Hungry rice refers to domesticated Digitaria species which grow in West African savanna areas. Hungry rice is known locally as acha, fonio, iburu, fundi, findi, etc. There are two types found in Nigeria. Digitaria exilis is called acha or white fonio while Digitaria iburua is called iburu or black fonio.
Hungry rice has the smallest seeds of all species of millet. They are harvested just 3 to 4 months after sowing and is the world’s fastest growing cereal. Fonio is popularly eaten in North Nigeria.
Fonio is highly nutritious in the following ways;
- It has about 7% crude protein and is rich essential amino acids such as methionine and cysteine, which are lacking on other more popular cereals like wheat, maize, rice, millet, rye and barley.
- It also contains other amino acids such as isoleucine, valine, threonine, arginine, histidine, lysine, phenylalanine and tryptophan.
- It has high fiber content.
- It has a low glycemic index.
- It contains minerals such as magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, manganese, phosphorus and sodium.
- It has a good content of Vitamin B especially folate.
Some reasons why hungry rice is a healthy addition to your diet.
- The fiber content makes it good for lowering blood sugar levels and boosting cardiovascular health.
- It is good for maintaining a healthy weight.
- It is good for managing blood sugar levels because of the fiber and low glycemic index.
- It is good for maintaining healthy digestion.
- It is easy to digest so it makes a good meal for most people..
- It is excellent for preventing constipation.
- It is good for pregnant women because of the high iron and folate content.
- It is good for women generally and those dealing with anemia because of the iron content.
- It is gluten-free, unlike wheat and some other cereals.
- It is eaten whole with the bran and germ which contain fiber and lots of beneficial nutrients which are not lost during processing.
- It is a good source of carbohydrates which provide energy.
- Fonio makes a great morning cereal. It is cooked into a porridge called gwote with sorrel leaves and garden egg. It is also made into tuwo acha, kunu acha and beer.
Fonio is a bit sandy and this is a disadvantage which may put a lot of consumers off. With improvement in the processing, handling and storage methods, this can be taken care of.
Our traditional foods are mostly consumed whole and so are far healthier than most processed foods that are more popular.
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