“A long life is not good enough, but a good life is long enough”. Thank you, Reb. Esther Jungreis. The sad truth is, if someone is under-nourished, life may not be either long or good. The good news, however, is that we needn’t poke our fingers into the far-reaching international market to gain all the goodness necessary for a long, healthy life. How much attention have we been giving to the nourishment grown on our very own soil? Too little! So here is our list of the best African Superfoods that you should consider adding to your diet:
Moringa – properly known as moringa oleifera, this nutrient dense tree and all its edibles, which include bark, pods, leaves, nuts, seeds, tubers, roots and flowers, is chock full of vitamin C and A. It also hosts twice the protein of dairy sources such as yogurt and milk, which makes it a great option for vegans. If you’re tired of eating spinach leaves for iron, moringa contains 25 times more iron. You can boil the moringa leaves and make tea or add a half tablespoon of powder to smoothies for a nutrient punch. If you prefer to just toss in a capsule, there is an option for that too.
Teff – make a healthy porridge with teff, a fine grain native to Ethiopia and Eritrea. Unusually, this grain is surprisingly high in vitamin C, as well as protein and iron. Mix in some cinnamon and flaxseed powders for porridge or make a healthier bread for afternoon tea, or some decadent (but still healthy) pancakes or crepes, or even a crunchy salad topping.
Pumpkin leaves – yes, leaves, not seeds. You can use this vitamin A and C dense green in stir fries or stews, or eat them fresh or dried. Their taste is similar to other green vegetable varieties like spinach and broccoli. Pumpkin leaves are also high in B vitamins, folate and potassium. Because green is good!
Fonio – hailed from West Africa, fonio is a grain that is high in amino acids and can be added to porridges, stews and salads. Amino acids are a building block of protein and help build muscles and transport nutrients throughout the body. They also help the body fight illness and low immunity, depression and digestive problems.
Baobab – if you love the freshness of citrus, you’ll enjoy adding this Superfood powder to juices and smoothies. It’s high in antioxidants, which helps the body fight free radicals that cause disease, and also help you maintain a youthful glow. Who doesn’t want to look young forever? It also has high levels of potassium, magnesium and iron.
Amaranth – keeping on the grain train, the Southern African amaranth is 30% higher in protein than other cereals like rice, sorghum and rye. Amaranth is a great complementary grain, so grind it up with some oats for an extra dose of protein and amino acids. It also helps reduce inflammation and lowers cholesterol levels.
Tamarind – if you like a little sweet-sour, then tamarind and its sticky goodness is for you. This tropical, African fruit is used to make juice and is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, as well as being a rich source of dietary fibre. It helps restore electrolyte imbalance if you’re dehydrated, so it makes for a great remedy for a hot African day. Many East African hosts welcome their guests with a glass of this fresh pulp. It is rich in magnesium and contains more calcium than other plant sources. These two minerals are key in the prevention of osteoporosis and bone fractures.
Coconut – coconut for more electrolyte replenishment! There’s no shortage of these guys on a tropical coastline. Its fatty-acid content boosts healthy brain function and its milk aids digestion. Plus it’s a natural antiviral and will work with those antioxidants to give your skin a beautiful glow.
Kenkiliba – tea lovers will enjoy this native Sahel shrub. It acts as a digestive detoxifier, which aids relief of constipation and treatment of gallstones. Its stimulating power aids biliary function, which helps drain the liver of waste. If you fast, you can break it with some sweet kenkiliba tea – and pair it with some teff bread! Delicious.