Bananas vs Plantains: What’s the Difference and Which is Better for You?

In the world of tropical fruits, bananas, and plantains are often confused for one another due to their similar appearance. However, while they may look alike, there are some key differences between these two fruits. If you’ve ever wondered what sets them apart and which one is better for you, you’ve come to the right place. Bananas, the popular yellow fruit, are eaten raw and are a good source of vitamins and minerals, including potassium and vitamin C. They are known for their sweet flavor and smooth texture, making them a favorite snack for many.

Plantains, on the other hand, are larger and have a starchy texture. They are used in cooking and are often enjoyed when they are green and unripe. Unlike bananas, plantains need to be cooked before eating to soften their texture and enhance their flavor. While both fruits have their own unique characteristics and nutritional benefits, the choice between bananas and plantains ultimately depends on your personal preferences and dietary needs. So, let’s delve deeper into the differences between bananas and plantains and uncover which one is the better choice for you.

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Bananas vs Plantains

Overview Of Bananas vs Plantains

Scientific NameMusa spp.Musa spp.
OriginSoutheast AsiaSoutheast Asia
Color (when ripe)Yellow or greenGreen or black
Taste (when ripe)Sweet and fruityStarchy and less sweet
Culinary Useeaten freshOften cooked before eating
Texture (when ripe)Soft and creamyFirm and starchy
Common DishesFresh fruit, smoothiesFried, boiled, or mashed
Cooking MethodsRarely cookedcooked
NutritionLower in starch, higher in sugar and vitaminsHigher in starch, lower in sugar and vitamins
Dietary UseSnacks, desserts, and bakingStarchy side dishes, main courses
Shelf Life (ripe)ShorterLonger
Ripening ProcessRipens quicklyTakes longer to ripen
Commercial VarietiesCavendish, Lady Finger, Gros Michel, etc.ABB and AAA groups, Horn, French, and others
Growing ConditionsTolerant of a wide range of climatesPrefer warm tropical climates

What is Bananas?

Bananas are a popular and widely consumed tropical fruit. They are botanically classified as berries and belong to the genus Musa in the family Musaceae. Bananas are known for their distinctive elongated shape and have yellow or green skin when ripe, depending on the variety. The inner flesh is creamy and sweet when the fruit is ripe.

What are Plantains?

Plantains are a type of starchy fruit that is closely related to bananas. They belong to the same botanical genus, Musa, and the same family, Musaceae, as bananas. However, unlike sweet bananas, plantains are consumed in their starchy, unripe, or semi-ripe state and are an important staple food in many tropical regions.

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Bananas vs plantains taste

Bananas are known for their sweet and fruity flavor. Ripe bananas, with their yellow skin and speckled brown spots, are particularly sweet and have a pleasant, tropical sweetness. The flavor is often described as creamy and mildly tangy. Plantains have a very different taste compared to bananas. When unripe or semi-ripe, plantains are starchy and much less sweet. They have a neutral or slightly earthy taste. As plantains ripen, they may become slightly sweeter, but they do not reach the same level of sweetness as ripe bananas. Instead, even ripe plantains tend to maintain a starchy and firmer texture with only a hint of sweetness.

Bananas vs plantains nutrition

Bananas and plantains differ in their nutritional profiles primarily due to their varying stages of ripeness and intended culinary use. Here’s a comparison of the nutrition of bananas and plantains:

Bananas (per 100 grams, approximate values for a ripe banana):

  • Calories: Around 89 calories
  • Carbohydrates: Approximately 23 grams
  • Sugars: About 12 grams (mainly natural sugars like fructose)
  • Dietary Fiber: Approximately 2.6 grams
  • Vitamins: Good source of vitamin C and vitamin B6
  • Minerals: Contains potassium, manganese, and magnesium
  • Fat: Almost negligible
  • Protein: About 1.1 grams
  • Ripeness: eaten when ripe, which is when the skin is yellow and speckled with brown spots.

