By Prof. Raphael Nyarkotey Obu
A recent study by Yusuf and Obaghwarhievwo (2021) confirmed that fura da nono drink has nutritional and medicinal value. This is not surprising that India has taken the campaign of millet consumption to a different level.
The resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on 3 March 2021 decided to declare 2023 as the International Year of Millets. Hence, the India High Commission in Ghana is on an awareness campaign to promote millet-based diets in Ghana. For many years, India was the world’s major producer of millet. However, in recent years, millet production has increased dramatically in Africa.
In India, millet is widely known as Ragi or Machin, they are dark brown grains with fiber and iron-rich husk intact used for different dishes like idli, dosas, roti, ragimudde, and ragi malt in India.
In addition to home cooking, millet is used to make Chinese white spirit or syrup, congee very popular staple food in Chinese cuisine, which could be served as staples just like dumplings, steamed rice, Chinese bread, and steamed buns
In Nigeria, millet is commonly made up of “Fura da nono” which simply means “simple milk and millet gruel” the popular African cold gruel produced and consumed mostly in the northern part of Nigeria.
But the history of fura de nunu will be traced back to Ghana. One of the common street food in Ghana “Hausa Koko” is made from millet with a few local spices added to give it a particular taste and colour.
“Fura da Nono”as the Hausas call it or “Fura de nunu”, is mostly made by Fulanis.In this article and subsequent ones, I will highlight the numerous benefits of a locally millet-based diet for public awareness. In this current write-up, the focus is on the local fura. The benefits of furaare derived from its ingredient millet.
For instance, fura is antioxidant Loaded. This is supported by six studies (Devi et al. 2016; Kumari et al. 2017; Pizino et al. 2017; Xiang et al. 2019; Chandrasekara and Shahidi, 2010) that confirmed that millet is loaded with phenolic compounds, specifically ferulic acid and catechins. They work as antioxidants to guard the body against harmful oxidative stress.
Other studies in mice( Zduńska et al. 2017 Liu et al. 2017) correlate ferulic acid to fast wound healing, skin protection, and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been established that these catechins bind to heavy metals, and avert poisoning our bloodstream ( Chandrasekaraand Shahidi, 2010; Bernatoniene and Kopustinskiene, 2018).
Kumari et al.(2017) explained that though all millet types are loaded with antioxidants, the specific ones with a darker color such as proso, and foxtail millet are superior juxtaposed to those with white or yellow counterparts.
Fura also controls blood sugar levels,two studies(Devi et al. 2016; Kam et al.2016) found that millet is loaded with fiber and non-starchy polysaccharides, two types of undigestible carbs that are likely to control blood sugar levels.
Another newsworthy is that two studies for instance (Dias-Martins et al. 2018; Narayanan et al. 2016) found that millet is capable of controlling blood sugar due to its low glycemic index (GI), which means that when you eat a millet diet, there is no worry of blood sugar rising. Hence, diabetics can eat a millet- diet once the other combined ingredients are diabetics friendly.
This was demonstrated in one human study by Narayanan et al. (2016) where 105 people with type 2 diabetes took part. The researchers found that using a millet-based diet to replace a rice-based breakfast reduced blood sugar levels after the meal.
Another human study of 64 people for a 12-week duration with prediabetes also reported the same findings. After eating 1/3 cup (50 grams) of foxtail millet per day, the participants’ blood sugar was reduced in both fasting and random blood sugar levels, and decrease in insulin resistance.
Brown et al.(2016) explained that insulin resistance is a marker for type 2 diabetes. This normally happens when you decide to yield to the hormone insulin, which regulates blood sugar. Finally, Shobana et al.(2010) 6-week study in rats with diabetes found that when the animals were given, a diet that contains 20% finger millet resulted in lowering fasting blood sugar and a drop in triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
Fura Lowers cholesterol,Devi et al.(2016) study found that millet is loaded with soluble fiber, and this in turn produces a sticky material in the gut. This helps bind fats and lowered cholesterol levels. This was confirmed in one rat study by Lee et al.(2010) which states that rats fed foxtail and proso millet triglyceride levels decreased drastically juxtaposed with the control group.
Also, millet protein could lower cholesterol. This was also demonstrated in one mice study by Nishizawa et al.(2009) with type 2 diabetes. The mice were fed a high-fat diet with millet protein concentrate. Their result found a decrease in triglyceride levels and a drastic improvement in adiponectin and HDL (good) cholesterol levels, juxtaposed with the control group.
Two studies(Lihn et al. 2005; Fang et al. 2018) found that the hormone adiponectin with an anti-inflammatory effect aids heart health and inspires fatty acid oxidation. The levels are normally decreased in those with obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Fura is gluten-free diet,three studies(Dias-Martinset al. 2018; Devi et al. 2014; Niro et al. 2019)confirmed that millet is a gluten-free grain, hence, it is a good option for those with celiac disease or those following a gluten-free diet.
Gurja et al. (2012) found that gluten is a protein that is found naturally in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. However, those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity must stay away as it causes harmful digestive symptoms, such as diarrhea and nutrient malabsorption. Hence, it is advisable that in purchasing millet read the product label and search for those certified gluten-free.
One study by Boncompagni et al.(2018)found that millet contains antinutrients — compounds that block or lower your body’s absorption of other nutrients and may lead to deficiencies. Phytic acid is one such compound that interferes with potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium uptake. This notwithstanding, once your diet is balanced, there is no problem. Goitrogenic polyphenols are another compound that is likely to damage thyroid function, causing goiter — an enlargement of the thyroid gland that results in neck swelling.
However, this effect is related only to excess polyphenol intake. Two studies(Boncompagni et al. 2018;Gonçalves et al. 2017) for instance, found that goiter was found when millet provided 74% of a person’s daily calories, compared with only 37% of their daily calories. This concern can be addressed by soaking it overnight at room temperature, then draining and rinsing it before cooking(Singh, 2016). Additionally, sprouting reduces antinutrient content.
Science has demonstrated the numerous health benefits when we eat fura, a millet-based diet. For instance, Ugare et al. (2015) also found that millet is a low glycemic index diet. Their study found dehulled(50.0) and heat treated(41.7) barnyard millet beneficial for type-II diabetics. It’s also an alkaline food, which means that it can digest easily, a good option for those with sensitive stomachs.
Fura also has many nutrients as confirmed by the US Department of Agriculture, one cup (174 grams) of cooked millet packs has the following :
• Calories: 207
• Carbs: 41 grams
• Fiber: 2.2 grams
• Protein: 6 grams
• Fat: 1.7 grams
• Phosphorus: 25% of the Daily Value (DV)
• Magnesium: 19% of the DV
• Folate: 8% of the DV
• Iron: 6% of the DV
Also, three studies (Singh, 2,016; Dias-Martins et al.2018; Wu, 2009) found that fura gives more essential amino acids as compared to other cereals and they are the building blocks of protein.
Another interesting thing is that fura can take the bragging right as cereal with abundant calcium content giving the body 13% of the daily value per 1 cooked cup (100 grams)( Singh, 2016; Devi et al. 2014; Shobana et al. 2013). As you are aware, the human body needs calcium for good bone health, blood vessel and muscular contractions, and proper nerve function.
Prof. Nyarkotey has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations to justify his write-ups. My articles are for educational purposes and do not serve as Medical advice for Treatment. I aim to educate the public about evidence-based scientific Naturopathic Therapies.
The writer is a Professor of Naturopathic Healthcare, President, of Nyarkotey College of Holistic Medicine & Technology (NUCHMT)/African Naturopathic Foundation. E-mail: [email protected]. For more information, contact: Stephanie(PRO)on 0244433553