Plantains and potatoes are very versatile and used in many of the same cooking methods. Due to their similarities many people want to know, which is better plantains or potatoes?
Plantains are better than potatoes for nutrients, making desserts and athletic performance. Plantains provide a higher percentage of vitamins and taste sweeter than potatoes. Plantains contain approximately 100% more carbohydrates beneficial for energy while having a lower glycemic index than potatoes.
This article will include a side-by-side comparison of their nutrients. In addition, I’ll examine their tastes, textures, costs, glycemic index and whether one can substitute for the other. We’ll also take a look at their health benefits.
Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Plantain and Potato Overview
Plantains have been a part of humanity’s diet for over 2,500 years since traders began transporting them around the seas. They’re exclusively grown in the tropics and the Caribbean where they are an important export for these developing countries.
People often substitute plantains for other starchy food like potatoes, yam and cornmeal.
Due to their shape, appearance and taste, plantains are often compared to bananas. Are plantains part of the banana family? Plantains are part of the same family of bananas. Plantains and bananas are from the genus known as Musa.
However, they cannot be consumed like a banana. Since they’re a lot starchier, they need to be cooked before eating. As plantains ripen, their starches are converted into natural sugars which give them their sweet taste.
What’s the difference between yellow and green plantains?
Yellow and green plantains are the same fruit but are at different stages of ripeness. Green plantains are unripe while yellow plantains are ripe. Yellow plantains taste sweeter than the blander, starchier green plantain.
Potatoes originated in the South America Andes over 8,000 years ago. For this reason they are often associated with America. Potatoes were bought to Europe by early explorers in the 1500s.
Except for Africa, potatoes are produced heavily and consumed all over the world. Potatoes are extremely popular and China alone produces approximately 101 million metric tones.
Many people wonder, are plantains in the potato family? Plantains and potatoes are in different families and genus. Potatoes are in the genus Solanum, and plantains are in the genus Musa.
Plantain vs Potato: Nutrients
The following table is a side-by-side comparison of the nutrients contained in plantains and potatoes:
|Potato Raw (100 g)||Yellow Plantain
Raw (100 g)
Raw (100 g)
|Protein||1.68 g||1.30 g||1.25 g|
|Carbohydrates||15.7 g||31.9 g||36.7 g|
|Fiber||2.4 g||1.7 g||2.2 g|
|Fat||0.10 g||0.35 g||0.07 g|
|Sugar||1.15 g||17.50 g||2.29 g|
|Vitamin A||8 IU||1,130 IU||1,130 IU|
|Beta-carotene||5 mcg||457 mcg||457 mcg|
|Vitamin C||9.1 mg||18.4 mg||20.2 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.20 mg||0.24 mg||0.07 mg|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||18 mcg||22 mcg||28 mcg|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||0.07 mg||0.06 mg||0.10 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.03 mg||0.07 mg||0.10 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||1.07 mg||0.67 mg||0.55 mg|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)||0.28 mg||0.30 mg||0.53 mg|
|Magnesium||21 mg||36 mg||41 mg|
|Phosphorous||62 mg||32 mg||31 mg|
|Potassium||407 mg||487 mg||431 mg|
|Iron||0.52 mg||0.55 mg||0.75 mg|
|Copper||0.11 mg||0.07 mg||0.11 mg|
|Calcium||9 mg||3 mg||2 mg|
|Zinc||0.29 mg||0.19 mg||0.18 mg|
Both plantains and potatoes contain the same types of nutrients. At first glance it’s difficult to determine which one contains a higher percentage than the other. In regards to total nutrients, are plantains healthier than potatoes?
Plantains are healthier in nutrients due to their higher percentage of vitamin A, vitamin C, beta carotene and B vitamins. Plantains have a lower glycemic index than potatoes even though they contain more carbohydrates. Plantains provide a higher percentage of magnesium, potassium and iron than potatoes.
On the other hand, potatoes are healthy too. Potatoes contain fewer calories, sugar and carbohydrates. Potatoes provide a higher percentage of fiber, thiamin, niacin, phosphorus, copper, calcium and zinc than plantains.
Choosing between the two may be difficult considering how healthy both of them are. A person’s particular goals may sway their decision, one way or the other. One of those goals may be weight loss.
Potatoes are better for weight loss than plantains due to their fewer calories, sugar and carbohydrates. Yellow plantains contain approximately 78% more calories than potatoes. Green plantains contain approximately 120% more calories.
If your goal is to gain weight, like when bulking up for building muscle, plantains are better than potatoes. The greater percentage of calories make it easier to increase calories more than how many are burned. This is necessary to gain weight and muscle.
The extra carbohydrates in plantains provide more energy for the body and athletic performance.
Therefore, if you’re on a low carb or Keto diet, potatoes are the better choice because they contain less carbs. Check out the Keto tip just below.
