Of the healthy grains out there, fonio benefits aren’t well known and they should be. Fonio is naturally vegan, gluten-free, and packed with vitamins and amino acids. Fonio benefits come from it being high in fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and various beneficial antioxidants (1).
Fonio is a type of millet native to West Africa, that is incredibly nutritious. It has been cultivated for more than 5,000 years and maybe Africa’s oldest cultivated cereal crop (2). It has significantly more fiber, protein, and iron than rice.
Today, this species of millet is grown throughout many parts of Western Africa including Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, and Chad. It has a scrumptious, slightly nutty flavor and tastes like heaven when doused with all kinds of sauces.
Fonio is a plant-protein powerhouse with a whopping 12 grams of protein per cup. Fonio benefits are great for weight loss and treating other digestive issues like constipation. They also protect the heart and prevent deadly diseases like cancer (3). The antioxidants fonio contains also can benefit skin and hair health.
If you’re a visual learner, check out the video below to see fonio benefits:
Health Boosting Fonio Benefits
1. Promotes Weight Loss
In order to lose weight, you need to take in fewer calories than you burn. Fonio is high in fiber. In fact, much higher than most grains and seeds. Certain food properties can promote weight loss, either by boosting metabolism or reducing appetite. The high amount of fiber may increase feelings of fullness, making you eat fewer calories overall. And it’s high in protein, which can both increase metabolism and reduce appetite significantly
2. Increases Energy
Step away from carbs like rice and bread. They can cause blood-sugar crashes that leave you dragging. Opt for some fonio which essentially is a complex card that can give you a steady dose of energy throughout your day. Fonio is a fantastic source of B vitamins, fiber, protein, and all 9 essential amino acids that your body can’t make itself, which are essential for building muscle (5).
Fonio is also a great source of iron. Iron is necessary for a range of processes in the human body. It is, for example, an essential part of hemoglobin. This compound carries oxygen in the blood, supporting energy and cell function throughout the body.
Fonio is known to contain many anti-inflammatory nutrients, including phenolic acids, cell wall polysaccharides, and vitamin E family nutrients (6). Fonio benefits help promote healthy gut microbes (the friendly bacteria in the gut), which is important for preventing obesity, inflammation, and disease.
4. Lowers Cholesterol
Fonio ‘s good fiber content can aid in lowering cholesterol levels. Fiber aids in digestion, which requires bile acids, which are made partly with cholesterol. As your digestion improves, the liver pulls cholesterol from the blood to create more bile acid, thereby reducing the amount of LDL, the bad cholesterol. Numerous studies show that fiber can help reduce blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, increase fullness and help with weight loss (7).
5. Improves Digestion
Our digestive system is very intricate and we can develop several digestive disorders due to diet, emotional stress or disease. Fonio can help with digestion for it is a source of insoluble and soluble fiber. Fiber adds bulk to the food churned in your stomach, and this stimulates the walls of your digestive tract. This helps with regular bowel movements.
6. Aids In Anemia Treatment
Fonio is rich in iron and a diet adequate in iron can help prevent anemia. Another nutrient to look at in this aspect is riboflavin – which fonio is rich in. Anemia can also be caused due to less riboflavin in one’s diet. Iron is required to make hemoglobin, which is a part of the red blood cells that bind and carry oxygen in your blood.
7. Boosts Metabolism
Boosting your metabolism can not only help you lose weight by increasing your calorie-burning capacity, but it also helps you maintain a healthy weight. Whole grains are great foods that speed up metabolism because they are low on the glycemic index, which means you start feeling fuller more quickly after eating. Fonio is an especially great superfood because you get protein and fiber, always a good mix for burning fat and thereby speeding up metabolism.
8. Helps Fight Diabetes And Hypertension
Fonio can help with diabetes management and hypertension. It also has a low glycemic value, which means that, compared to higher glycemic carbohydrates, it may have only a minimal effect on your blood sugar. That’s because fonio’s high protein and fiber content help slow down the rate at which the grain is digested and absorbed into your bloodstream.
9. Improves Skin
Fonio is rich in B vitamins, nutrients that help treat age spots and other conditions related to skin pigmentation by reducing the deposits of dark melanin in the skin. And the vitamin B12 in fonio interacts with the other B vitamins to maintain a healthy skin complexion.
Fonio contains vitamin A, which can help delay the aging process (8). It reduces fine lines and makes your skin look young. And the riboflavin in fonio (or vitamin B2) improves skin elasticity.
10. Protects Heart Health
Fonio contains heart-healthy fats that can help boost your “good cholesterol.” Fonio contains many beneficial nutrients and compounds, including potassium, and magnesium, which have been discussed in relation to heart-healthy properties such as lowered blood pressure. Because whole grains have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, the AHA recommends getting three servings each day.
11. Helps Prevent Osteoporosis
Given that fonio is rich in magnesium, it works great for bone health. The mineral plays a role in bone formation. Fonio is also rich in protein, a nutrient that serves as a building block for the bones. It also contains essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own, which helps with preventing osteoporosis.
Following a gluten-free diet can be challenging, often requiring effort to find healthy alternatives to whole-wheat products. Gluten intolerance and celiac disease are on the rise in many parts of the world and the only way of treating it, is to not eat foods that contain gluten. Because fonio is naturally gluten-free, this nutritionally dense grain is the perfect pick for gluten-free diets
Fonio benefits are very high in antioxidants, which are substances that neutralize free radicals and are believed to help fight aging and many diseases. These antioxidants may protect against a range of chronic conditions and other harmful substances that cause cancer. Adding antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables to your daily diet will strengthen your immune system and overall health.
The following nutrition information, from the USDA National Agriculture Library, is for 1/4 cup (45g) dry serving of pearled fonio, which yields 1 cup cooked:
- Calories: 170
- Fat: 0.5g
- Sodium: 0mg
- Carbohydrates: 39g
- Fiber: 1g
- Sugars: 0g
- Protein: 2g
Since fonio is rich in fiber, having it in excess can lead to gas, bloating, and diarrhea. This is especially true if you are not used to eating a lot of fiber.
Where To Buy Fonio?
You can find fonio in health food stores. Several brands of fonio can be purchased online through various sites including Amazon.