Grains are a brilliant food source to add to your diet when you are trying to eat healthily or on a budget.
There are so many different types of grains that can be added to your meals, yet we seem to stick to the same few. You are most likely to use rice, quinoa, or couscous in your regular cooking.
However, there are some other grains that are just as delicious and easy to cook that are packed with nutrients.
In this article, we will look at 5 of the most delicious and nutritious African grains that you can introduce into your cooking.
Millet was once the most widely cultivated and consumed grain across the African continent. Pearl millet in particular is believed to have originated from Africa before being exported to Asia.
There are additional types of millet that are also grown across the continent including fonio and finger millet, also known as rapoko.
Millet is a highly nutritious grain that has a high resistance to drought which makes it easy to grow in all parts of the continent.
There is a high level of niacin in millet grains which helps the body to manage over 400 enzyme reactions that help to keep you healthy. Niacin is also useful for supporting healthy skin and proper organ function.
The darker varieties of millet are also rich in beta-carotene which is an antioxidant that is beneficial for helping your body fight off free radicals and supports healthy eye function.
Millet can also be useful in stabilizing blood sugar levels, improving digestive health, and protecting your heart health.
Maize is the most common grain throughout the continent of Africa. Maize is also known as corn and is regularly consumed on a daily basis. The most common way for maize to be consumed across the continent is as a porridge.
It can be made into a soft and runny porridge, or into a stiffer and thicker porridge that is gelatinous and sticky.
The most interesting thing about maize is that it is incredibly difficult to grow in Africa and it is not an indigenous grain to the continent.
Despite the struggles to cultivate this particular grain on the continent, it is the most commonly widely consumed grain.
This is thanks, in large part, to the scientific research and investment that has been given to the grain.
Maize is another grain that is packed full of nutrients that can benefit your body and your mind. One of the most impressive things about this grain is that it can help protect your body from anemia.
It can also help to reduce your risk of cancer when consumed regularly as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Maize or corn is a great source of fiber and is incredibly helpful in the treatment of type II diabetes thanks to its ability to stabilize blood sugar levels.
It is also a naturally gluten-free grain that can be useful for people who suffer from gluten allergies or gluten intolerances.
There is also evidence that suggests that consuming maize regularly can help protect your brain from Alzheimer’s disease.
Sorghum is often referred to as millet, although this is inaccurate as it is actually an entirely different grain. This is a grain that is primarily popular in Botswana and is used to make a dish known as bogobe.
Bogobe is a type of savory porridge that can often be served as a side dish to accompany meat. It is used as an alternative to plain rice.
Sorghum can also be used to make a sour form of porridge known as ting. To make this sour porridge, the sorghum grain must be fermented.
Through the process of fermentation, you can actually increase the nutritional value of the sorghum grain.
Even without the fermentation process required to make ting, sorghum is a grain that is packed with nutrients that offer plenty of health benefits to people who consume it regularly.
Sorghum is known to contain antioxidants that have been purported to help prevent the development of cancerous cells in the body.
It has also been claimed that sorghum can help to increase the strength of bones when it is consumed as part of a balanced diet. It is the high magnesium content of the grain that helps it to strengthen your bones.
It is also very high in protein so can help you feel fuller for longer.
Wheat is a grain that you are likely to be very familiar with. Most types of bread and pasta are made with wheat grain.
Wheat and the byproducts of wheat are largely consumed in the Northern part of Africa, parts of the horn, and parts of West Africa. The most common form that wheat takes in these parts of Africa is couscous.
If you cook Moroccan meals, you will be familiar with using couscous.
Couscous or wheat contains a large amount of protein and you can easily consume the recommended amount of protein from couscous alone. One of the most abundant proteins in couscous is selenium.
This protein is essential for maintaining a healthy metabolism. Consuming couscous can also help wounds to heal faster which can be extremely beneficial in more remote areas.
Couscous is also a great grain for maintaining a healthy digestive system. Not only does it have a positive effect on your metabolism, but it also has a significant effect on your body’s ability to digest its food.
It can help prevent constipation and optimize your bowel movements. It is also claimed that couscous is a great, natural artery scraper that can help to remove any plaque build-up, bad cholesterol, and other toxins.
The final grain that we are going to look at is Teff. Teff is a grain that is almost exclusively found in countries located on the horn of Africa such as Ethiopia and Eritrea.
The most common use of this grain in these countries is in making injera. Injera is an Ethiopian flatbread that is often served alongside traditional stews known as wats.
In order to make this flatbread, the flour made from teff grains is soaked in water and covered for a few days. This allows the teff to ferment and boosts the nutritional value of the grain.
This process also adds a lightness to the flour and resulting bread. Teff is becoming more and more popular outside of its native Ethiopia. It is popular in gluten-free markets as a natural alternative to wheat flour.
Teff is known to offer a plethora of health benefits for those who consume it on a regular basis.
Aside from being a naturally gluten-free alternative to wheat flour, teff also contains significant amounts of copper which can help to support weight loss and maintain healthy energy levels.
The high fiber content also helps with supporting regular and healthy bowel movements. It has also been reported that teff can help to balance hormones in the body and promote cardiovascular health.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Are Grains So Popular In Africa?
First of all, there are a few types of grains that are not only native to the African continent, but they also are perfect to grow in even the driest of weather.
Similarly, for grains that are designed to be grown in the dry conditions that are found across Africa, a lot of investment has been channeled into the growth of grains such as maize.
This means that grains are actually abundantly available across the continent.
Another reason why grains are so popular in Africa, and why so much time, effort, and money has gone into making sure they can be grown across the continent is the nutritional value of the grains.
There are plenty of health benefits that you can get from regularly consuming grains which help to keep people healthy and happy.
Best of all, a daily portion of most of these grains can help provide you with the recommended daily amount of nutrients such as protein and fiber.
This makes it a lot easier to remain healthy without having to source ingredients that are sparse, expensive, or require importation.
Is It Healthy To Eat Grains Every Day?
It is perfectly healthy to eat one or more portions of grains every day. There are many health benefits that can be gained from consuming grains daily.
There are some grains that you should avoid consuming every day but that are fine to be eaten as part of a balanced diet that contains other grains.
Teff is an example of a grain that shouldn’t be consumed every single day. This is due to the high copper content of the grain.
Although copper can help to support weight loss and energy levels, excess copper levels have been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Africa is a continent that is rich in culture and cuisine. The grains in this article are commonly consumed in a regular, daily diet across the continent.
They are packed full of flavor and nutrients and will make a great addition to your diet.