Garri and the Calorie Wahala – Update on Previous Post

Thanks to everyone who liked, commented and shared my previous post about Garri. I received some feedback from people who were concerned about the calorie content they see online for Garri, which at 300 calories per 100 g was way too high.

Now those of you who know me know that I’m not so much of a ‘calorie counter’. This is because a calorie is the amount of potential energy (not fat) we get from a given food and given that energy needs will differ from individual to individual (depending on stage of life, location (hot or cold climate), state of health etc) guideline information needs to be used carefully. However, I have decided to do this post for the benefit of those who might be interested in knowing more about calorie contents of foods. 🙂

The calorie information found online about Garri can be misleading, this is because most website make no distinction as to the type of Garri which is very important. If we do a quick search on the internet what you might find is information like this one which just says Garri.

one

Source: (https://www.fatsecret.com/Diary.aspx?pa=fjrd&rid=73594)

However, after a bit of research,  I found this website which differentiate between different grades of Garri.

two

Source: http://www.caloriecount.com/calories-Garri-i332701

three

Source: http://www.caloriecount.com/calories-adom-foods-gari-flour-i260439

Looking at the two tables we see a significant difference in the calorie content. The grade C one has 155 calories per 100g while grade D has 360 calories. Another difference is the carbohydrate content which is 87.3 g for grace D and 27 g for grace C. Also the vitamin C is 35% for grade C and 0% for grade D while fibre content is 6% for grade C and 0% for Grade D.

The website doesn’t say what Grade D or C is but if the principle that fermentation reduces carbohydrate count is true (which I believe it is) then I believe that the grade C is likely to be a variant of Garri that has undergone a longer fermentation process similar to that of Ijebu Garri.

Also fermentation improves the ascorbic acid/vitamin C content of foods and given the sour taste of Ijebu Garri (which suggest the presence of ascorbic acid/vitamin C) then I believe grade C is likely to be a variant similar to Ijebu Garri.

Body Ecology states “fermented vegetables give you a one-shot double whammy: vitamin C, and microflora which help you better absorb not just vitamin C, but all the nutrients your body needs!”

This statement is in line with a research carried out by C.I. Owuamanam et al (2010) and titled ‘Nutritional Evaluation of Garri Diets from Varying Fermentation Time Using Animal Model’. The research involved feeding groups of rats a diet of Garri which was fermented for 0h, 24h, 48h and 72h. The result showed that level of dietary cyanide reduced significantly the longer the fermentation time. As a result nutrient absorption was optimised and highest with rats fed on the 72h fermented Garri.

Ijebu Garri is left to ferment for at least 7 days and sometimes more which means that the dietary cyanide is reduced beyond the results of this research. This is in addition to lowering carbohydrate count, optimising vitamin C content as well as probiotic and prebiotic benefits.

Another issue I find interesting and which I have been looking into recently is a comparative analysis of the calorie content in different swallows compared to Ijebu Garri. Here I have just two such examples but hope to do a broader research in the future. (watch this space) 🙂

First let us look at Wheat Flour, this has 372 calories, which is 140% more calories than Grade C Garri (Ijebu Garri)

four

Next we have semolina which has 340 calories per 100g, which is 119% higher calorie content.

five

Now, it can be argued that these foods are higher in other nutrients such as potassium or Protein. However Garri (Eba) is seldom eaten on its own, I believe the rich array of soups that accompany it more than make up for what it lacks in terms of nutrients, without the added calories.

So, am I saying don’t eat wheat, semolina or other types of Garri? Not at all, the aim here is for us to make informed decisions but also to come to appreciate the many benefits of our indigenous diet. I always say ‘Eat from and for your location’, the diet that has helped to sustain our ancestors cannot all of a sudden become redundant. It is our heritage and we must protect it. 🙂

Remember all things in moderation, the fact that a food is healthy doesn’t mean we should over indulge. 🙂

Another point I forgot to mention is that I have for many years now used Ijebu Garri as a cure for simple diarrhea. I was pleased when my ‘Doctor’ friend after reading my previous post confirmed that she recommends it to patients “after a bout of diarrhea to restore microbial balance” 🙂

Please do consult your health provider/dietician/nutritionist before making changes to your diet.

If you have found this useful, don’t forget to like, comment and share you might be saving a life! 🙂

Advertisements

Grandma’s Legacy – Ijebu Garri and Why You Should be Eating it for Optimum Health

Ijebu Ewe so o (greetings in Ijebu)

1092453_garri_jpg3480c9211919a70d881165b017b07ec1

Today I am excited to share the wonderful health benefits of Ijebu-Garri and my excitement is due in part because I belong to the Ijebu tribe in Nigeria best known for our resourcefulness, sophistication and beauty (honestly I am not making this up..lol). Both my parents are from Ijebu so I am a full blooded member of the clan. 🙂 Also my grandmother (God rest her soul) made and sold Ijebu Garri for many years  at the market in Ijebu-Ife. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t until she passed on did we start buying garri, we always had a constant supply of high quality Ijebu garri courtesy her. It therefore gives me great joy to tell of the many benefits of Ijebu Garri in loving memory of ‘Mama Ijebu’ (that’s what we called her).

First a little bit of background.

What is Garri?

Garri is a fine to coarse granular flour of varying texture made from cassava tubers (also called cassava roots) which are cleaned after harvesting, grated, water and starch squeezed out of it, left to ferment and then dry-fried (dehydrated) either with palm oil or without palm oil. This is a major staple food in West Africa and eaten in a variety of ways.

