Is unripe plantain good for a pregnant woman?

A pregnant woman and her husband cooking plantain in the kitchen

Key takeaways:

  • Unripe plantain is considered good and safe for pregnant people, as it contains some important nutrients like iron, thiamin and folates, which are beneficial for a healthy pregnancy.
  • Plantain is a common staple food in West Africa which can be prepared in different ways.
  • Benefits of unripe plantain during pregnancy include boosting immune system, providing energy and making for stronger bones.

If you are not familiar with plantains, you might mistake them for bananas. In fact, plantain belongs to the family Musaceae, the same as bananas.  

Plantain is a staple food crop commonly eaten in tropical areas. When unripe, plantain retains its original green colour. But, in a ripe form, plantain is yellowish and soft. Plantain tastes awful when unripe; thus is usually cooked before eating. 

Plantain contains more starch than bananas and also has lower sugar content. This is partly why both ripe and unripe plantain is good and healthy for pregnant women and people with health conditions like diabetes. 

Plantains are versatile foods as they can be prepared in different ways, especially in their unripe form. One common way of cooking unripe plantain is as unripe plantain porridge. Although plantains are fruits just like bananas, they are usually cooked and consumed like vegetables.

This article will highlight the nutritional constituents of unripe plantain and the health benefits of unripe plantain, particularly for pregnant women.

Plantain nutrition facts

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Plantain nutrition facts show that this staple food is highly nutritious. Plantains are rich in complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fibre.

A study of the nutrient composition of unripe plantain carried out in Nigeria showed that unripe plantain contains 59.4 g moisture, 1.5 g ash, 7.7 g crude protein, 1.4 g crude fibre, 80 mg sodium, 120 mg potassium, 24.4 g  carbohydrates, 275 mg magnesium, 66.6 mg calcium, 195 mg phosphorus, 3.7 mg zinc, 2.53 mg iron, and yielded 128.6 kcal of energy/100 g sample.

The nutritional content of your plantain meal will vary depending on your cooking style. While plantain is highly nutritious, it is lacking in protein and fat. 

This makes plantain an unbalanced meal when eaten alone. Thus, to get the most out of plantain, it should be combined with other foods that contain enough fat and protein.

Is unripe plantain safe for a pregnant woman?

Yes, unripe plantain is good for pregnant women because it contains substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B6, iron, magnesium and phosphorus which are all needed during pregnancy.

Unripe plantain is also considered safe for a pregnant woman as it doesn't cause harm to the expectant mother or the unborn baby.

Pregnancy can leave you craving for different things as your hormones go high and low. If you are craving unripe plantain, go ahead and eat it.

The nutrition content of unripe plantain makes it a food of choice for expectant mothers. Its health benefits can help both pregnant women and their babies. 

Benefits of unripe plantain in pregnancy

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Unripe plantain can help you have a healthy pregnancy as it provides energy, vitamins, minerals and even iron which are all needed during pregnancy. Benefits of unripe plantain to pregnant women include:

1. Provides energy

Unripe plantain is an excellent source of carbohydrates. When broken down during metabolism, carbohydrate is converted to glucose. The body needs glucose to generate energy in the form of ATP. 

Therefore, one benefit of unripe plantain during pregnancy is that it can provide you with the energy needed.  

2. Boosts immune system

Aside from its mineral content, unripe plantain also contains vitamin A and vitamin C, which boosts the immune system, providing immunity against free radicals and harmful infections during pregnancy. 

Another vitamin contained in plantain is the B-complex vitamins (particularly vitamin B6). Vitamin B may help treat or prevent conditions like low homocysteine and neuritis. 

3. Stronger bones

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As shown in the plantain nutrition facts, plantain is rich in vital minerals like phosphorus, magnesium and calcium. These minerals are important for bone health. 

Thus, consuming unripe plantain during pregnancy can help a pregnant woman develop strong bones. It also helps the growth and development of the fetus. 

4. Treats anaemia

Eating unripe plantain might help prevent anaemia in pregnant women. Anaemia is a condition characterised by low red blood cells in the blood. Red blood cells are the cells that carry oxygen to all parts of the body. 

Vitamin B6 contained in plantains plays a role in the production of haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is the main protein in red blood cells that enables the red blood cells to carry oxygen to all body tissues.

All pregnant women need sufficient blood which is why plantain is good for them. Plantain also contains iron. 100g of plantain products can contribute about 23% of iron. Iron also plays a role in the production of haemoglobin and is, in fact, an essential element for blood production. 

5. Treats gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes occurs when hormones produced by the placenta prevent insulin's effective utilisation. Insulin is the hormone that enables glucose to enter the body's cells, where they will be converted to energy. 

When insulin is not working effectively, glucose re-uptake into the cells will be hindered; therefore causing glucose to build up in the blood. A high level of glucose in the blood causes diabetes. When this type of diabetes occurs during pregnancy, it is known as gestational diabetes. 

A special diet like unripe plantain can help treat gestational diabetes. In countries like Nigeria, plantain serves as a natural way of managing diabetes. 

6. Weight control

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One health benefit of unripe plantain during pregnancy is weight control. Since plantain is rich in fibre, it can help you stay fuller after eating.

If you have cravings and find yourself eating junk during pregnancy, try eating foods like plantain and green vegetables that are rich in fibre. These vegetables can help you stay fuller, reducing the urge to feed on junk and, in turn, preventing too much weight gain. 

7. Promotes gut health

Another benefit of unripe plantain to pregnant women is that it can promote gut health. The fibre in unripe plantain helps soften stool, promoting bowel regularity and preventing constipation. 

Eating a high-fibre diet like plantain may also reduce the risk of haemorrhoids. Haemorrhoids are the presence of swollen veins around the lower rectum and anus. They are caused by too much pressure on the veins around the anus, usually due to straining during a bowel movement.

The points listed in this article show that unripe plantain is good and healthy for pregnant women. In fact, whether consumed ripe or unripe, plantain can benefit the overall health of pregnant people.

Find out what this well-researched article says about drinking zobo during pregnancy.