Garri is the granular flour that is gotten by processing the starchy tuberous roots of freshly harvested cassava. It is one of the most affordable and popular food in Nigeria. Despite its popularity, many Nigerians are not aware of the many health benefits of garri. This article discusses the nutritional value and health benefits of garri.
There are two types of garri: yellow and white. The colour and flavour of the garri depend on how long it has been fermented and the presence of palm oil.
Garri is a healthy meal and if combined with other ingredients like milk, fish, groundnut, etc, or made into eba and eaten with soup; it can easily serve as a balanced diet for the body. It can be served hot and savory or cold and sweet.
Nutritional Value of Garri
The main ingredient in garri is cassava, which is the root from which garri is produced. It is rich in fiber, copper and magnesium, vitamin C, and high in carbohydrates. Garri also contains thiamine, folate, potassium, vitamin B6, and niacin. Yellow garri is prepared with palm oil and thus, contains more vitamin E.
The calories in garri also vary depending on the type of garri and how it’s prepared. One cup of garri contains about 191 calories, while one cup of eba contains about 172 calories.
7 Health Benefits of Garri
Based on its nutritional profile, here are the likely health benefits of garri.
1. Aids digestion
Fibrous foods have been shown to aid digestion. This is because the high fiber contents in these foods help bowel movements easier and faster. This is the same reason why orange is recommended if you are having a problem with indigestion due to its high fiber contents.
Furthermore, cassava is high in resistant starch, a type of starch that has properties similar to those of soluble fiber. Resistant starch feeds the good bacteria in your gut and promote digestive health.
Garri is very high in fiber and so can easily aid digestion and prevents constipation. To prevent constipation, taking the garri soaked in water is better than eating the granule without soaking it.
2. Provides energy to the body
Carbohydrates are the body’s most preferred energy source because they immediately turn into energy as soon as they are ingested. The body uses this energy to power the brain and body.
Garri contains a high amount of carbohydrates. This makes it an excellent source of glucose which the body needs for energy. In fact, 100 grams of garri contains about 40 grams of carbohydrates.
3. Boosts the immune system
Garri can also help in fortifying your immune system. That is because it is high in vitamin C. In 100 grams of cooked cassava, there are about 20% of the daily value of vitamin C. Vitamin C contributes to immune health by supporting various cellular functions in the body. Therefore, one of the health benefits of eba is that it boosts immunity.
4. Gluten-free food
Individuals who have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease can eat garri because it is a gluten-free food. This famous Nigerian food does not contain the combination of protein found in grain related foods like wheat and cannot cause damage to their small intestine. Hence, garri is one of the gluten-free food options in Nigeria.
5. Improves eyesight
Yes — contrary to the popular and unproven rumors, eating garri does not lead to poor eyesight or blindness. In fact, garri contains a healthy dose of vitamin A — the vitamin that the retina in the eyes needs to function properly. Studies have shown that vitamin A is necessary for preventing myopia or shortsightedness in young teens.
In addition, there are many garri products that are fortified with nutrients such as vitamin A, which in turn, improves eye health.
6. Source of folate
Folate is one of the few less popular but important vitamins with lots of functions in the body. For instance, folate is necessary for red blood formation and healthy growth, and for pregnant women, the presence of folate can help reduce the risk of birth defects, especially those that occur in the brain and spine of developing babies.
Garri contains a good amount of folate. Taking a healthy amount of garri can easily substitute for your daily folate needs. Furthermore, garri is also a excellent source of copper.
7. Treats dehydration caused by diarrhea
Garri can be used to treat mild to moderate dehydration caused by diarrhea. A study demonstrated that cassava-salt suspension could be effective in the management of acute diarrhea in infants and children.
Side Effects of Garri
There are also some potential side effects of garri, such as:
- Cyanide poisoning: It is important to note that some garri processing plants are unsanitary and can easily introduce a high amount of cyanide which is harmful to the body. Cassava contains chemicals known as cyanogenic glycosides, and these chemicals can release cyanide in the body. Cassava must be prepared properly before it is consumed to prevent cyanide poisoning.
- Could lead to weight gain: Although garri is moderate in calories, it is a high-carb food. And excessive consumption of eba or garri will lead to weight gain.
The above are some of the many health benefits of garri, so the next time you drink your garri or turn it into eba, you should have in mind that you are eating healthy food with lots of benefits for your body. Also, make sure you eat moderately, and consume garri that has been properly processed to avoid the side effects of garri.
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