Plantains are hard and starchy and are used for cooking, as contrasted with the soft, sweet banana varieties. Plantains are a staple food in the tropical regions of the world, treated in much the same way as potatoes and with a similar neutral flavour and texture when unripe. Ripe plantain is used as food for infants at weaning: it is mashed with a pinch of salt and is believed to be more easily digestible than ripe banana Ripe plantains can be eaten raw, or they can be used for cooking at any stage of ripeness. As the plantain ripens, its colour changes from green to yellow to black, just like its cousin the banana. Green plantains are firm and starchy and resemble potatoes in flavour. Yellow plantains are softer and starchy but sweet. Extremely ripe plantains are black, with a softer, deep yellow pulp that is much sweeter than the earlier stages of ripeness, in fact the riper the plantain is, the sweeter it becomes. Plantains in the yellow to black stages can be used in sweet dishes. Steam cooked plantains are considered a nutritious food for young children and the elderly.