Fonio is being touted as the next quinoa in the specialty grains market. What is it though? Fonio (Digitaria exilis) is an ancient grain that grows in small pockets throughout West Africa. It starts out looking like a field of green grass, and at its maturity looks like hay. It is then harvested with traditionally made hand tools, hand processed to remove the seed from the husk and washed and dried thoroughly. The grain itself is the smallest in the millet family, with nearly 2000 grains per gram! It is used traditionally as a staple side dish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a variety of preparations.
Fonio is the most ancient of grains, and plays a large role in the mythology and tradition of numerous African ethnic groups. The Dogon people of Mali believe that the Universe was created from a single grain of fonio.
Fonio has never been a “big name” item in the states until it was recently re-discovered by Foodies and Health Care Practitioners. Fonio is poised to sit atop the growing market for gluten-free, low-glycemic cereals. Fonio has a very mild flavor, and the texture can vary depending on how you cook it.
- Rich in Methionine, an amino acid vital to human health and deficient in today’s major cereals such as wheat, rice, maize, sorghum, barley, and rye. Methionine helps the liver to process fat.
- Rich in Cysteine: a major constituent of the proteins that make up our hair, nails, and skin, and is involved in major detoxification processes in the body.
- PROTEIN is 2x higher in methionine than egg protein, an essential amino acid that the human body cannot synthesize, making it important to our health to get it from whole food source.
- GLUTEN-FREE: It does not contain any glutenin or gliadin, making it the perfect replacement for grains otherwise excluded from a gluten-free diet.
- DIABETIC FRIENDLY: Carbohydrates are absorbed slowly, producing small fluctuations in our blood glucose and insulin levels. This also reduces the risk of heart disease.
- MINERAL RICH: magnesium, zinc, manganese, thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), calcium, and phosphorous.
Fonio is one of the most nutritious grains on the market, with lots of added benefits! Now that you know a little bit about where it comes from, how it’s grown, and why it’s the talk of the town, click here to see how to cook with it: FONIO RECIPES
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA