African dishes such as Eba which is made from Gari and a host of others have always been under the stoplight for being consistently low in nutrients. Unfortunately, majority of these commentaries had focused on the few nutrient-deficient foods to the detriment of the large proportion of African main dishes rich in nutrients and minerals. According to the Center for Disease Control, 75 percent of healthcare spending is related to the treatment of preventable chronic diseases most of which are diet-related. As stated in our previous article, most African dishes and drinks such as fura da nono are rich sources of nutrients and fiber, they are as diverse as the hundreds of different cultures, tribes, and ethnic nationalities that inhabit the continent. In this article, we have outlined the African food facts and the major benefits of African foods. See: Healthy Nigerian Meals Time Table
Benefits & Side Effects of African Dishes
Lowers Cancer Risk
Dr. Denis Burkitt a renowned researcher in food science, and a major authority in African food history, in his study, concluded that western diets high in animal protein and fat but low in fiber raise the risk of colon cancer compared to African diets, which are high in whole food carbohydrate and, fiber but low in fat, protein, and oils.
African dishes traditionally rely on natural flavors, modern seasoning such as table salt and monosodium glutamate are new inventions introduced to African cooking. Although traditional African cooking techniques rely heavily on natural flavors, salt is used moderately as a staple seasoning during the preparation of the food and not sprinkled as an addition to taste as obtained in western diets. Several studies have linked sodium levels to high blood pressure. See The Healthiest Nigerian Food
As observed by Dr. Denis Burkitt African dishes are high in fiber which has been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases and heart disease because of its beneficial effect on cholesterol levels. The high Fiber content of African diets also improves bowel movement, prevents constipation, and helps in the slow absorption of sugar from the blood which lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes.
In addition, the high fiber content of African food or dishes increases the feeling of fullness leading to less frequent consumption of food and fewer calories which promotes weight management.
The World Health Organization recommends that individuals should not consume more than 7% of total calories from saturated fat. 1 gram of fat yields double the amount of calories from the same amount of carbohydrate and protein. Researchers at Harvard in a recent study concluded that trans-fat could be responsible for as many as 30,000 premature coronary deaths per year. African diet is, mostly low in fat which significantly reduces the risk of the accumulation of plaques in the arteries which have been linked to cardiovascular diseases.
However, one of the side effects that has been linked with African food is related to its lipid content, especially the animal fat used in some soups and traditional menus. See Where to Find Nigerian & African Dishes While Abroad
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Also SEE: Health Benefits of Semovita
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