Are Plantain Chips Healthy? The Great Chips Debate

One fine day, you are binge munching on the chip, and suddenly a pang of guilt starts to take on – can you call them healthy?

We all love plantain chips, that delicious, salty snack we munch on while watching movies or playing video games. It’s hard to deny the deliciousness of plantain chips- with their signature salty-sweet taste. But are plantain chips healthy?

Plantain chips are healthy if you air fry them or bake them with brushing oil. Healthy oils like olive, coconut, or avocado enhance their flavor and boost nutrients. However, Packaged plantain chips are typically deep-fried in unhealthy fats with salts, so not recommended as a healthy option for you.

Let’s dive into the research to learn more about plantain chip consumption. 

Are Plantain Chips Healthy or Not?

Plantain or raw banana is considered a healthy vegetable option with loads of vitamins and minerals along with some carbs. This fibrous raw banana cannot be consumed raw like regular bananas, so you must convert them into edibles. 

One of the most widely consumed ways is in the form of chips. Yes, they are hard to beat when snacking with plantain chips on the go. Where plantains have many health benefits, are chips made from them healthy?    

are-plantain-chips-healthy

Well, it may or may not be, depending on what and how you consume it. 

Unhealthy Plantain Chips

Packaged or store-bought plantain chips are usually processed and are made from unhealthy refined oil. You never know whether the brand selling it is reusing the same oil to make the chips.

Also, they do not contain any beneficial nutritional value once deep fried in unfiltered, refined oil. They also contain harmful salts, like Ajinomoto, and spices to provide that irresistible taste. 

As a result, you will only be getting the ‘taste’ and lots of unhealthy fats from the plantain chips rather than nutrition.    

Snacking on packaged plantain chips once in a while is alright to enjoy the delicious sweet-salty crispness. But if you do it regularly, you might be in trouble soon.

Healthy Plantain Chips

However, if you are making the chips at home (I know it sounds overwhelming), you may cut down lots of unhealthiness from the chips. At least you know how the chips are made.      

We will discuss how you can now make your healthy plantain chips at home.

4 Healthy Ways of Making Plantain Chips

If you want to turn your plantains into delicious and healthy chips, read below to learn how to make plantain chips without restoring unhealthy fats and oils. You’ll be snacking on homemade chips in no time!

Surprisingly, making plantain chips at home is simple and easy. All you need to do is slice some fresh plantains and prepare salt and pepper (available at every household). You can choose one of any three ways mentioned below:

Deep Fried

Are deep-fried plantain chips always unhealthy? No, unless you make them with healthy oils at home. Use olive oil, avocado oil, or melted coconut oil to fry your sliced plantain until it turns golden brown. Sprinkle salt and pepper as desired after taking them out while they are still hot.  

fried-plantain

Baked

Nothing can beat the healthiness of baked goods. Place your sliced plantains on a baking sheet. Brush them with an oil of your choice, sprinkle salt and pepper, then bake at 400 degrees F until they become golden brown and crispy in about 10 minutes. 

Air-fryer

Like oven-baked, air-fried plantain chips are also healthy as they require less oil. The air frying method is almost the same as baking; you just need to figure out the timing to fry with a few trials and errors; it shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes.  

Other Healthy Ways of Consuming Plantain

Other than chips, what are some other ways of consuming plantains, that too in a healthy way? While plantain does not have a taste on its own, you may add it to your stews, curries, or soups with other vegetables. 

They can also be mashed like potatoes and consumed as a side dish. Mashed plantains are the most healthy version because here, you don’t require using oils.

As a result, you can benefit from the numerous vitamins and minerals in the vegetable.  Make sure you boil it before mashing because raw banana is very hard in texture. 

Nutritional Value of Plantain Chips

To help you figure out whether you should avoid plantain chips or not, I got a rough nutritional value of plantain chips. 

Deep Fried ( per 1 ounce/ 18-20 chips)

  • 18.1 grams of total carbs (includes dietary fibers, starch, and sugar)
  • 17.1 gram of net carbs (carbs that can digest into glucose)
  • 8.4 grams of saturated fat
  • 0.6-gram protein
  • More than or equal to 151 calories

Baked/ Air Fried (per 1 ounce/ 18-20 chips)

  • 20-gram total carbs
  • 19-gram net carbs
  • 6-gram saturated fat
  • 1 gram protein
  • Less or equal to 140 calories

However, the nutritional value may vary depending on what type of oil and how much is used in frying or baking the plantain chips. Nonetheless, baked ones are always healthier alternatives. 

