World Food Day: 5 healthy Nigerian foods to add to your diet

Edikang Ikong soup is one of the healthiest meals in the country
  • A study conducted among men and women in 187 countries over 20 years (1990 — 2010) found that diets from Sub-Saharan Africa are healthier compared to diets from other parts of the world.
  • Based on foods from West African countries, the study concluded that local diets in Sub-Saharan Africa are rich in dietary fibre ( which is great for the heart), low in added sugar, fat and sodium.
  • On this World Food Day, we take a look at five healthy indigenous foods to add to your diet.

It's World Food Day. Observed annually on October 16, its a day dedicated to tackling global hunger. This year’s theme is ‘Our Actions Are Our Future Healthy Diets for A #ZeroHunger World’.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations,This year, World Food Day calls for action across sectors to make healthy and sustainable diets affordable and accessible to everyone. At the same time, it calls on everyone to start thinking about what we eat.”

In line with this year’s theme, we have put together a list of healthy ethnic food dishes. They are:

  • Edikang Ikong Soup

This is one of the healthiest meals in the country because it is made up of mostly vegetables. It is usually made with two main vegetables — fresh green fluted pumpkin leaves (Ugu) and waterleaf ("Efo gure" and "Mgbolondi" in Yoruba and Igbo languages respectively). Waterleaf improves blood circulation, boosts immunity and aids weight loss.

Pumpkin leaves are rich in antioxidants that help prevent cancer, prevent anaemia by boosting blood production and promotes fertility. It also serves as an anti-diabetic agent that can help regulate the blood glucose level.

  • Egusi

This popular dish is rich in healthy fats, protein, and several vitamins. Egusi is great for the skin, digestion, fighting inflammation, breast cancer cells and treating boils. To get the most of its health benefits, its best to use little oil because of its high oil content.

  • Plantain pottage

Plantain pottage is an easy-to-make meal that is delicious and healthy. Made with unripe plantains, it is a good source of essential nutrients like potassium, carbohydrates, vitamin c, iron, rich in fibre, magnesium, calcium, vitamins A and B6, and more.

Health benefits include boosting the immune system, aiding digestion, providing the body with adequate energy, preventing anaemia and controlling blood sugar (which makes it perfect for diabetic patients).

  • Moimoi or Moin-Moin 

Made from beans (a healthy source of protein, fat, fibre and other nutrients), this is great for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

It's perfect for children, adults, vegetarians, diabetics, pregnant and nursing mothers.

  • Ofada rice

Dr (Mrs) Khadijah Alarape, the State Nutrition Officer of Oyo State Ministry of Health, recommends ofada rice as a healthy alternative to white rice.

"A wholegrain like ofada rice has three layers; the bran, germ and the endosperm. The bran contains most of the nutrients and when the whole grain is processed to white or polished rice, majority of the nutrients, most especially in the bran are lost," she explains.

Ofada contains nutrients that fight colon and gall stones. It is also great for lowering bad cholesterol levels and preventing constipation.

This variety of rice is grown almost exclusively in Ogun State, Southwestern Nigeria.

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