A claim that eating beans with ripe plantain, a popular food combination in Nigeria, is considered poisonous and unhealthy has resurfaced online.
The combination is a classic Nigerian dish enjoyed by many Nigerians across the country.
The beans are typically prepared with a stew or sauce with well-diced fried plantains.
An X (formerly Twitter) user, @prof_pius tweeted the claim with a caption that reads:
“Beans and fried ripe plantain is considered food poison. No matter how sweet it is, it’s not exactly healthy food for you.”
The post has garnered over 2,000 reposts and more than 2,000 likes since it was posted.
The claim had also been shared earlier by another X user, @sharonpeculia thus:
“Beans and fried ripe plantain is considered food poison, Stop eating it!”
Eating Beans with ripe plantains is food poison.
Findings by The FactCheckHub show that the claim is FALSE.
Checks by The FactCheckHub show that this is not the first time the claim has surfaced online and it is rooted on an article authored by one Dr Kemi Aladesanmi, a Naturopath and Acupunturist at Lopsam Natural Health Clinic in Akure, Ondo state which was published on newsroom247 on May 9, 2019.
Since then, the claim has been making rounds on social media. It has also been ‘copied and pasted’ by several online blogs.
Kemi who specialises in Acupuncture (Not Food and Nutrition) had argued that while consuming Beans with unripe Plantain has no health implications, the same Plantain, when it is ripe becomes fruit and its sweetness can be converted by heat or fire to a highly acidic substance which is dangerous to the body.
However, a review of scientific research publications and consultation with experts in the relevant field conducted by The FactCheckHub show that the claim lacks evidence as there is no credible scientific research that supports it.
Beans are a very good source of plant-based protein and dietary fibre, aiding in weight management, satiety, and digestive health. It’s also rich in essential vitamins and minerals, including folate, potassium, and iron, which contribute to overall well-being.
On the other hand, Plantains are rich sources of complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, and are easily digestible.
Plantains undergo ripening when they reach maturity. This process involves the enzymatic degradation of chlorophyll by chlorophyllase, resulting in a loss of colour and the exposure of carotenoids.
Multiple studies have explored the consumption of beans and plantains individually, as well as together.
However, none of these studies have suggested that eating beans with ripe plantains is hazardous or detrimental to human health. In essence, most research sources, such as this generally regard the consumption of both beans with plantains as safe.
Speaking with The FactCheckHub, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Chief Dietitian at Ajeromi General Hospital, Ajegunle, Lagos State, Malomo Olusola, described the claim that eating beans with fried ripe plantain is “food poison” as false and misleading.
“Except it is a colloquial expression, Beans and Plantain is healthy and safe,” he said.
“If the emphasis is on fried plantain let us x-ray Plantain. Plantain is loaded with many heart-healthy nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and fibre.”
Malomo explained that Potassium regulates blood pressure, which helps regulate heart rate, while Vitamin B6 reduces homocysteine levels in the body, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.
“Plantains are healthy. But they’re less so when you cook them with a lot of oil, fat, or sugar. High-fat, high-salt, or high-sugar foods can raise your risk of weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, or cancer,” he noted.
However, he pointed out that consuming fried plantain over an extended period, especially in quantities exceeding the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for an individual, can potentially lead to overweight, obesity, and related conditions but does not result in death when consumed.
“Let us look at the definition of food poisoning if that is what was meant by the author. It means illness caused by food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites or toxins. Infectious organisms or their toxins are the most common causes of food poisoning.
Malomo, however, concluded that fried plantain should not be classified or categorized with items referred to as “food poison”.
He encouraged the public to verify that the oils utilized for frying plantains remain uncontaminated and stressed the importance of thoroughly washing beans before cooking or parboiling them. He also advocated for educating bean sellers about modern pest control methods.
He urged regulatory agencies such as the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to mop up adulterated oils from the market and ensure compliance with imported cooking oils.
A Nutritionist and Food Scientist at the Department of Biochemistry, Bayero University, Salisu Maiwada Abubakar, also told The FactCheckHub that he could not find “any scientific evidence that supports the claim” that eating beans with ripe plantains is considered a food poison.
The claim that Beans and Plantain are an unhealthy combination and considered a food poison is FALSE; experts note that eating beans with ripe plantains is very healthy and absolutely safe.