Keto Bread Tip: Great News! Did you know, you don’t have to give up your favorite bread, pizza or sandwiches to follow a 100% Keto diet. Find out more in the KetoBreads website by clicking here, Keto Breads.
Plantain vs Potato: Taste and Texture
People often choose one food over the other because of its taste. Since there are some similarities between the two, many people wonder and ask, does plantain taste like potato?
Green plantains taste starchy and bland similar to a potato. Yellow or black plantains taste sweeter due to their higher sugar content. Partially ripe plantains taste more like a sweet potato. Potatoes and plantains have a smooth, creamy texture depending on the cooking method.
We’re all familiar with the flavor and texture of potatoes. When potatoes are baked or fried, they get a golden, crispy crust with a pillowy inside. Potatoes get very soft when boiled, so people love turning them into silky smooth mashed potatoes.
The flavor of potatoes is nothing extreme. It’s somewhat earthy and slightly sweet from the naturally occurring sugars.
How would you describe the taste of plantain? Ripe plantains which are yellow or black taste slightly sweet and a little starchy. Unripe green plantains are unsweet and taste starchier like a potato.
Find out how cassava and potato taste and texture compared in my article, Cassava vs. Potato: Are They The Same? Let’s Compare.
Plantain and Potato Substitutions
There are times when you only have one available at home. Other times the supermarket doesn’t have what you need. In these situations you’ll wonder, can you replace potatoes with plantains?
Plantains can substitute for potatoes, especially the green ones. Green plantains have a similar taste and texture than potatoes. Both plantains and potatoes can be used using similar cooking methods like boiling, frying, roasting, baking, mashing or making chips.
The following can substitute for plantains:
- Sweet potato
- Potato for green plantains
- Slightly ripe bananas
- Yuca roots
The following can substitute for potatoes:
- Sweet potato
- Red potatoes
- Any type of white potato
- Green plantain
How To Cook Plantains
Use green plantains for the following cooking methods:
- Fried chips
Use yellow and black plantains for the following:
- Any recipe requiring sweetness.
Find out how turnips compared to potatoes in my article, Turnip vs. Potato: What’s The Difference? Let’s Compare.
Plantain and Potato Costs
With the rising prices of just about everything, the cost of food certainly matters to most. The price may sway your decision about which one to use. Therefore, which costs more, plantains or potatoes?
Plantains cost more than potatoes. The average price for potatoes is $0.99 per pound, and the average price for plantains is $1.68 per pound.
Depending on where you live, it may be easier to find potatoes than plantains. Potatoes and plantains are readily available and affordable to purchase in most supermarkets.
I conducted an extensive search for plantains and potatoes online.
I checked Safeway online and found the following plantain and potato prices:
- $1.99 per pound
- Idaho Gold potatoes
- $1.20 per pound
- Idaho Russet potatoes
- $0.60 per pound
I checked Shoprite supermarket for the prices of potatoes and plantains:
- $1.17 per pound
- $0.99 per pound
I also checked Walmart:
- $0.99 per pound
Lastly, I checked Freshdirect online:
- $1.98 per pound
- Russet potatoes
- $1.49 per pound
Check out Amazon for fresh plantains and plantain snack food like chips, plantains.
To find out what the difference is between taro and potato check out my article, Taro vs. Potato – A Complete Comparison.
How To Store Plantains and Potatoes
Whichever you choose or have on hand, proper storage is crucial. How you store fruits or vegetables can affect how long they last before going bad and how they taste. Therefore, how do you store potatoes?
Store potatoes in a dark, cool place away from heat and do not store them in the refrigerator. A humid basement or root cellar is the best area. They should be kept in a burlap bag or ventilated container and stored between 40°F and 60°F.
Storing potatoes in a refrigerator can make the center hard and change the cell structure. This can diminish the flavor. If you don’t have a cool basement, store them in a ventilated place, away from heat and light.
How do you store plantains?
Unripe or ripe plantains can be stored in a cool, dry place between 45-50°F. Plantains should be turned over every day. Finding a place somewhere out of the sun or away from a heat source is ideal. To extend the life of a ripe plantain, place it in the refrigerator up to five days.
Whole plantains can be frozen to extend their life. Wrap a whole plantain in plastic and place it into the freezer up to one year.
Plantains are sensitive to ethylene gas which ripens them faster. If you want them to last longer, keep them away from apples, bananas, avocado, kiwi, tomatoes and peppers 4.
If you’re looking to speed up the ripening process, store a plantain in a brown paper bag with one of the fruits listed above.
If you’re interested about how sweet potatoes held up against pumpkin for health and nutrition, check out my article, Pumpkin vs Sweet Potato: A Complete Comparison.
Plantains and Potatoes Glycemic Index
Knowing the glycemic index of food is important especially if blood sugar levels are a concern. Avoiding blood sugar spikes is an important part of consuming healthy food.
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a scale measuring how fast a particular food raises the blood sugar in the blood 5. Blood sugar spikes can lead to health complications with the heart, nerves, kidneys and eyes 6.
