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Are Plantains Better Than Rice for a Diet?

Plantains, a starchy fruit related to the banana, and rice are both high-carbohydrate foods and dense sources of calories. Which one works the best with your diet depends on the specific diet you are following. In moderation, however, both of these nonfat foods can be a good fit in a healthy diet.

Plantains have slightly more calories than white rice. A cup of plantains provides 232 calories while a cup of white rice provides 205. Both plantains and rice are high in carbohydrates. Plantains have 62 g of carbohydrates, while rice has 44 g. Plantains contain 28 g of sugars, while rice has none. Keep in mind that starchy foods such as rice and plantains both convert to sugars after they are ingested. If you are counting carbohydrates, rice is your best option, as it has fewer carbs. Instead of choosing white rice, however, opt for a 1 cup serving of brown rice, which provides 216 calories and 44 g carbs.

Some diets emphasize the glycemic index score of foods. The glycemic index measures how much a particular food affects blood glucose levels. If you want your blood sugar to be steady, which has the effect of reducing cravings, your best choice is plantains. Boiled green plantains have a GI of 41, while white and brown rice both have a GI as high as 89. Ripe plantains have a glycemic index equal to rice, however, and you will want to avoid them along with rice on a low-glycemic-index diet.

Fiber helps to provide satiety, and can help you stick to a diet. Eating an additional 14 g of fiber each day helped research subjects consume 10 percent fewer calories and lose weight, according to Nancy Howarth, author of "Dietary Fiber and Weight Regulation." In a comparison of white rice and plantain, the plantain comes out ahead with almost 5 g of fiber. Brown rice, on the other hand, has only 1 g less fiber per serving than plantains, making it a healthy choice as well. To get the filling effects of fiber in your diet, pass on the white rice and choose brown rice or plantains.

If you decide to include plantains as part of a healthy diet, you will need to pay careful attention to how they are prepared. Plantains are often fried or mashed with lard or other fats, which dramatically boosts their calorie content. For example, the popular plantain dish mofongo consists of plantains and cracklings, and has over 350 calories per 3 oz. serving. Choose boiled plantains, and add minimal amounts of fat to the dish. Rice is often served plain, but Mexican and Chinese-American cuisines frequently include fried rice dishes. Avoid fried rice, and choose plain brown rice for the best blood sugar control and overall calorie count.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.