Is Mangu high in carbs?

Mangu is a popular Caribbean dish made from boiled or mashed plantains. It is commonly served as a side dish or breakfast meal in many Latin American and Caribbean cuisines. Mangu is relatively high in carbohydrates, given its main ingredient is plantains, which are starchy fruits. However, the exact carb count can vary depending on how it is prepared and any additional ingredients.

What is Mangu?

Mangu is made from green, unripe plantains that are boiled or pressure cooked until soft. The cooked plantains are then mashed together into a thick puree. Mangu has a smooth, thick consistency similar to mashed potatoes.

Traditional mangu is fairly plain, consisting solely of the boiled green plantains with a bit of salt. However, many variations exist across Latin cuisine:

  • Onion, garlic or other aromatic ingredients are often sautéed in oil and incorporated into the mashed plantains for more flavor.
  • Milk, butter, sour cream or cheese is sometimes added for a richer, creamier mangu.
  • Eggs, tomato sauce or meat may be mixed in for added protein and nutrition.
  • Common garnishes and sides for mangu include fried onions, bacon, cheese, avocado and fried eggs.

The term “mangu” comes from the Taíno root word “maní” meaning plantain. It’s considered the Dominican Republic’s national dish, though enjoyed throughout the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Central America.

Are Plantains High in Carbs?

Plantains are a starchy fruit that resembles a banana. They contain more starch and less sugar compared to sweet bananas.

One medium plantain (118g) contains: (1)

  • Calories: 179
  • Carbs: 46g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Sugar: 12g
  • Protein: 2g

So about 85% of the calories in plantains come from carbs. However, over half of the carbs are starch while the rest are fiber and sugars.

Like bananas, plantains have a low glycemic index, meaning they do not raise blood sugar levels as quickly compared to other starchy foods.

But portion sizes matter, as eating multiple large plantains in one sitting can provide a big source of carbs and calories.

Carb Count of Mangu

Since mangu is made of mashed green plantains, it’s also high in carbs. But the exact amount can vary based on:

Serving Size

Larger servings of mangu contain more total carbs. A small side may have 15-30 grams of carbs, while a large plate of mangu could have 60+ grams.

Additions and Garnishes

Plain mashed plantains are lowest in carbs. Adding higher carb ingredients like milk, cheese or rice increases the carb content.

Ripeness of Plantains

Greener, unripe plantains have more starch while riper, yellow plantains have more sugar. Using slightly underripe plantains results in a starchier, lower carb mangu.

Cooking Method

Boiling mangu helps retain more nutrients vs frying, which adds more fat and calories.

Here is the carb count for different types of mangu:

Type of Mangu Serving Size Total Carbs
Plain boiled green plantains 1 cup 37g
Mangu with onions, garlic, oil 1 cup 42g
Cheese mangu 1 cup 45g
Mangu with milk 1 cup 48g
Mangu with fried salami 1 plate 55g

As shown, carb counts per serving can range from 37-55g depending on preparation.

Glycemic Index of Mangu

The glycemic index (GI) measures how quickly a food raises blood sugar. High GI foods (GI 70+) cause faster, more intense spikes, while low GI foods (GI 55 and under) cause a slower, more gradual rise.

Studies on the GI of mangu are limited. But as a starchy plantain dish, it likely has a moderate GI around 60. For comparison:

  • Boiled green plantains have a GI of 55.
  • Ripe mashed plantains have a GI of 63.

Factors like ripeness of the plantains, cooking method and additions can influence the GI. Overall, mangu is in the intermediate GI range and not nearly as high GI as white rice (73) or Russet potatoes (111). (2)

Nutrition Benefits of Mangu

Despite the carbs, mangu made from green plantains has some nutritional advantages:

Rich in Vitamins and Minerals

Mangu provides a good amount of essential vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin C – 15% DV
  • Vitamin B6 – 14% DV
  • Potassium – 12% DV
  • Magnesium – 10% DV
  • Copper – 15% DV

High in Fiber

A 1 cup serving of mangu has around 3-4g of fiber, helping to slow digestion and control blood sugar response.


Green plantains are rich in antioxidants like carotenoids which may reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.

Low Fat

Plain mashed plantains contain under 1 gram of fat per serving. It’s much lower in fat compared to creamed/buttered mashed potatoes.

Effects on Blood Sugar

Here’s how mangu may impact blood sugar levels:

Moderate Carb Counts

Per serving, mangu provides around 30-50 grams of digestible carbs. This a moderate source, less than high carb options like rice or pasta.

High Fiber

The fiber in mangu (3-4g per serving) helps slow the digestion and breakdown of carbs into glucose. This results in a slower, steadier rise in blood sugar compared to low fiber refined carbs.

Intermediate GI

Mangu likely has a GI around 60, in the intermediate range. So it raises blood sugar slower than high GI foods like white bread or rice. But it may spike blood sugar more than low GI foods like non-starchy vegetables.

Overall, mangu is not nearly as high in carbs or as glycemic as something like white rice or bread. But it provides a moderate serving of carbs best paired with fiber, protein and healthy fats to help manage blood sugar response.

