Nigeria is quite a unique location for those who live here, have lived here or had at least once in their lifetimes visited here. From the cuisine to all sorts of cultures, Nigeria is truly God’s gift to the World so to speak. Due to the fact that African foods in general and Nigerian foods, in particular, have a higher starch content and higher calories as a result, special care has to be taken for those who are considering losing weight and are either going on a diet or are actually on one.
However, there is good news! Unprocessed starchy foods, for example, offer lower calories and starch in terms of quantity.
The key to losing weight in Africa and in Nigeria is to make sure that you have a low calorie but a balanced diet that can take care of all your nutritional needs.
The most important thing that you must realize is that getting your calorie consumption right is just one of many things which you must take into account. You must also consider the fact that starch is an important part of your diet. What you are seeking to avoid is fat-resistant starch and as such, you must as a matter of necessity seek for starchy foods that have low-fat content.
The same principle applies when you’re using oils as well. Only in this case you are considering oils that have lower concentrations of cholesterol. So, here is the list of Nigeria foods that you can enjoy without the fear of unhealthy weight gain:
Believe it or not, plantain though starchy contains fat-resistant starch. Their cousin bananas have 25g of carbs per 100g whilst the plantains themselves contain 30g carbs per 100g. They can be eaten fried, roasted (boli) or boiled with good stew. They are also good for the maintenance of low blood sugar.
2. Brown Rice
Popularly known as ofada, brown rice is low in density and quite rich in fiber. It has far fewer carbohydrates than white rice and is very locally available. If you make this with stew, you can indeed rest assured that you have a healthy alternative to white rice for your weight loss regimen.
You can take brown rice with all kinds of stews which can be very healthy if vegetables are added to the mix. This brings us to our next food.
Yes, vegetables are known to be low in carbohydrates and rich in minerals. The truth is that most people do not take veggies simply because as Africans we have become used to our meats and stews which only started becoming a feeding trend in the early years of the twentieth century.
Vegetables eaten raw or in soups provide the body with excellent fiber, protein in some cases (kale which is available from Jos) and starch (such as peas, broccoli, and spinach). Having a high vegetable-based diet will also enable you to obtain all the necessary minerals required to maintain a healthy immune system.
Beans are an important source of essential amino acids required for the human body to function effectively. Beans have high fiber content, they are rich in Vitamin B, magnesium, zinc and potassium. Beans and other legumes are known to produce the weight loss reactions that occur with the consumption of other foods used in weight loss diet regimens without the fatigue, cravings or other reactions that usually occur when consuming such.
Beans are low in carbs and have a low glycemic index (glycemic index refers to the ranking of carbohydrates in food and how they affect blood glucose levels; the higher the glycemic index, the higher the propensity for high blood glucose levels). Beans may look ordinary, but they work wonders when it comes to weight loss! They are small but mighty!
5. Digitalis Exilis (Acha or Fonio)
This is a miracle plant that grows mostly in the North Central part of Nigeria; Plateau State and parts of Southern Kaduna State to be precise. Known in local parlance as “Acha”, digitalis is in not so many words a miracle wonder grain that contains so many nutrients and minerals that it is one of the most nutritious gains that are currently in existence.
It is known to contain the amino acids Methione and Cystine. It also contains the vitamins B1 and B2 and is reputed to contain high levels of zinc, manganese, phosphorous and calcium.
Digitalis has a low glycemic index and is effective in the dietary management needs of those who are suffering from heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Digitalis is also very effective in weight loss as it does have non-fattening carbohydrates and it provides the required calorie requirements without the fattening effects of other carbohydrates that Nigerians usually consume.
Fishes are usually known for their high protein value. They give the consumer the required amino acids for healthy body function. However, fishes also contain the omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids which are responsible for proper brain function.
Fish are also known to contain low quantities of saturated animal fats which are the “bad” animal fats responsible for weight gain.
Lemons are known to have fat burning properties. As a fruit, lemons have the compounds that help one to have trimmed abs and firmer muscles in all the right places.
Watermelons are known to reduce fats in the human body; especially belly fat. However, watermelons are great as a treat and also provide fiber; keeping you full in between meals.
9. African Mango Seed (Ogbono)
You may never have realized it, but ogbono that we have taken for granted is a very important food that is used in weight loss. Known scientifically as Irvingia Garbonensis, ogbono inhibits the absorption of sugar in the body by limiting the activities of an enzyme called Amylase which is responsible for the absorption of sugar in the human body.
Also, ogbono increases the levels of leptin; which is a hormone responsible for appetite in the body! Ogbono also inhibits an enzyme referred to as glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase which is responsible for converting blood sugar into fat.
Learning to cook stews with minimal additives is also another powerful way and method for the reduction of the calories in your foods. Cooking without oils is one method of achieving this. Cooking with oils that have minimal levels of fats are also encouraged.
Do you know of other Nigeria foods that are known for weight loss?
How do you use them in your diet? Please share in the comments below!
Written by: Christopher Haruna Hamman is a strategist, Writer, and Entrepreneur. He also writes extensively for internet, publishing, film, and television.