Plantains (per 100 grams, approximate values for a ripe plantain):

  • Calories: Around 122 calories
  • Carbohydrates: Approximately 31 grams
  • Sugars: About 14 grams (mainly natural sugars)
  • Dietary Fiber: Approximately 2.3 grams
  • Vitamins: Contains some vitamin C and vitamin A, but lower than bananas
  • Minerals: Good source of potassium, magnesium, and iron
  • Fat: Very low
  • Protein: About 1.3 grams
  • Ripeness: Plantains are often used in their starchy, unripe, or semi-ripe state for cooking. Ripe plantains may be slightly sweet but are not as sweet as bananas.

Key Differences:

  1. Calories: Plantains are higher in calories compared to bananas, primarily due to their higher carbohydrate content.
  2. Sugar Content: Ripe bananas are sweeter than ripe plantains, as they have higher sugar content.
  3. Dietary Fiber: Both fruits contain dietary fiber, but bananas have slightly more fiber per 100 grams. Fiber is essential for digestive health.
  4. Vitamins: Bananas tend to be richer in vitamin C and vitamin B6 compared to plantains.
  5. Minerals: Both fruits are good sources of potassium, but plantains may have a slightly higher potassium content.
  6. Ripeness and Culinary Use: Bananas are eaten fresh and sweet when ripe. Plantains are mostly cooked and used in savory dishes, especially when they are unripe or semi-ripe.

Also Read: Longan vs Lychee: Which Fruit Reigns Supreme?

Bananas vs plantains calories

The calorie content in bananas and plantains can vary depending on their size and ripeness. Here’s a general comparison of the calorie content of both fruits:

Bananas (per 100 grams, approximate values for a ripe banana):

  • Calories: Around 89 calories

Plantains (per 100 grams, approximate values for a ripe plantain):

  • Calories: Around 122 calories

As you can see, ripe plantains tend to have a higher calorie content compared to ripe bananas. This difference in calories is primarily due to the higher carbohydrate content in plantains. Plantains are starchier and less sweet than bananas, which results in a higher calorie count. However, it’s important to note that the calorie content can vary slightly based on factors like the size and ripeness of the fruit.

can you substitute plantains for bananas in banana bread

Yes, I can substitute plantains for bananas in banana bread, but there are some important considerations to keep in mind due to the differences in taste and texture between the two fruits.

Ripeness: When using plantains in place of bananas, it’s crucial to use ripe plantains. Ripe plantains are softer and slightly sweet, which is more similar to the texture and flavor of ripe bananas.

Mashing: Just like you would with ripe bananas, mash the ripe plantains thoroughly before adding them to your banana bread batter. This will help ensure they blend well with the other ingredients and contribute to the desired moistness of the bread.

Sugar: Depending on the sweetness of your ripe plantains, you may need to adjust the amount of sugar in your banana bread recipe. Plantains are less sweet than ripe bananas, so you might want to increase the sugar slightly if you prefer a sweeter bread.

Texture: Keep in mind that plantains have a somewhat firmer and starchier texture compared to ripe bananas. This can affect the overall texture of your banana bread. Some people prefer the denser texture that plantains can provide, while others may find it slightly different from traditional banana bread.

Flavor: While ripe plantains do have a mild sweetness, they also have a slightly different flavor profile compared to bananas. It’s subtle, but you may notice a slightly earthy or nutty undertone. This can add a unique twist to your banana bread.

Ripening and Storage

Another notable difference between bananas and plantains is their ripening and storage process. Bananas ripen relatively quickly and should be stored at room temperature until they reach the desired ripeness. Once ripe, they can be kept in the refrigerator to slow down the ripening process.

Plantains, however, need to be cooked when they are fully ripe. Green plantains are starchy and require cooking to be palatable, while yellow or black plantains have reached their sweetness and are ideal for cooking. Unlike bananas, plantains do not continue to ripen after being harvested.

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Final Comment

In conclusion, while bananas and plantains may look similar on the outside, they have distinct differences in taste, texture, culinary uses, and nutritional profiles. Bananas are sweet and can be enjoyed raw or used in various recipes, while plantains have a starchy taste and are cooked before consumption. Understanding these differences can help you choose the right fruit for your culinary needs and preferences. So whether you’re craving a sweet banana or a savoury plantain dish, both fruits have their own unique qualities to offer.


This Mitu and very fond of making new food recipe and trying something analytical comparison between foods.

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