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Nutritional Benefits of Lactic acid fermented Cereal-based African Foods

Lactic acid fermentation is one of the oldest practices in processing African foods in Africa.

Todate, lactic fermentation of food is carried out through traditional, village-art methods.

Fermentation usually involves either soaking of the raw materials, submerged in water contained in a fermenting units, usually clay pots or gourds.

Traditionally fermented African foods are either cereal or non-cereal based. The table below shows some of the cereal-based African fermented foods.

Raw Material Fermented Product name Country
Maize 

Sorghum

Millet

Rice

Wheat

Tef (Eragrotis tef)

Ogi 

Abreh

uji

Kenkey

Mahewu/Magou

Humulur

Mawe

Nigeria/West Africa 

Sudan

Kenya/East Africa

Ghana

South Africa

Sudan

Benin/West Africa

Alcoholic Beverages Busaa 

Mbege

Bouza

Merisa

Kaffir/Kefir

Leting/Joala

Utshival/amqombotih

Burukutu

Pitoh

Malawa

Kenya/East Africa 

Tanzania

Egypt

Sudan

North Africa

South Africa

South Africa

West Africa

West Africa

Zambia, Uganda

Acid leavened breads or cakes Kisrah 

Enjera Tef / Injera

Kishj

Laban zeer

Sudan 

Ethiopia

Egypt

Morocco

Importance of Lactic acid fermentation

Fermentation process has survived centuries in Africa because of the following benefits:

  1. It is a low cost method of food preservation.
  2. It contributes to improvement of nutritional value and digestibility of various foods

Nutritional benefits of lactic acid fermentation of African foods.

There are two main nutritional benefits derived from lactic acid fermentation of African foods:

Food detoxification by lactic acid bacteria

Cassava is known to contain some toxic compounds in form of cyanogenic glucosides. Grating cassva roots for fermentation releases enzyme called linamarase that help to breakdown these toxic compounds and render them safe.

It has also been confirmed that certain lactic acid bacteria isolated from cassava have capability of producing linamarase enzymes useful for hydrolysing the potentially toxic components in cassava.

Improvement of nutrition and digestibility

Malnutrition is high among African children fed entirely on African cereal-based traditional foods. This is due to various anti-nutrients in these cereal-based foods.

Certain cereals contain anti-nutrients such as phytic acid, tannins and polyphenols. These anti-nutrients are responsible for the low availability of proteins and iron in cereal-based weaning foods.

Household lactic acid fermentation of cereals has been found to effectively reduce the amount of phytic acid, polyphenols and tannins and improved availability of protein in sorghum and millet.  It also leads to improved iron availability.

Reference:

Olusola B. Oyewole. (1997). Lactic fermented foods in Africa and their benefits. Food Control: (5), 289-297.

 

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