The consensus is that protein is an important macronutrient. It the essential building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Protein is vital for the regulation of the body’s organs and tissues.
It is a component of every cell in the body, the body uses it to build and repair tissue, the body needs it to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals.
You don’t have to look far to see and enjoy a protein-rich Nigerian diet. Here are some common and not-so-common protein meal options in Nigeria.
Protein meal 1: Beans
Beans is actually one of the most consumed foods in Nigeria after cassava, rice and yam. Beans are nutritional legumes packed with protein, fiber, B vitamins, iron, potassium, and are low in fat. There are two widely consumed varieties in Nigeria; Ewa oloyin (Honey beans) and Ewa drum (brown beans). There are however other varieties such as the Ewa Agoyin, Ewa white (white beans), and many more. Beans contain cancer-fighting chemicals, specifically, isoflaven and phytosterols. Beans can be made into products and by-products (Moi moi, Akara, Gbegiri). Beans are also good sources of protein and fibre in animal and livestock feed preparation.
Protein meal 2: Egusi (Melon seed)
Egusi is the dried and ground protein-rich seeds of some cucurbitaceous melon plants. They are commonly used in preparing major Nigerian cuisines. Egusi has so many nutrients packed in it including protein, potassium, zinc, magnesium, dietary fibres, etc.
Protein meal 3: Kpomo
Kpomo is a fibrous protein. Fibrous proteins are proteins with an elongated shape. Fibrous proteins form long fibers that serve a structural role in the human body. They are very strong proteins due to their amino acid sequence which often contain repeating sets of amino acid residues. Such repeating sets tend to cause the protein to be both elongated and strong. This is the reason for the ‘hardness’ of Kpomo. Kpomo contains zero fat, carbs and calories. It is a superb source of protein for weight loss.
Protein meal 4: Soybeans
Soybeans is a great source of protein. Though, still a little bit unpopular among the Nigerian populace, it is a wholesome plant protein. It is mainly consumed in the northern part of the country and the byproducts gotten from it are Wara, Tofu, Etc. Soybeans can be processed into oil, milk and flour. The oil contains no cholesterol or fats. It contain vitamins and minerals that are essential to the development of the body. It is a great protein source for weight loss.
Protein meal 5: Fresh/Dry Fish
Fish and seafoods in general, are some of the healthiest foods on the planet. They contain important nutrients that are very beneficial to the overall health of the body. Fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids which are important for the overall development of the body and brain. It is a low-fat, high protein source. Fish is rich in vitamins D and B2 (riboflavin) and minerals (iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium. Fish consumption is very good for the heart and blood vessels.
Busola Ogunmoyero, a researcher and Public Relations enthusiast, writes from Lagos.