Plantains are related to bananas, which are definitely Paleo, so plantains can also be included as part of a healthy Paleo diet. Plantains have a few advantages over bananas, though. They still contain a fairly high amount of carbohydrates, but most of those carbohydrates consist of resistant starch, as opposed to sugar.
The Benefits of Resistant Starch
Resistant starch is very important in maintaining a healthy gut biome because it feeds the beneficial bacteria in our gut. The fiber that comes included in plantains also slows down the metabolization of sugar and prevents a spike in blood sugar.
Most of us living a Paleo lifestyle tend to avoid spikes in blood sugar because a spike leads to a crash and leaves us feeling tired. It can also lead to insulin resistance because high blood sugar requires high insulin levels to metabolize all of the sugar. Insulin resistance has been linked to numerous chronic health conditions, including diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease.
Unripe vs. Ripe Bananas
Plantains (and bananas) are especially beneficial when green. That is when they are highest in resistant starch and lowest in sugar. As they mature and soften, much of the starch gets converted into sugar. Because unripe plantains are so hard and bitter, they are usually cooked, rather than consumed raw, but cooking kills some of the resistant starch, so be sure to gently cook your plantains.
Like bananas, plantains are also a good source of potassium and magnesium, as well as vitamin C and various B vitamins.
Mark Sisson approved the consumption of plantains in the form of banana flour in this blog post.