Foods on the GI scale are categorized as:
- Low-GI foods: 55 or under
- Medium-GI foods: 56-69
- High-GI foods: 70 or over
How blood sugars levels are affected:
- Foods with a glycemic index 70 or more cause a quicker spike in blood sugar levels.
- Foods with a glycemic index 56 to 69 cause a moderate spike in blood sugar levels.
- Foods with a glycemic index 55 or less cause a slow spike in blood sugar levels.
Now we know what the glycemic index is, and how it affects blood sugar, let’s answer, does plantains or potatoes have a higher GI?
The green plantain GI index of 45 and the yellow plantain GI of 54 is lower than potatoes. A boiled russet potato has a GI of 54, and a boiled Yukon Gold has a GI of 58.
Potatoes all have different GI scores. In addition to how a potato is cooked, the heat of the potato when eaten affects the GI.
A study published in the Journal of the Diabetic Association found boiled potatoes eaten cold had a GI score of 56. When eaten hot the boiled potato had a GI score of 89 7.
Find out if potatoes or rice have more nutrients in my article, Potato vs. Rice Nutrition: Which is Better?
Plantain and Potato Health Benefits
As noted in the nutrient section of this article earlier, the nutrients provided by plantains and potatoes are similar. For this reason some of the benefits are the same and the nutrients have many health benefits.
Let’s examine how each one of these nutrients benefit health.
For eye health, plantains are more beneficial than potatoes. Yellow plantains provide 1,130 IU of vitamin A and potatoes 8 IU. Plantains provide 457 mcg of beta carotene and potatoes 5 mcg per 100 grams.
There are two nutrients the body converts into vitamin A. Most notably, Beta Carotene, which is easily absorbed by the body. According to scientific studies, vitamin A helps the eyes when it comes to dim light vision and dry eyes 8.
Plantains provide 18.4 mg of vitamin C while potatoes provide 9.1 mg per 100 grams.
The body can’t make vitamin C, so it must come from the foods ate every day. Vitamin C has been shown in studies to help with the growth and repair of tissues throughout the body 9.
Vitamin C helps heal and repair wounds, maintain healthy bones, skin and cartilage. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and fights free radicals which damage the cells. Helping to prevent cell damage can help with the following:
- Certain diseases like cancer.
- Heart disease.
- Promote healthy aging.
Of the six B vitamins listed below, plantains provide a higher percentage of four of them.
The B vitamins provided include the following:
- B1 (thiamin)
- B2 (riboflavin)
- B3 (niacin)
- B9 (folate)
B vitamins help support the following:
- Red blood cells.
- Brain function.
- Nerve function.
- Cardiovascular disease.
- Energy levels.
A lack of B vitamins has been associated with oxidative stress and neural inflammation. In a study released in 2018 32 healthy adults were given B vitamin supplementation for six months. The results indicated preliminary evidence B vitamin supplementation reduced oxidative stress and inflammation 10.
Find out how potatoes compared to bread for health and nutrients in my article, Potatoes vs Bread: Which is Better? A Complete Comparison.
A plantain provides 1.7 grams of fiber and potatoes 2.4 grams per 100 gram serving.
They both contain soluble and insoluble fiber. Fiber remains in the digestive tract and provides gut related health benefits. Fiber rich diets have been linked to regular bowel movements and a lower risk of colon cancer 11.
Plantains provide 36 mg of magnesium and potatoes 21 mg per 100 grams.
Magnesium helps keep blood pressure levels stable and balanced. Recent scientific research examined previous studies and concluded magnesium supplementation decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure 12.
Magnesium helps control the following:
- Nerve function
- Blood pressure
- Blood sugar
One reason many people supplement with magnesium in the evening is because it helps calm the whole body including blood vessels.
In the heart and muscles, magnesium competes with calcium to help the muscles relax after contracting. When the body is low in magnesium, calcium can over stimulate the heart muscle’s cells causing a rapid or irregular heartbeat 13.
A plantain provides 3 grams of calcium and potatoes 9 mg per 100 grams.
Calcium is important for the heart and blood pressure. Harvard Health reports calcium helps maintain blood pressure by helping in the controlling of the relaxing and tightening of blood vessels 14.
Calcium also helps the following:
- Help the muscles to function properly.
- Build and maintain strong bones.
- Helps nerve function.
Plantains provide 487 mg of potassium and potatoes 407 mg per 100 grams raw.
Potassium helps the body get rid of excess sodium reducing fluid build-up. These help keep systolic and diastolic blood pressure lower 15.
According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between low potassium levels and high blood pressure 16. The more potassium, the more sodium your body will lose.
Consuming too much sodium or not enough potassium throws off the delicate balance the kidneys need to remove the excess water 17.
Read Next – More Potato vs Food Articles!
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- USDA: Plantains, green, raw
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