Fonio has been a treasured source of nutrition across West Africa for generations.
In West Africa, fonio is prized by pregnant women + nursing mothers, and often fed as a first solid food to babies. It’s light yet satiating, and chock-full of important micronutrients.
Fonio is a source of complex carbohydrates that are digested slowly and sustain the body with energy throughout the day. It is low-glycemic, making fonio a great alternative to white rice, pasta, or couscous for those watching their blood sugar levels (including people living with diabetes). Fonio is gluten-free, ideal for people with celiac and gluten intolerances. It is also a low calorie-density food. One cup of cooked fonio contains ~140 calories. (One cup cooked brown rice has 210 calories; pasta: 220 calories, quinoa: 222 calories.)
Fonio is a good source of fiber, iron, B-vitamins, zinc, and magnesium as well as antioxidant flavonoids. And fonio is particularly high in two amino acids— methionine and cysteine— which promote hair, skin, and nail growth, and are deficient in all other grains.
Academic research on the nutritional profile of fonio is still in its early days, but we understand that its nutritional composition varies based on variety, soil, and growing conditions.
Fonio has a similar amino acid composition to that of an egg: considered to be the perfect protein.