Fonio: This is the most drought-tolerant ancient grain (but you've never heard of it)

Fonio: This is the most drought-tolerant ancient grain (but you’ve never heard of it)

Fonio is an ancient cereal of African origin. In addition to remembering other cereals such as quinoa and millet, fonio is characterized by being a crop resistant to drought and able to grow even in very arid soils. Let’s find out what it is, the health benefits and how to use it in the kitchen

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For thousands of years, West African farmers have grown the fonioa kind of millet that tastes like couscous or quinoa.

Historically regarded as the oldest cereal in Africa, fonio was defined as the food of chiefs and kings. In countries like Senegal, Burkina Faso and Mali it was served on public holidays, for example during weddings and the month of Ramadan.

Today the attention is increasingly focused on the fonio for its resilience and the health benefits. As the climate continues to change, drought resistance and the ability of this crop to grow in poor soils have made it a truly extraordinary food especially in those regions where there is scarcity of water.

It also has an important nutritional value since it is a cereal a low glycemic index and gluten-free, which makes it a good source of amino acids for people with diabetes or gluten intolerance.

Read also: Arrowroot: do you know maranta starch? What it is, what it is for, benefits and uses

Fonio: nutritional values

In addition to being naturally a low cholesterol contentsodium and fat, about 45 grams of dry fonio provides:

  • Calories: 170
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams
  • Fat: 0.5 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 39 grams
  • Fiber: 4% of the daily requirement
  • Iron: 4% of the daily requirement

Benefits of fonio

Although fonio has been around for over 5,000 years, there is a lack of scientific research on this cereal.

Some studies suggest that climate, soil conditions and agricultural practices can affect the nutrient content of particular plant foods across Africa. Let’s find out all the benefits of this ancient crop together.

Excellent source of amino acids of plant origin

The fonio is a good one source of protein and it is perfect for those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Although its protein composition is comparable to that of white rice, fonio contains significantly higher amounts of the amino acids.

Whole wheat

Fonio is consumed in its entirety and is therefore considered a whole grain.

Whole grains can help control weight and gut health. They are also associated with a myriad of health benefits, including a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and colorectal, pancreatic, and stomach cancers.

It can help in the management of blood sugar

Research suggests that fonio contains resistant starchi.e. able to resist digestion and absorption in the small intestine.

According to studies, resistant starches have many health benefits and may play a role in increasing insulin sensitivity and lowering blood sugar levels.

Additionally, this cereal has a low glycemic index (GI), which means it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels rapidly. For this reason, it can help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar.

How to use fonio

Fonio is extremely versatile and, once cooked, has an earthy taste capable of absorbing the flavors of the foods it is prepared with.

In West Africa it is traditionally cooked like couscous, or made into Porridge or even mixed in drinks. Like other cereals, it can be ground and ground into flour for use in the preparation of baked goods, such as bread, biscuits and cakes.

You can replace fonio with any cereal, such as rice, couscous, millet, sorghum, quinoa, and barley. Use it in porridge the same way you would use oats, or add it to soups or salads.

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