Fonio locally known as ‘acha’ or ‘acca’ is an ancient Super-Grain that has been grown in West Africa for over 5,000 years.
Fonio is a gluten free, nutrient-rich, low Glycaemic Index (GI) grain from the millet family. It has a light nutty flavor and fluffy couscous like texture as well as remarkable health benefits.
The Guardian described it as “the grain that would defeat quinoa as king among foodies” and The Boston Globe as “the most nutritious grain you’ve probably never heard of.”
Fonio is rich in iron and amino acids and a source of zinc, phosphorus and vitamins B1 (thiamin) and B3 (niacin). The two main types of fonio are Digitaria iburua and Digitaria exilis, the latter of which is most commonly found outside Africa.
In 2020, Fonio was predicted to be one of the hottest food trend by The Times and Whole Foods. In this article we take a look at the top 5 benefits of Fonio.
High in amino acid
Choosing plant based amino acids is like feeding your body. Adding amino acids to your diet benefits your health in many ways. It strengthens your muscles, enhances body endurance, improves bone health and boosts metabolism as well.
Fonio is brimmed with amino acids including nethoine, cystine, valine, leucine and isoleucine. These amino acids are found largely in fonio compared to other casual grains such as maize, wheat, barley and rice .
Fonio is naturally gluten-free. Thus, it’s safe for people with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.
According to Coeliac UK, coeliac disease is a serious illness where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues when gluten is eaten. This disease is common and affects 1 in 100 people in the UK.
Gluten-sensitive individuals may experience abdominal discomfort and tiredness when they eat foods that contain gluten (a group of proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye). Among those with celiac disease, gluten presents the same symptoms as gluten sensitivity but also damages the small intestine
The Glycaemic Index (GI) ranks foods containing carbohydrates based on their overall effect on blood glucose levels. Foods that are absorbed slowly produce small changes in blood glucose and therefore have a low rating. Choosing low GI foods is important for those with diabetes because these foods can help even out blood glucose levels. They can also reduce the risk of heart disease.
Studies have placed fonio’s GI between 50 and 66 whereas white rice has a GI of 73 and brown rice of 68.
Fonio contains resistant starch, which resists digestion and absorption in your small intestine. They have many health benefits and may play a role in increasing insulin sensitivity and lowering blood sugar levels.
According to the Collaborative Crop Research Programme (CCRP), fonio is a suitable choice for diabetics because it contains higher amounts of insulin-secreting amino acids (valine, leucine, isoleucine) compared to other cereals such as rice, maize or millet.
Food is an often-overlooked component of mental health however the body needs certain nutrients to work effectively and this includes our psychological and neurological processes. Fonio Super-Grain is a source of B vitamins including thiamin (B1) and niacin (B3), both of which are essential for the healthy functioning of the nervous system and normal psychological function.