Officially there is no scientific definition of a super food. Although it is generally accepted that superfoods are a nutrient-rich foods which are considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being. The super foods are said to contain contain high levels of much-needed vitamins and minerals.
The super foods may also be a source of antioxidants, substances that shield our bodies from cell damage and help prevent disease. Some even claim the these foods can slow the ageing process.
We look at 10 African Super Foods that are packed with serious nutritional power that you must consider eating and drinking right now.
Teff is mostly grown in Ethiopia and Eritrea. It is said to be the creme de la creme of the grains. If it was a 100 meter race this one would be the Usain bolt. Teff is said to be rich in calcium, iron and protein, also gluten-free, which makes it very lucrative right now on the world market.
Fonio is native to the West African Sahel, it is a drought-resistant grain related to millet, that is high in amino acids and is a favourite in salads, stews and porridges. It’s rising in popularity among foodies in big cities in the west.
Amaranth is known by various names in Africa – mchicha in Swahili, terere among the Gikuyu, Meru and Embu of Kenya, doodo in Uganda and shoko in Yoruba, both the leaves and grain of amaranth are used as food. Amaranth grain contains comparatively more protein than cereals like rice, sorghum and rye; its nutritional profile is comparable to wheat germ and oats.
Moringa is native to Africa and South Asia, all parts of the moringa tree namely the bark, pods, leaves, nuts, seeds, tubers, roots, and flowers are edible. Nothing goes to waste.
The leaves are used fresh or dried and ground into powder, and are high in protein, calcium, iron, Vitamin C and Vitamin A; some estimates show that gram-for-gram, moringa contains twice the protein of yoghurt, four times the calcium of milk, seven times the Vitamin C of oranges and 25 times the iron of spinach.
5. Pumpkin leaves
Pumpkin leaves are used as food all over Africa and form a common part of the diet when available. Leaves can be eaten fresh or dried.
Pumpkin leaves contain a healthy amount of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium, and iron, as well as folate, potassium, and some of the B-vitamins.
6. Baobab fruit
The baobab tree is mainly recognisable in eastern and southern Africa’s savannahs, and its fruit provides nutrition to both humans and many other animals, from birds to honey bees. Baobab fruit is particularly high in antioxidants, as well as fibre (10 times the fibre of apples), potassium, magnesium and iron.
Hibiscus tea is rich in antioxidants minerals and vitamin C, and served hot it loses a bit of its characteristic sour. It can also be served chilled with ice.
Native to tropical Africa and particularly well known for its sweet-and-sour flavour, tamarind (aka ukwaju in Swahili) can be used to make juice, and is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Its sticky pulp is a rich source of dietary fibre; 100 g of fruit pulp provides 5.1 or over 13% of the dietary fibre that you typically need in a day.
Tamarind is particularly useful for restoring electrolyte imbalance when you’re experiencing dehydration, which is why many East African coastal communities will serve a glass of ukwaju to a guest coming in from a hot day – or as a hangover remedy. I can see why Africans might make money from exporting this plant.
Most of us know the humble coconut, dark on the outside white on the inside. The coconut does have some serious health benefits. Containing unique fatty-acid combinations that promote healthy brain function. protein-containing coconut milk aids the digestive system, is a natural antiviral, and boosts skin health. Like tamarind, coconut water is a great electrolytic drink, rehydrating the body at a cellular level.
The leaves from Kenkiliba shrub, found in the Sahel, are mainly used to make an infusion tea that is believed to be a digestive detoxifier and cure-all, common in Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Guinea and the Gambia.
kenkiliba is also known as a digestive stimulant