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Fonio Grain: Benefits, Nutrition, Recipes, Comparison to Quinoa

Fonio Grain: Benefits, Nutrition, Recipes, Comparison to Quinoa

You may not be familiar with this whole grain, but according to Aduna’s website, Fonio has been predicted by Whole Foods and The Times as one of the hottest food trends of 2020. Moreover, it is believed to be one of the oldest cereals in Africa, as it has been consumed in West African countries such as Nigeria, Guinea and Burkina Faso for over 5000 years.

What are Phonio’s health benefits? It is a relatively good source of vegetable protein and provides six grams per half portion. It is also a natural cereal without gluten and rich in iron, zinc, B vitamins, phosphorus, magnesium, etc..

What is the Fonio?

Fonio is a cereal that has fed millions of people in West Africa for thousands of years. Whereas traditionally it was consumed mainly in Senegal, it is now consumed mainly in countries such as Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Nigeria.

Depending on the country/language, including :

  • buy
  • aca
  • hungry rice
  • hungry millet
  • afio
  • pini
  • Milletfondi
  • starving geese
  • and others

It is one of two types of millet (family Panicoideae), a fast-growing cereal that grows well in warm countries and regions with poor soils.

There are three main types of Phonio grains: white, black and raishan. The white Phonio font is the most popular and generally the easiest to find.

Is phonio a whole grain? Yes, that’s why it’s a good source of fibre, vitamins, minerals and even proteins and anti-inflammatory substances.

How does the phonio taste? The taste is described as a cross between couscous and quinoa. Like other wholemeal products, it has a sweet hazelnut taste.

Its texture is similar to that of teff or millet in that it is small and stony.

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1. A good source of protein and amino acids.

Fonio can be an important supplement for various diets, especially vegetarian/vegan diets, because it contains a number of essential amino acids. Methionine, cystine, valine, leucine and isoleucine are particularly high.

Studies show that phonio has higher levels of amino acids, such as methionine and cystine (sulfur-containing amino acids), than grains such as wheat, rice, corn, sorghum, barley and rye. These and other factors can contribute to benefits such as healthy muscle function, recovery of effort, bone health, detoxification, skin health and healthy metabolism.

Sulphur-containing amino acids are particularly useful for maintaining normal metabolism and growth, as well as healthy liver function.

In total, phonio contains two to three times more protein and fibre than brown rice.

2. High in iron and essential nutrients.

Another remarkable advantage of Phonio’s diet is the intake of nutrients such as iron, zinc and phosphorus. They are important for cognitive function, bone health, high energy levels and many other functions.

It also contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese and folic acid.

The high iron content of Phonio, as well as zinc, makes it particularly suitable for people who follow a vegan diet, because this diet can increase the risk of low iron absorption and anaemia, as is the case with many iron-rich foods. e.g. meat, should be avoided.

Iron is needed to support oxygen transport in the body, while zinc helps support the immune system, protects against oxidative stress and promotes blood clotting, skin health, thyroid function, etc. To absorb as much iron as possible from these grains, you should combine them with sources of vitamin C such as berries, peppers or leafy vegetables.

3. Good source of B vitamins

Phonio also contains B vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid and niacin, which help to convert nutrients into useful energy, support glucose metabolism and play a key role in the proper functioning of muscles, nerves, heart and brain.

4. Low glycemic index value

A low-carb Fonio? Because it is rich in protein and contains more fibre than refined cereals, it is a cereal with a low glycemic index (GI), but it still contains carbohydrates and is not particularly low in carbohydrates. However, studies have shown that it has a lower GI value than some cereals such as wheat. B. brown rice, which means it’s a good choice for people who need to check their blood sugar levels.

In fact, medical institutions in some African countries have traditionally recommended the use of Phonio for insulin-resistant diabetics/diabetics because it can help maintain metabolic health.

Whole white foni is the variety with the most fiber, which also contributes to the general low calorie content.

5. Gluten-free

Fonio is a good cereal for people on a gluten-free diet (e.g. people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance) because it does not naturally contain gluten protein and is not related to wheat/barley/rye.

Information on phonetic power supply

1/4 cup uncooked phonio (about 1/2 cup boiled) contains about :

  • 160-170 calories
  • 37-29 grams of carbohydrates
  • 2 to 3 grams of protein
  • 0-1 gram fat
  • 1 to 2 grams of fibre
  • 1.7 milligram iron (10% of DV)

Fonio versus quinoa:

The Guardian recently remarked that phonio could be the grain substitute for quinoa as king of the foodies. How do they compare?

They have the same amount of calories and are good sources of protein, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and other nutrients. They can be used in the same way and are both gluten-free, so feel free to trade one for the other.

One of the advantages of Phonio over many other cereals is that it is valued by local communities and demanded regionally in West Africa because it is well adapted to hot, dry climates and poor soils and can therefore grow in areas where many other cereals are unsuitable. It can thrive in dry, sandy soils at high altitude where cereals such as rice do not grow well.

It also ripens faster than most other plants and is ready for harvest within six to eight weeks of planting.

Recipes/advice for use

The advantage of this cereal is that it is very quick and easy to cook in just three minutes, in combination with boiling water – plus it is growth resistant and inexpensive. The cultivation of this grain even provides an income for the female farmers in the African Sahel and restores the degraded land in regions where farming is difficult.

  1. To prepare the fonio, prepare about 1/4 cup of dry cereals with 1 cup of water (4:1 water/dry cereals ratio).
  2. Cook in a saucepan on the fire and stir continuously until it swells like a bulgur or couscous for about 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. (Optional) You can also add a tablespoon of oil and a teaspoon of salt to make it less sticky and improve the taste.

The best places to buy phonio are ethnic markets specializing in African food, natural food stores or online.

Try Phonio to replace other wholemeal products such as brown rice, quinoa, teff, millet or polenta/grain flour. It works well in dishes like. B. :

  • fried rice
  • Rice Pilafs
  • fries
  • braised meat
  • Soups
  • Salads
  • sweet porridge
  • Cereal peelings
  • Tabul (replacing Bulgaria)

This grain is traditionally used in, for example, sweet breakfast cereals. B. in combination with milk. However, the flavour works just as well in savoury recipes.

Note that the phonio doubles in size after cooking.

If you are new to cooking with these cornflakes, you can start with these healthy fonio recipes:


  • What’s the Fonio? It is a whole grain crop related to millet, which originated more than 5,000 years ago in West Africa.
  • Phonio nutrition provides you with amino acids, iron, zinc, B vitamins, phosphorus and much more.
  • Diet phonio versus quinoa, which one’s the best? Both whole grains are similar, both are good sources of vegetable protein and essential nutrients.