Let’s talk about Fonio Grain( Acha) – 4 Things You Need To know
Basically, this cereal is mostly common in the mountainous areas of countries like northern Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso.
What are the Other Names of Fonio Grain?
Fonio grain has been an ancient grain; it is identified with various names. However, this name varies depending on the country’s native identity.
Other names for fonio include acha, iburura, and hungry rice.
In this article, we will notify you of the cultural significance, health benefits, and nutrients of Fonio.
What is the Cultural Significance of Fonio Grain?
Because in some parts of West Africa, fonio holds sociocultural significance.
For instance, in Mali, Togo, Senegal, Burkina Faso, fonio is traditionally reserve for chiefs. Also, the northern part of Nigeria is among the most enjoyed dish during the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan.
Additionally, fonio in some parts of Togo can stimulate milk production in breastfeeding mummies and prevent blood clotting in childbirth.
Interestingly, this grain can be grown in poor soil and survive in drought conditions that don’t require any fertilizer.
However, it is harvested within the time limit of 6-8 weeks, and you can store it without the risk of pest infestation.
What are the Different Types of Fonio Grain?
Fonio grain belongs to the millet family; it is categorized into two types:
- Digitaria iburua: This white grain is grown in Nigeria, Benin, and Togo. Also, it has black or brown spikelets.
- Digitaria exilis: This white grain grows from Senegal to Chad, as well as in central Nigeria. It’s the commonly eaten of the two varieties and more readily available outside Africa.
How can I use Fonio Grain?
In West Africa, fonio can be used in many ways. It is traditionally cooked as couscous, made into a porridge, and included in local beverages.
More similarly to other grains, it can be milled into flour and used in baked goods, such as bread, cookies, and cakes.
For other ways you can incorporate fonio into a diet, check out these recipes:
- You can substitute fonio for any grain, including rice, couscous, millet, sorghum, quinoa, and barley.
- Use it in porridge in the same manner in which you’d use oats.
- Add it to soups and stews.
- Use fonio flour in baked products like bread, cookies, cakes, and bars.
- Sprinkle it in salads.
Check out these delicious recipes:
- Calories: 170
- Protein: 2 grams
- Sugar: 0 grams
- Fat: 0.5 grams
- Carbs: 39 grams
- Fiber: 4% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Iron: 4% of the DV
All credit to this cereal. The Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) noted that Fonio contains the highest calcium content.
Notably, copper and iron help form red blood cells, connective tissue, and blood cells, while zinc plays a role in immune function, protein synthesis, and cell growth and division. Magnesium aids numerous biochemical reactions and is required for energy production.
What are the Health benefits of fonio Grain?
Fonio has been an ancient grain; it has existed for over 5,000 years.
Here are the benefits:
1. It is a good source of plant-based amino acids
Knowing that amino acids are essential to overall health, fonio contains higher amounts of sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cysteine.
However, these amino acids lack grains like wheat, sorghum, corn, rice, and barley.
Additionally, methionine is obtained from food because the body cannot produce it. More so, it plays a role in hair growth, skin elasticity, nail health, and the growth and repair of body tissues.
Furthermore, cysteine is a non-essential amino acid that’s important for protein synthesis and detoxification. However, cysteine plays a role in the formation of the amino acid taurine.
Except for lysine, a typical serving of fonio may meet about 10% of an adult’s daily essential amino acid needs.
2. It is Considered as a Whole Grain
Whole grains help in weight management and gut health. According to research, they’re also linked with many health benefits, including a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and colorectal, pancreatic, and stomach cancer.
Although, unlike refined grains in which the germ and bran are removed during processing, whole grains include all three parts of the kernel, endosperm, bran, and germ.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggests that whole grains comprise half of your daily grain intake. Including 1/4 cup (45 grams) of dry fonio in your diet can help you meet that goal.
3. It’s Gluten-free
Naturally, fonio is gluten-free; for that reason, it’s safe for people with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.
However, individuals with gluten-sensitive may experience tiredness and abdominal discomfort when they eat foods that contain gluten ( notably, a group of proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley.
Additionally, gluten also presents the same symptoms as gluten sensitivity among those with celiac disease and damages the small intestine.
4. Aid blood sugar management
A study shows that Fonio contains resistant starch.,which resists digestion and absorption in your small intestine.
However, resistant starches have many health benefits and may play an essential in increasing insulin sensitivity and lowering blood sugar levels.
Additionally, this grain has a low glycemic index (GI) score, which implies that it doesn’t quickly raise your blood sugar levels. For this reason, it may help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar.
How can I get Fonio Grain?
You can buy fonio in the African Market, or as well buy it online (Amazon)
Conclusion on Fonio Grain
Fonio is an African ancient grain that’s mostly consumed in West African countries.
It’s naturally gluten-free and offers a robust amino acid profile and other potential health benefits like improved blood sugar management.
Fonio is easy to prepare and versatile, making it a great fit for numerous savory dishes.