You probably know that Ghanaian foods are delicious, correct? But did you ever wonder about the health benefits or adverse effects of some of the foods you crave for? It’s essential to consider the health benefits of some of the foods we eat to know whether to reduce intake or consume more.
On the one hand, due to one’s medical history, some foods may be good to consume or not. Also, if you’re a pregnant woman, you know some foods are beneficial to pregnant women as they provide the required nutrients.
So for your needs, this article takes an in-depth look at some popular Ghanaian foods and their health benefits. Let’s get right into it!
10 Popular Ghanaian Foods and their Health Benefits
Kenkey is one of the main foods consumed in Ghana. It is made from corn and has two types which are; Ga Kenkey and Fante Kenkey. Ga Kenkey is with the Akan, Ewe, and the Greater Accra Region, while Fante Kenkey is mostly produced in the Western and Central Regions of Ghana.
According to studies, Kenkey contains antioxidants and vital vitamins such as vitamin A, B, C, and E. The B vitamin contains riboflavin, pantothenic acid, thiamine, niacin, and folates. These nutrients may help:
- Lower blood pressure and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Protects the body from cancer, diabetes, and heart disease as it contains phytochemicals and antioxidants that protect the body from ravages of free radicals and oxidative stress.
- Combat fat by lowering blood cholesterol levels.
- Protect you from hemorrhoids and constipation.
Light soup is the Ghanaian version of Nigeria’s pepper soup. It is made with pepper, tomatoes, fish as well as other spices.
Tomatoes are packed with several nutrients that are quite beneficial to human health. Specifically, tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, potassium, vitamin K, and folate. Studies suggest that tomatoes can prevent heart disease and cancer. With tomatoes being one of the major ingredients of light soup, you do enjoy the health benefits of tomatoes.
Also, fish contain a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids and other vital vitamins—vitamin D and B2. Fish is also linked with having a considerable amount of calcium and phosphorus. These nutrients in fish can help prevent heart disease, boost brain health, and more.
Waakye is a popular Ghanaian food. It is a mixture of rice and beans and is found in most streets of Accra, Ghana’s capital city, and other parts of Ghana. It is prepared with sorghum bicolor leaves, which give it a highly distinctive color. This highly nutritious meal is served with other foods such as avocado, spaghetti, garri, and fried plantain.
The nutritional components of waakye include antioxidants that prevent free radical damage and thus help the body to maintain optimum health and well-being. It also helps to provide much-needed protection against diseases such as obesity, hypertension, cancer, coronary heart disease type 2 diabetes, which are caused by oxidative stress.
Banku and Tilapia
Banku, a mix of cassava dough and fermented corn with diced tomatoes, onions, and spicy hot pepper, is a Ghanaian dish you do enjoy. It is one of the main dishes of the Ghanaian people.
Banku eaten with tilapia fish is a wonderful combination anytime. Asides the delicious taste it leaves in the mouth; it is also a nutritious diet. It contains carbohydrates that the body needs daily. Tilapia fish is an excellent source of protein.
Tilapia is also rich in phosphorus, potassium, selenium, vitamin B12, and niacin, which are highly essential nutrients the body needs.
In northern Ghana, herbs, grains, and meat are majorly used in cooking, as these are the main food products of that area. Tuo Zaafi is very similar to banku though it is less sticky and quite soft. It is made by adding little cassava to corn dough.
One major distinguishing feature of Tuo Zaafi, which has made it a popular Nationwide meal, is that high and rare herbs are used in making its accompanying soup. These herbs include Ayoyo and dawadawa leaves. These leaves are good sources of protein, data, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and some vitamin C.
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Kelewele is a highly popular Ghanaian side dish. Though peppery, it is an instant favorite for anyone who tries it even for the first time. It is made by frying soft plantain that has been deeply soaked in a mixture of garlic, ginger, and peppers.
Plantains are very rich sources of minerals, vitamins, and complex carbohydrates and are very much easily digestible. It also contains antioxidants that protect the body against free radical damage that is readily associated with heart diseases, some types of cancer, and aging.
If you are not able to prepare Kelewele at home, it is easy to get in food joints, as it’s usually sold as a side dish or snack.
Omo tuo is a very easy to prepare meal with a few ingredients. It is also known as rice balls as it is made from white rice. Though mainly a dish for the Akan tribe ( a tribe in Ghana), it is a meal that is eaten in almost every part of Ghana today. It is eaten with palm nut soup or groundnut soup with lots of meat and/or fish.
The palm nut soup is very rich in vitamins, essential oils, and minerals, which are good for your health.
Kontomire soup popularly referred to as “ebunu ebunu” or “green green” is a special delicacy with so much flavor and made from mushrooms, snails, cocoyam leaves, and smoked fish. The cocoyam leaves give the kontomire soup its green color. It is a traditional dish of the Akan people who usually eat it with boiled ripe plantains, rice or fufu.
The cocoyam leaves, which are rich in vitamin A and vitamin C, are perfect for the eyes to remain healthy and prevent various eye diseases such as cataract, myopia, and blindness.
Red-red, a filling traditional dish in Ghana, is a dish that consists of cowpea beans boiled to make a broth and then served with soft fried plantains and palm oil. In making red-red, spices are used sparingly at its main taste comes from the various ingredients it is served with. It can also be dished alongside garri to make it even more hearty. Red-red is also a perfect choice for vegetarians as no animal products are used in its cooking.
The flavonoids present in the cowpea beans can help decrease the risk of cancer and heart disease. Blood cholesterol levels are also drastically reduced due to the presence of phytosterols present in legumes. It is also a much-needed source of iron.
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Garden Egg Stew
Garden egg stew is a very popular Ghanaian dish. Its main ingredient is the garden egg (also known as African eggplant). Although the eggplant is primarily fruit, it is prepared deliciously as a vegetable in this stew, combined with onions, peppers, tomatoes, palm oil, shrimp or dried fish, and seasonings such as nutmeg and ginger. The stew is mostly served for lunch or dinner and accompanied by boiled plantains.
The vitamin C, fiber, vitamin B-6, potassium, and antioxidants present in garden egg all support heart health.
As you can see, these Ghanaian foods contain essential nutrients that support your health in various ways. However, you may wonder if any of these foods have any side effects. While there is no scientifically backed side effect associated with any of these foods, you want to consume in moderation to avoid overeating effects.
Also, if you’re wondering if these Ghanaian foods are suitable for a pregnant woman, or you have a medical history that prevents you from eating some meals, you should seek guidance from a nutritionist or your physician.