10 Popular South African Dishes and their Health Impacts

Ever considered the health benefits of the foods you consume? It’s imperative to know how beneficial the foods you consume are to your body. This should help you know whether you need more of the food. In this article, we’ve beamed our focus on South African dishes to find out their nutritional and overall health benefits.

Are you one that craves for South African dishes more than any other? You’ll surely find this article useful—read below the health benefits of 10 popular South African foods.

Popular South African Dishes and their Health Benefits

1. Chakalaka

South African Dishes
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Chakalaka is one of South Africa’s main dishes. It’s a simple vegetable dish made of beans, spices, carrots, green peppers, tomatoes, and onions, and is often served cold. It is very simple and easy to bake.

A bowl of chakalaka is packed with immense health benefits. Here are some of the health benefits associated with this meal:

  • The lycopene present in tomatoes is perfect for your heart and helps to prevent prostate cancer.
  • Carrots are good for your colon, eyes, and heart, as they have many anti-cancer benefits.
  • Onions contain chromium—which helps improve how your body manages sugar. It also reduces the risk of heart attack and protects you against cancer.
  • Green pepper contains vitamin C, which helps strengthen your immune system. It is also good for digestion as it is full of fiber and also helps to prevent certain eye ailments.

2. Bobotie

South African Dishes
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Bobotie is majorly classified as a favorite dinner time dish. It consists of mince, spices, an egg-based topping, and traditionally sultanas or raisins, which are added to the entire mixture. This dish has a delightful taste, and it also includes turmeric, curry, and sometimes almonds.

Eating bobotie helps in fighting disease, increases immunity in the body system, and helps reduce inflammation. It also provides necessary iron and protein, which helps your organs and muscles function at maximum capacity.

3. Biltong and Droewors

South African Food
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Before fridges were invented, the indigenous tribes of South Africa used dry curing to preserve meat. Biltong (air-dried meat that is thinly sliced) and droewors (air-dried sausage) are made from beef and are usually eaten as snacks.

This meat is usually smoked in a mixture of sugar, salt, vinegar, and spices such as pepper and coriander and then hung to dry. This particular meal is highly prized by many health enthusiasts for its low fat content and high protein. In present times, producers of biltong and droewors add flavorings such as garlic or chili to the meat.

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4. Boerewors

Foods in Zimbabwe

Boerewors is a merger of two words from two different languages. ‘Boer’ meaning farmer is an Afrikaans word while ‘wors’ is a Dutch word meaning sausage.

This traditional South African sausage is made from beef, mixed with either lamb or pork, and a mixture of spices. They are cooked on a braai and served in a coiled shape very similar to the Cumberland sausage.

Boerewors contain protein, which fulfills highly critical functions such as the essential production and maintenance of enzymes, tissues, certain vitamins, neurotransmitters, hormones, and the body’s immune system.

5. Melktert

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Melktert is very similar to the Portuguese pasteis de nata or British custard tart. It consists of a pastry case containing sugar, eggs, and milk, which is then thickened with a moderate amount of flour. This finished tart is usually dusted with cinnamon. As a real South African comfort food, it is mostly served as a dessert, and also available in many bakeries. Melktert contains essential vitamins the body needs for effective functioning such as vitamins A, B-12, C, D, E, as well as protein and cholesterol. All of these help in building a strong and healthy body.

6. Bunny Chow

South African Dishes
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Bunny chow is a street stall staple that originates from Durban, which is now spread across the length and breadth of South Africa. The Indian immigrant community in Durban created this food basically to serve as an on-the-go lunch meal to the working class. Bunny chow is simply a hollowed loaf of white bread filled with pork or chicken curry.

Research has it that bunny chow is extremely unhealthy as it could lead to unnecessary weight gain and other health-related issues. So, watch how much you consume this.

7. Bredie

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Looking for a tasty traditional South African meal? You do consider the tomato bredie. It’s a hearty dish that is majorly enjoyed when there’s a chill in the air. The name bredie is actually an old Cape name for a dish of vegetables and meat cooked together so that the flavors can mix. The result is a thick and full-bodied rich gravy obtained by using meat coupled with a fair amount of fat and bone, rolling it in flour, browning it, and then adding the vegetables to the mixture. If left for a day or two before being eaten, the flavor improves considerably. Different types of vegetables are used, such as cabbage, pumpkin, green bean, tomatoes, or waterblommetjie—a native South African vegetable.

Eating tomato bredie helps men in fighting colon cancer. It also contains antioxidant properties that fight free radicals in your body.

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8. Amadumbe

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Amadumbe, also known as the potato of the tropics, is also referred to as madumbis, dasheen, taro, or mufhongwe. It is, however, not related to the well-known potato. Like sweet potatoes or the regular potatoes, it can be roasted, boiled, or grilled and served as chips, mash, or in stews. The stems or leaves are sometimes eaten like spinach as they provide a supplement to maize.

Amadumbe is highly nutritious as it could help:

  • Lower blood sugar levels
  • Improve digestion
  • Increase blood circulation
  • Prevent heart disease
  • Decrease blood pressure

9. Vetkoek

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Also known as amagwinya, vetkoek is a traditional South African fried dough bread. It is similar to the Dutch oliebol, the Mexican sopapillas, and the Caribbean Johnny cake. Vetkoek simply means “fat cake” in the Afrikaans tongue.

It is a deep-fried yeast buns served as a snack, for breakfast or lunch. It is usually eaten together with minced curry, cheese, or apricot jam. Vetkoek contains fat and is produced from refined flour, which is very high in carbohydrates—and can result in stunted growth for kids and as well make them obese.

ALSO READ: 10 Popular Vegetables in Africa

10. Malva Pudding

South African Foods
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Malva pudding is a delightful pudding with Dutch origins. It is a sticky and sweet baked sponge pudding containing apricot jam and then served smothered in a steamy cream sauce. One unique thing about this Malva pudding is that you can be more creative by including more ingredients like nuts, wines, and fruits.

Malva pudding is not advised to be eaten every time as it contains too much sugar, which can be detrimental to healthy living.