One such way is to drink it, this is by far Nigeria’s number one fast food simply add water to the grains stir and there you have it. People often add sugar, groundnut or milk to it – making it a balanced meal/snack. 🙂
wpid-854722_img00414-20120310-1334-1

The other way is to cook it in hot water and made into a dough (Eba) which is eaten with a wide variety of sauces.

27269_350958756440_6075096_n

 

What makes Ijebu-Garri so special and beneficial to Health?

My research interest with Garri began when I started looking into the health benefits of probiotics (will explain this latter). Upon reading how many traditional diets provide probiotic benefits through fermented foods such as sauerkraut, tempeh etc; I began to think about what fermented foods we had in Nigeria. Quite naturally Garri came out top on the list, this along with Ogi/Pap/Akamu (made from fermented corn or millet grains), Iru (a natural food seasoning made from fermented locust beans) and wara (local cheese).

So what makes Ijebu-Garri so special? Ijebu-Garri is left to ferment for much longer which gives it its characteristic sour taste. The effect of prolonged fermentation is twofold; one is that the carbohydrate (starch) content is reduced to a greater extent and the probiotic benefits are optimised as bacterial population increases the longer the fermentation process.

Ijebu-Garri is also dehydrated to a greater extent which further reduces the risk of moulds giving it a longer shelf life.

What is Fermentation? 

Fermentation is a process whereby the sugars and starches are eaten up by bacteria cultures and converted to produce lactic acid, carbon-dioxide and more bacteria (friendly one’s); and the longer the fermentation process the more sugar and starch is eaten up and the lower the dietary carbohydrate present in the food. This is the reason why fermented foods are often advocated amongst diabetics or those looking to control blood sugar levels and lose weight.

What are Probiotics?

Probiotic which means ‘for life’, is a general term for microorganisms that contribute to health in the intestinal tract. They are beneficial bacteria that help us fight disease and illness.

There are billions of friendly bacteria in the body, all performing wonderful functions such as aiding digestion, improve immune function, balance hormonal levels, protect against infections from fungi and yeast (which can go into the bloodstream and cause diverse illnesses), help keep the body generally alkaline which according to some is the most beneficial state for good health, manufacture of some B vitamins, and lots more.

The use of antibiotics (which do not distinguish between good and bad bacteria, and as such kill off both good and bad bacteria), poor diet and stress can lower the number of these friendly bacteria. This can lead to a state known as Dysbiosis which is a bacterial imbalance where there is an unwanted increase of bad bacteria and yeast. Dysbiosis has been reported by some to be at the root of a number of conditions such as yeast infections, irritable bowel syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis 1. Many health experts believe  that  having adequate amount of friendly bacteria which help to crowd out bad bacteria that invade our intestines is the best way to ensure good health.

How do we increase or maintain adequate levels of friendly bacteria?

  • Eat Cultured/Fermented foods – A study carried out by Osho et al (2009) and published in the African Journal of Food found Lactobacillus (a probiotic) in Garri samples taken from markets in Ogun state. They concluded by saying that small-scale fermented foods such as Garri and Iru are a good source of Probiotic bacteria.  Other fermented foods include live yoghurt, cheese,  kefir (a fermented milk drink), natural miso (made from fermented soybeans ,barley or rice)  natural sauerkraut (made from fermented cabbage), tempeh, and kimchi (made from fermented cabbage)

8-probiotic-foods-infographic-1

  • Eat a Fibre rich Diet – Fibre from fruits, legumes and wholegrain are a good source of Prebiotics (not to be confused with Probiotics). Prebiotics are derived from carbohydrate fibres called oligosaccharides. These are not broken down in the digestion process and as such remain in the digestive tract where they help feed and encourage the growth of good bacteria. The fibre in Garri may also provides Prebiotic benefits making Garri a food that provides both pro and prebiotic benefits, how awesome is that! 🙂

prebiotics-ingredients

  • Take Probiotic and Prebiotic Supplements – These are available in capsule or liquid form. Do consult your health provider before taking supplements.

getty_rf_photo_of_probiotic_supplements

Another benefit of Ijebu Garri which I touched on briefly at the beginning of this post is that it has a lower starch content/dietary carbohydrate. First, the initial process of soaking and draining reduces starch conent, which is then further reduced by the fermentation process.

It is difficult to know the exact carbohydrate count of a fermented food but the principle to always bear in mind is this: the longer the fermentation time, the more carbohydrate is eaten up by the micro-organisms and the more sour it is the lower the dietary carbohydrate. 

This information is further evidenced by the fact that we Ijebu’s always prepare Eba on the fire (my room-mate at UNI was shocked when she saw me doing this once and I was shocked that she was shocked..lol) simply putting hot water in a bowl and mixing in the Garri will not give it that ‘elastic’ consistency. Even with that, the ‘elastic’ consistency (which implies a higher starch content) we get is still lower when compared with other types of Garri such as ‘Yellow Garri’.

This is the reason why many non-Ijebu’s say Ijebu Garri is best only for drinking. This in itself is a blessing because some have said that the probiotic benefits of a fermented food can be reduced by heat and as such drinking Garri might be the best way to get its probiotic benefits.

Either way whether you decide to soak it or eat it as Eba, Ijebu Garri remains the King of Garris! 🙂

What fermented foods do you have in your part of the world?