Healthy living has become the new kind of cool, generating excitement like growing your natural hair. Apart from the benefits of living long, ageing slowly, staying trim and preventing heart wrenching diseases, eating healthy just happens to be a hot topic much akin to the burgeoning kinky hair club. Even though it’s still in its non-mainstream stages, it’s really fun to watch the obsession build up slowly. Let me use a softer, more apposite word-enthusiasm. I’m loving the enthusiasm I see: young ladies stocking up on granola and quinoa, older women loading their fridges with cauliflower rice. Even though not all of these are obtainable in Nigeria, we still have our fair share of foods to become disciples of the health nut craze.
The race to gluten free cereals has taken the cake with Fonio emerging as winner. This world’s fastest maturing millet specie is gathered within six to eight weeks of cultivation. With the black, white and raishan variants of Fonio, it is a sure source of energy with 3.6 calories per gram of grain, working as a great alternative breakfast with its ease of cooking. Full of fibre, fonio aids digestion, the consumption of Fonio also prevents constipation cardiovascular disease. It’s an ingredient for stews, salads, porridges, breads and other ingredients made out of Fonio flour. Its nutty taste and texture might make it preferable to Moringa.
In the land of superfoods, Moringa might just be one of the greatest. With seven times more vitamin C than oranges, four times more calcium than milk, four times more vitamin A than carrots and three times more potassium than bananas, I’d say Moringa was the better fruit. The power packed energy improving, sleep, blood sugar level, hair and skin enhancing, as well as blood pressure ameliorating Moringa can be found almost anywhere. With zero cholesterol and three times more iron than spinach, it makes for an awesome vegan diet. High in fibre, it aids the digestive system and its antioxidants are what in actual fact promote beautiful skin. Moringa oil may be used in place of groundnut or olive oil, and its leaves may be cooked like spinach or kale. Its seeds may be mixed with granola or hemp seeds for a yummy treat. It could also be boiled and eaten as a side dish, like peas. Lastly, Moringa leaf could be ground and added to smoothies, yogurts and soups.
Hibiscus tea, popularly known as Zobo, is not left out of the pack. Filled with vitamin c and minerals, the petals of the hibiscus plant can be dipped into hot or cold water for a nourishing fill. Between conflicting stories about whether or not hibiscus indeed reduced blood pressure, we would rest upon its proven vitamin C and mineral goodness and the undoubted fact that it is a cool quencher of thirst. Rich in flavanoids, hibiscus tea is a known antidepressant, calming down the nervous system. It has medicinal properties, flushing out toxins, with its antioxidants removing free radicals present in the body and cells. Some research says it has anti tumour features, slowing down the growth of cancer cells. It could also prevent colds and the flu with its anti-bacterial and antimicrobial properties. It lowers the absorption of starch and carbohydrates, thus proving a formidable weight loss companion. It relieves menstrual pain and hormonal imbalance, as well as mood swings and overeating. This diuretic health drink aids bowel movements, but is unsuitable for pregnant women or those taking birth control pills. This ultimate health tea however has little to no calories and is caffeine free. Its sour/cranberry-esque flavour could be enhanced by adding sugar or cinnamon. Though it reduces hypertension, it is not recommended for those who already have low blood sugar. It might also cause hallucinations or allergies. It contains organic acids such as malic, tartaric and citric acids which help boost immunity. It is also said to cure liver disease.
Finally, protein, starch and fibre rich Kidney Beans in come black, white, red, purple, spotted,mottled or striped variants. The good thing about the carbs in these beans is that they are slowly released into the blood stream, controlling blood sugar, making it an ideal choice for diabetics. The substantial amount of resistant starch these beans contain also aid in weight management. These beans also promote a healthy colon, reducing the risk of colon cancer. They also contain vitamins and minerals such as molybdenum, folate, copper, manganese, vitamin K1 and phosphorus. Cooking these beans properly destroys toxins contained in them as well as reveals their unique taste when seasoned properly. They should also be soaked for at least five hours and boiled at 100 degrees centigrade.
These goodies must have surely whetted your appetite! There’s more to come.
^ Wahabi, H. A.; Alansary, L. A.; Al-Sabban, A. H.; Glasziuo, P. (2010). “The effectiveness of Hibiscus sabdariffa in the treatment of hypertension: A systematic review”.Phytomedicine. 17 (2): 83–86.doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2009.09.002.PMID 19801187.^ a b Hopkins, A. L.; Lamm, M. G.; Funk, J. L.; Ritenbaugh, C. (2013). “Hibiscus sabdariffa L. In the treatment of hypertension and hyperlipidemia: A comprehensive review of animal and human studies”. Fitoterapia. 85: –. doi:10.1016/j.fitote.2013.01.003.PMC 3593772. PMID 23333908.