a bit more sugar than green ones. But they still contain far less sugar compared to ripe bananas.

Overripe Black Plantains

Overripe black plantains have the highest sugar content, as most of their starch converts to sugar.

Black plantains can have up to 5 grams of sugar per cup when boiled 6.

While the sugar content increases as plantains become very ripe, it is still low compared to other sugary fruits.

How Cooking Affects Sugar Content

Cooking plantains can also affect their sugar content.

Boiled or Simmered

Boiling or simmering plantains has minimal effects on their natural sugar content.

As mentioned earlier, boiled green plantains contain about 3 grams of sugar per cup, while boiled yellow plantains have 3-4 grams.


Frying ripe plantains causes more of their starch to break down into sugar, increasing sweetness.

Fried yellow plantains may contain around 5 grams of sugar per cup 7.

So frying makes plantains slightly sweeter by converting more of their starches to sugars.


Baking also causes some additional conversion of starch into sugars.

Baked ripe plantains may contain up to 6 grams of sugar per cup 8.

So baking makes plantains a bit sweeter than boiling. But the sugar content is still low compared to baked bananas or other fruits.

Plantains for Diabetes and Low-Sugar Diets

For people with diabetes or those following low-sugar diets, plantains can be a great staple food option.

Here are some key points about plantains for sugar-controlled diets:

  • Green unripe plantains are the best option as they have negligible sugars.
  • Ripe yellow plantains can be eaten in moderation by controlling portion sizes. Enjoy them along with proteins and healthy fats to prevent blood sugar spikes.
  • Avoid overripe black plantains and fried ripe plantains if sugar intake is a concern.
  • Eat plantains in place of other high-carb foods like rice, pasta or potatoes. Their lower glycemic impact makes them a smarter choice.
  • Combining plantains with spices, herbs and vegetables can further moderate their glycemic response.

So with some care, plantains can be safely enjoyed even on diabetes-friendly and low-glycemic diets. Their relatively low sugar content and high fiber makes them a healthy carbohydrate source.

Nutritional Benefits of Plantains

Here is an overview of the key nutrients found in plantains:

  • Fiber: Plantains contain 3 grams of fiber per cup when boiled or simmered. The fiber is present as pectin and resistant starch 9.
  • Potassium: They provide over 400mg potassium per cup, making them an excellent source of this mineral 10.
  • Magnesium & Phosphorus: Plantains contain around 25-30 mg magnesium and around 50 mg phosphorus per cup 11.
  • Vitamin C: Yellow plantains provide around 20% DV of vitamin C per cup 12.
  • Vitamin A: They also contain vitamin A in the form of carotenoids like alpha and beta carotene 13.

So plantains can promote gut health, reduce blood pressure, and boost immunity due to their unique combination of nutrients.

In Summary

Plantains do contain small amounts of natural sugar. But they are far less sweet than bananas or other sugary fruits.

Green plantains have negligible sugars, while ripe yellow plantains may have 3-4 grams of sugar per cup. Overripe plantains or fried ones have slightly more.

For people with diabetes or on low-sugar diets, enjoying plantains in moderation can be healthy due to their low glycemic impact, high fiber and abundant nutrients.

So the answer is yes – plantains do have sugars, but not enough to make them taste very sweet. Their mild sweetness and numerous nutritional benefits make plantains a valuable dietary staple.


  1. USDA FoodData Central
  2. ScienceDirect
  3. USDA Banana
  4. USDA Green Plantains
  5. USDA Yellow Plantains
  6. USDA Black Plantains
  7. USDA Fried Plantains
  8. USDA Baked Plantains
  9. USDA Fiber
  10. USDA Potassium
  11. USDA Magnesium/Phosphorus
  12. USDA Vitamin C
  13. Carotenoids in Plantains

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