Fonio beans are considered one of the oldest grains cultivated on the African continent.
If this is the first time that you are exposed to fonio beans, then through the following lines you can learn more about these grains and their nutritional benefits.
Fonio beans and their cultural significance
In some parts of West Africa, fonio carries social and cultural significance. In Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Togo, fonio was a food for chiefs and royals and is enjoyed during the holy month of Ramadan or at ceremonies such as weddings and baptisms.
In some parts of Togo, fonio is used to prevent blood clotting after childbirth and to stimulate milk production in women who are breastfeeding their babies.
Fonio is a good food security because it grows even in drought conditions and poor soils, without the need for fertilizers or other tools.
Nutritional importance and health benefits of fonio
Fonio has multiple health benefits, which are reviewed by healthline, including:
- Fonio is a nutritional powerhouse.
In addition to being naturally low in cholesterol, sodium and fat, 1/4 cup of dry fonio provides:
Protein: 2 grams
Sugar: 0 grams
Fat: 0.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 39 grams
Fiber: 4% of the Daily Value (DV)
Iron: 4% of the daily value
- 2- Fonio beans are rich in vitamin B and calcium:
Fonio is a good source of B vitamins, including thiamin, riboflavin and niacin, which are nutrients essential for the growth, development and function of cells, as well as energy production.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations also suggests that fonio has the highest calcium content of all grains.
This may make it a good choice for those who do not consume dairy products, such as vegans or individuals who are lactose intolerant.
- 3- Fonio is rich in iron, copper, zinc and magnesium:
The previous three elements are of great importance in supporting human health. Iron and copper help form red blood cells and connective tissue, while zinc plays a role in immune function, protein synthesis, and cell growth and division. Magnesium helps in many biochemical reactions and is essential for energy production.
- Fonio Beans Are A Great Source Of Plant-Based Amino Acids
Fonio beans are a good addition to the diets of people who do not eat enough animal or protein-based foods.
Although its protein composition is similar to that of white rice, fonio contains much higher amounts of the sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cysteine. Both of these amino acids are lacking in other grains such as corn, wheat, rice, sorghum, and barley.
You must get methionine through food, because your body can’t make it. Methionine is of great importance, as it plays a role in skin elasticity, hair growth, nail health, and body tissue growth and repair. Cysteine is important in protein synthesis and detoxification.
- Fonio is gluten-free.
Fonio cereal is naturally gluten free. Thus, it is safe for people with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. Gluten is a group of proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye.
Gluten-sensitive individuals may experience abdominal discomfort and fatigue when eating foods that contain it.
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Fonio dreams of conquering the health food market
Senegalese chef Pierre Thiam confirms that fonio beans have all the ingredients to invade the world thirsting for healthy and sound food. Thiam presented his dream at the “TED Global 2017” conference in Arusha, Tanzania, which is based on seeing this magic pill improve the lives of coastal residents and impose itself in the stores of developed countries. .
Thiam believes that this grain has been neglected and is no longer cultivated except in the west of the Sahel, in areas such as Kidougou, which is one of the poorest regions of Senegal. Thiam attributed this to the “colonial mentality” that prompted the Senegalese to not value their local cultures and traditions and to turn more to rice imported from China or, for the better off, to French baguettes and croissants.
In 2016, part of Tiam’s dream came true, as the chef obtained approval from the American “Whole Foods” organic food chain to put these grains on sale. And the fonio began to be displayed on the shelves of this famous brand in New York.
However, many obstacles still stand in the way of fonio to succeed in the global market for healthy foods, including that it is harvested manually through a tedious process, then it must be sifted and peeled, and it must maintain an even form necessary for its marketing, which is not easy.
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