If you have never tried fonio grain, you are not alone. A few weeks ago, a Queen named Elizabeth asked me why Fonio grain was not on our list of Melanin diet foods.
The answer was that I never suggest items that I have not personally tried and gotten benefit from – and I had never tried or even heard of fonio grain. Now that I have tried it, I am a true believer.
Here is what I learned about fonio along with 7 reasons you should throw out white rice and replace it with this African ancient grain!
What Is Fonio Grain?
Fonio is a seriously important grain grown indigenously on the west coast of Africa. It can be found in Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria (where it is called acha), Sierra Leone, Liberia, and other nearby nations. Our Ancestors have been cultivating fonio more than 5,000 years, making it one of Africa’s oldest cultivated cereal crops.
Fonio is so important that the Dogon of Mali use the fonio grain as a metaphor for the creation of the universe. Archeologists have found fonio buried in tombs inside the pyramids of Kemet, indicating its importance in the Kemetic diet. And many other indigenous African societies use the grain as an offering for traditional spiritual ceremonies.
But those reasons are not why we call fonio an ‘ancient grain’. The term means that fonio has not changed much over the last several hundred years. It is the same non-GMO and pesticide free grain that the Pharaohs ate. And because fonio is able to grow in rough soil with a minimum amount of irrigation, it is ore sustainable and has a much smaller carbon footprint than other crops.
Fonio belongs to the millet family of grain. These are small seeded grasses that work well in porridges or can be ground up to make bread or pasta.
These factors alone make fonio grain a crucial part of the African diet. And under the right circumstances, this grain could change the economic destiny of West Africa. Check out this Youtube video from Senegalese Chef Pierre Thiam on how adding fonio grain to your diet can help build African economies.
Fonio has a rich, nutty flavor that is so good it is called “food for royalty” and served to guests of honor in Senegal. And because the seeds are so small, it has the texture of couscous or grits.
Fonio Grain Health Benefits
Because it is plant based, fonio is naturally vegan. And unlike many other grains (including Kamut), fonio is gluten free – an important fact since gluten can be responsible for inflammation, and we know that inflammation is a major source of disease.
Aside from the fact that it is vegan and gluten free, fonio grain is packed with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Here are 8 ways that eating fonio could could lead to a longer, healthier, and more energetic life:
1. Fonio grain supports strong, healthy muscle growth: Getting rid of animal protein doesn’t mean you sacrifice protein altogether. Your body needs protein – and lots of it – to build your bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Fonio contains between 8.05 – 12 grams of protein per cup. Thats more than a cup of milk!
2. Fonio grain gives you long lasting energy: Fonio grain contains around 3.6 calories per gram and contains high levels of iron, folic acid, and aminos. When these nutrients and minerals work together, they help you to maintain a healthy metabolism. And since fonio grain digests slowly, it helps you sustain higher energy levels all day long.
3. Fonio is perfect for diabetes: Fonio has long been used as diabetic friendly food because it is low in glycemic index. And if you are not diabetic, you might want to make changes to your diet now to make sure you are not in the future. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
A Malian friend told me a few years ago that…he figured he wouldn’t even have developed type II diabetes had he continued eating the local foods [like fonio] that his grandmother and mother prepared when he was growing up. – Source
4. Fonio grain supports women’s health: According to Atacora, women can benefit from Fonio in so many ways. The grain is full of amino acids (more than that of quinoa) and iron that the blood needs to function at healthy levels. This can reduce the chances or symptoms of anemia. Fonio helps form cartilage while strengthening hair and nails. The surplus of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids can decrease the effects of aging. Fonio increases liver function and is a great natural detoxifier.
5. Fonio may support healthier looking hair, skin, and nails: Fonio is rich in methionine and cysteine – two aminos that play important roles in skin, hair and nail health. Methionine has an anti-aging effect on the skin, reducing the rate of aging, while Cysteine helps wounds to heal and keeps the skin healthy.
6. Fonio grain is a natural detoxifying food: Research shows that cysteine – the amino acid mentioned above – may have a role in detoxification. Fonio also helps liver function which in turn helps in the detoxing process. Fonio has been proven to help those who are detoxifying from dietary gluten as well.
7. Fonio can help you lose weight: According to Oba Foods, “Because of its low glycemic index and its high fibre content, Fonio can also be a very useful food to eat when you are trying to lose some weight. It will fill you up fast and keep you feeling full for some time. Its steady release of energy will also help to avoid food cravings after a meal as well.”
Quick Fonio Nutrition Facts Per Cup
- 8 – 12 grams of protein
- 2g fat
- 4g fiber (16% recommended daily value)
- Amino Acids:
- Methionine 189%
- Leucine 127%
- Valine 90-100%
- Tryptophan 90-100%
- Phenylalanine 90-100%
- Isoleucine 72%
- Lysine 45%
How To Cook Fonio Grain
This very short video shows you how to cook fonio. It comes from one of the suppliers that I have personally vetted and tried. You might find out that cooking fonio is much easier than rice!
Where To Buy Fonio Grain
Fonio grain is shipped from West Africa to markets all over the world. The easiest way to get yours is Amazon. We have vetted the sellers below to make sure they are African. Here are three I have tried and three others that got the best reviews.
Fonio about 6 minutes to cook, and tastes better than what you are already eating. So replace your rice, grits, and white bread with a real, alkaline approved supergrain. Not only are you helping your people – you are helping yourself!