Tips for Balancing Mangu in a Diabetic Diet

Here are some tips for balancing mangu in a diabetic diet:

  • Monitor portions and aim for 1 cup serving sizes, limiting to no more than 2 cups per meal.
  • Choose slightly underripe, green plantains which are lower in sugar.
  • Avoid adding sugary ingredients like condensed milk or honey.
  • Increase fiber content by adding beans, lentils, vegetables or seeds.
  • Incorporate healthy fats like avocado, nuts or olive oil to slow digestion.
  • Pair with lean protein like eggs, chicken or fish.
  • Avoid fried mangu or fried side dishes in favor of boiled or grilled options.

It’s also best to monitor blood sugar carefully when introducing mangu to see how it impacts your levels. Checking glucose before and 2 hours after eating can help you gauge response.

Glycemic Load Comparison

The glycemic load accounts for both the GI and carb content of a food. It provides a better indicator of blood sugar impact compared to GI alone.

Here is a glycemic load comparison per standard serving: (3)

Food Serving Glycemic Load
Mangu with milk and cheese 1 cup 25
Sweet potato 1 medium 17
Quinoa 1 cup 18
Brown rice 1 cup 23
White rice 1 cup 43
French baguette 1 slice 15
Banana 1 medium 12

Mangu has a higher glycemic load than non-starchy vegetables and fruits, so it’s more likely to raise blood sugar. But it has a lower glycemic load than refined grains like white rice and bread.

Effect on Gut Health

Here is how mangu may impact gut health:

Rich in Fermentable Fiber

Mangu contains around 3-4 grams of fiber per serving, or about 10-15% of the daily fiber recommendation. The fiber in mangu is fermentable, meaning it feeds the healthy bacteria in the gut microbiome. This can promote the growth of beneficial bifidobacteria and lactobacilli strains.

Resistant Starch

Green plantains are a source of resistant starch, a type of starch that escapes digestion and acts as fermentable fiber in the large intestine. This also serves as a prebiotic to nourish good gut bacteria. Cooling mangu after cooking may enhance resistant starch content.


Mangu is generally low in FODMAPs, making it less likely to cause digestive issues in some people compared to other high FODMAP foods like beans, dairy, wheat and certain fruits.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Some studies suggest mangu’s antioxidants like carotenoids and polyphenols may have anti-inflammatory effects in the GI tract, which could benefit conditions like IBD and IBS. But more research is needed specifically on mangu.

Overall, the fiber, resistant starch and polyphenol antioxidants in mangu appear beneficial in supporting a healthy gut microbiome and reducing inflammation. But those with IBS should still monitor individual tolerance.

Mangu vs. Corn vs. Potatoes

Here’s how mangu compares to corn and potatoes:

Nutrient Mangu
(1 cup)
(1 cup)
(1 medium)
Calories 179 132 161
Carbs 46g 31g 36g
Fiber 3g 2g 4g
Sugar 12g 5g 2g
Fat 0.5g 1.5g 0g
Protein 2g 3g 4g

Mangu provides more calories and carbs than corn and potatoes per serving. Corn is lowest in calories and carbs of the three. Mangu is highest in natural sugars, while potatoes edge out slightly higher in fiber and protein. In terms of fat, mangu and potatoes are negligible, while corn contains a bit more.

Can Mangu Be Keto?

The standard ketogenic diet limits net carbs to 20-50 grams per day. With around 30-50 grams of total carbs per typical serving, mangu would exceed the daily carb range on its own.

However, smaller portions of mangu may potentially fit into a keto diet:

  • Limit to 1/2 cup serving size
  • Pair with very low carb foods to stay under 50g total carbs
  • Save mangu for days with intense workouts to reload glycogen stores

Ultimately, standard mangu preparations don’t fit ketogenic nutritional parameters for most people. But smaller servings may occasionally work for some following a keto diet.

Mangu Recipe Ideas

Here are some delicious mangu recipes to enjoy:

Basic Mangu


  • 3 green plantains, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  1. Add plantains and water to pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes until plantains are very soft.
  3. Drain water and mash plantains while still hot with a fork or potato masher.
  4. Season with salt and mix well. Add more salt if desired.

Cheese Mangu

Make basic mangu recipe above then mix in:

  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp sour cream or heavy cream

Garnish with extra cheese, chopped parsley or scallions.

Mangu with Eggs

Make basic mangu recipe. Fry 2-3 eggs over medium. Place mangu on plate and top with fried eggs.

Mangu and Avocado Toast

Toast 2 slices of bread. Mash 1 avocado with lime juice and spread over toast. Top with 1 cup hot mangu and 1-2 fried eggs.

Where to Find Mangu

Mangu can be found in:

  • Caribbean restaurants and food trucks
  • Latin American eateries and bakeries
  • Haitian, Dominican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban restaurants
  • Tropical fruit stands and international food stores
  • frozen or premade in Latin/Caribbean grocery aisles

Look for the distinctive, smooth yellow mush of mangu alongside other plantain dishes like mofongo and tostones.


Mangu is relatively high in carbohydrates given its main ingredient is boiled green plantains. A 1 cup serving provides around 30-50g of total carbs, most of which is starch rather than sugar.

However, mangu is rich in nutrients like potassium, vitamin C, and antioxidants. Its fiber content helps slow digestion and results in a lower glycemic response than refined carbs. Mangu has a moderate glycemic index around 60.

People with diabetes can incorporate mangu in moderation by controlling portions, choosing firm green plantains, and pairing it with protein, veggies and healthy fats. Though high in carbs, mangu offers more nutritional benefits than white rice or potatoes. Enjoying 1 cup or less per meal can be a tasty addition to a healthy diabetes-friendly diet when combined with other balanced foods.

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