8 African Superfoods You Should Be Eating
Over 20 percent of people in sub-Saharan Africa suffer from malnutrition, many living on land that grows some of the most nutritious food on the planet. They don’t have the resources to get it it, let alone harvest it.
Organizations are arising to help educate impoverished communities in Africa on how to reap the benefits of the superfoods growing in their backyard. Food manufacturers have caught on to the fact that if African superfoods can heal malnutrition, they can do wonders for the healthy individual.
There is no legal or medical definition, but superfoods are nutrient powerhouses that pack large doses of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals, according to Health.com. Eating them may reduce the risk of chronic disease and prolong life, and people who eat more of them are healthier and thinner than those who don’t.
Here are 8 African superfoods you should be eating.
Tamarind, Tropical Africa
Tamarind makes delicious juices, sodas, and candy with its unique sweet and sour flavor. If you have to chew on a candy, though, chew on the dried fruit that packs five grams of fiber in just 100 grams. Two tablespoons of the stuff can serve as an effective but gentle laxative, says Ygoy.com. Its fat content is also almost non-existent.
Teff, Ethiopia, and Eritrea
Teff is a powerful grain that boasts over 120 milligrams of calcium in just one cooked cup. It also has an enormous amount of protein, with 10 grams in one cooked cup, and just 255 calories. Teff flour pancakes are a great option for vegans looking for an energizing breakfast. The food also has a low glycemic load, according to Self.com.
If you’re looking for a highly nutritious cereal, buy one that is amaranth based. Amaranth might have cancer-fighting properties, and the ability to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. It also has a protein content comparable to that of animal protein, according to Wholegrainscouncil.org. Add to that the plant’s leaves have a significant amount of beta carotene, which is great for your eyes and skin.
Kenkiliba, Sahel region
The Sahel region spans the area from Senegal eastward towards Sudan and boasts the super kenkiliba plant. The leaves are used to make a tea that is highly detoxifying, and helps with digestion issues. Kenkiliba tea is the choice for many West African Muslims to break their Ramadan fast because it stimulates the digestive tract, says Africanepicure.com. It also helps with circulation and keeps skin clear.
Hibiscus, Egypt, and Sudan
Hibiscus might be the better tea option over gingerbread or other popular seasonal flavors. When the flowers are seeped in hot water, they give it a stunning red hue, but they also load that tea with antioxidants and vitamin C. Drinking the stuff might also lower blood pressure in pre-hypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults, according to Organicfacts.net. Add to that it’s a caffeine-free tea, and it could be a great, soothing bedtime drink.
Fonio, Sahel Region
Fonio is another natural gem from the Sahel Region. It’s a gluten-free grain packed with amino acids, and it is great in stews and porridges. It’s also easy to digest, so it’s great for kids new to grains, or the elderly. Fonio is also effective in preventing diabetes, or stabilizing blood sugar for diabetics because of its low glycemic index, according to Healthbenefitstimes.com. Add to that its high iron content and it’s a great choice for pregnant women who need extra nourishment.
Moringa, West Africa
Moringa only recently hit the major food markets in Africa, but its impressive nutritional profile developed a reputation fast. The plant’s leaves are dried and ground up into a powder that can be added to your smoothies, shakes, or milk in your cereal. It has more protein than yogurt and more iron than spinach. The food is so nutritious that it helped a Peace Corps member in Niger overcome malnutrition, according to a story on One.org.
Both the fruit and leaves of the baobab tree are edible and shine in the health benefits department. What makes the fruit especially useful is that because it is naturally dry, it can last almost indefinitely. The fruit got a write up on Forbes.com after the charity PhytoTrade Africa created a system through which African families living in poverty can harvest and sell the fruit to cover living expenses. As for nutrition, it has more vitamin C than oranges, twice as much calcium as milk and tons of magnesium.
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