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Africa is home to about 1.3 billion people, 3,000 tribes and 2,000 languages. The continent is indeed filled with vast and rich cultures depicting the lives of the different people in it. From language to ceremonies, dressing, and even food, each tribe has unique cultural elements that define their heritage.
Humans can’t thrive without food… good food, so we all have devised different recipes and styles of cooking. Africa is not left out in this as the people enjoy cultural delicacies that are colorful, healthy, and nutritious right from the times of their ancestors.
In this article, we explore different healthy foods enjoyed by Africans.
Africans Eat These Foods & Drinks to Stay Healthy
Grains make up the bulk of the African food diet. In fact, the African heritage diet is not complete without the staple grains. They are essential because they are rich in nutrients, including carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. Rice ranks as one of the most consumed grains in the continent, with countries such as Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa spending over $3.5 billion importing rice yearly. It is served in different ways, such as white rice, jollof rice, or fried rice. The Jollof rice is so popular that many African countries compete on social media on whose Jollof is the best.
Teff is a grain that is predominantly in Ethiopia and Eritrea. It is used to prepare injera, a traditional flatbread eaten in mostly both countries. Not only is Teff grain tasty, but also healthy. The protein-rich staple food delivers health benefits, including improved blood circulation, enhanced immune function, reduced menstrual problems, and optimized metabolism, and even contributes to the management of diabetic symptoms.
Fonio is a couscous-like grain common to countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea, and Senegal. It is popularly known as iburura and acha. It is a cuisine cooked in stews and soups, grounded into flours, or added to salads.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are another category of foods that contribute to the healthy diet of Africans. Fruits contain nutrients such as vitamins, potassium, and minerals that help to support the brain, bones, digestive system, and overall health. Common African fruits include bitter kola, African star apple (commonly called Agbalumo or Udara in Nigeria), African walnut, date, mango, coconut, Ackee, and African baobab.
Vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber that collectively promote your overall health and improve skin and hair health.
Cocoyam leaves (taro) are edible green leaves called Kontomire in the Akan dialect of Ghana. It is the main ingredient for the Ghanaian Kontomire stew. Other typical ingredients include eggs, dried fish, palm oil, pepper, and tomatoes.
African spinach leaf is a vegetable native to Africa. It is called Shoko by the Yoruba people of Nigeria, mchicha in Swahili, doodo by the Ugandan people, and terere by the Kenyans. It is used to prepare delicacies such as Eru soup in Cameroon and Morogo in South Africa. Pumpkin leaves — or Ugu leaves as they are popularly called by Igbos in Nigeria — are large and rounded dark green leaves used for different types of Nigerian vegetable soups like okra soup, Edikang Ikong, and waterleaf soup. Pumpkin leaves are so rich in nutrients that they are usually blended (or hand washed) to make a blood tonic.
Njama njama, or huckleberry, is a popular leafy green vegetable in Cameroon and Kenya. It is usually cooked with pepper and lots of spices like paprika. It is usually cooked with pepper and lots of spices like paprika to make a deeply fragrant soup. The natives typically pair the vegetable soup with fufu, a staple dough made out of pounded starch.
Fufu is eaten all over Africa in countries such as Liberia, Benin Republic, Angola, Nigeria, Gabon Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, and Togo.
Beverages are another great source of nutrition in Africa. Zobo (zoborodo in Hausa or karkade in Sudan) is a drink made by boiling Hibiscus leaves, garlic, ginger, water, pineapples, and sometimes, citrus fruits. The Zobo drink contains vitamin C, fiber, calcium, iron, and other essential nutrients. It has proven to be a good remedy for health conditions such as diabetes, cholesterol, and blood pressure. It can also aid in weight loss.
Café Touba is a Senegalese coffee drink made with Selim grains or Guinea pepper and cloves. It originated from an African Sufi leader, Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba, who would recommend it to his followers to drink while they stayed up at night. The Guinea pepper helps with digestion and serves as an antidepressant.
Have you eaten any of these African foods, or do you have a healthy African food you love to eat? Let us know in the comments.