Plantain Health Benefits

Let’s learn about some health benefits of plantain so that you become more cautious not to eat it as junk in the form of packaged food but as a healthy homemade snack.  

  • Plantain chips are a good source of dietary fiber, which can help you promote regularity and digestion.
  • They are low in fat and calories, making them a healthier alternative to other snacks like potato chips. 
  • Plantain contains high levels of resistant starch, an indigestible type of carbohydrate that boosts gut health by feeding the healthy bacteria in your gut.
  • These green bananas are also one of the best sources of potassium, which is essential for regulating blood pressure and maintaining a healthy nervous system. 
  • Furthermore, they contain folate and vitamin C, two antioxidants shown to protect against heart disease and certain cancers.

Health Risks of Consuming Plantain Chips

While plantain chips are often advertised as a healthier alternative to regular potato chips, they may not be as good for you as you think. 

As mentioned above, packaged plantain chips are often, in fact, primarily fried in unhealthy oils (sometimes hydrogen is mixed with vegetable oil). The deep frying already kills the nutritional values of the vegetable, leaving fats, high sodium, and calories behind, which you munch on. 

banana-chips

As a result, if you consume it regularly, in the long run, you suffer from certain diseases like high blood pressure, heart diseases, obesity, diabetes, and many more.  

There is also the possibility that the cornmeal used to make the chips could have been genetically modified, which makes them not so healthy. Also, manufacturers use unhealthy salts and spices in it to bring in that delectable taste to the chips, which in the long run can cause severe diseases like cancer. 

Who Should Avoid Plantain Chips?

If you fall in the category of such people listed below, you should avoid eating plantain chips- 

  • If you are on a keto diet, you should not consume plantain because it is high in carbs, making it a non-keto-friendly food. For reference, one serving of medium plantain contains 53 grams of net carbs, which is too heavy for a keto diet.
  • If you have high blood pressure, you should avoid eating too many packaged plantain chips because they contain high sodium levels due to different salts used.  
  • If you have heart disease, packaged plantain chips should be a big no-no on your food list. Being made in unhealthy refined/ vegetable oil, those contain high trans fats, the most harmful form of fats that lowers good cholesterol and increases bad cholesterol, leading to heart conditions.

FAQs

Check out some of the frequently asked questions about plantain chips.

Are Plantain Chips Good for Weight Loss?

While plantain is an excellent food for weight loss, plantain chips are not. When you bake or fry the plantains, they lose much of their fiber content. And the high amount of fiber content makes plantains capable of weight loss. 

Are Plantain Chips Good for Diabetics?

Plantains are known to have hypoglycemic effects to some extent which helps to manage the blood sugar levels in the body. Moreover, the rich fiber content in these green bananas also helps to keep blood sugar steady for a period. But do their chips help too? No, whether fried or baked, plantain chips do not help with diabetes. Consuming too much of these packaged chips can increase blood sugar levels. 

Are Plantain Chips Healthier Than Potato Chips?

Plantain chips are a popular snack item in Latin American countries. But what if you compare plantain chips vs potato chips? They are a healthier alternative to potato chips because they are made with fiber and vitamin-rich plantains rather than starchy and glycemic-triggering potatoes. 

Final Thought

If you love the taste of plantain chips but are also health conscious at the same time, make yourself some chips at home. It will be a healthier version of your favorite snack, with fewer calories than packaged ones. So, it’s time to indulge in the homemade goodness of healthy plantain chips.

Dr. Swathi Kilari

Dr. Swathi Kilari

Hello there! This is Dr. Swathi Kilari here, a writer in progress. I am a graduate of Cebu Doctors' University from the Philippines and am currently registered to practice in India. I write now and then to share my knowledge and experience about healthcare. I am happy to help you make wise choices to lead a healthy life. Healthcare and teaching are two of my passions. I am a food enthusiast, home baker, and cook. If I am not doing any of these, I am probably sleeping.

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