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Local foods healthier, have more proteins, say experts


Adekunle Yusuf

NUTRITIONISTS have advocated a quick return to food that are locally available, stressing that such foods have more proteins and healthier for human consumption. This, they stressed, would help in tackling malnutrition crisis in the country.

This advocacy was made by a panel of nutritionists and medical doctors during the Protein Challenge Webinar Series 4, with the theme: ‘Protein deficiency in a pandemic.’

The experts advised Nigerians to engage in home gardening to guarantee food security and prevent protein deficiency, adding that adequate food supply of food could end malnutrition.

The Chief Lecturer, Department of Home Economics, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Lagos, Dr. Beatrice Oganah-Ikujenyo, said it was important for people to go back to indigeneous foods because they are more nutritious.

She said: “We need to go back to foods like cocoyam, sesame seeds, locust beans, groundnut, melon, edible maggots, African pear (ube), leafy vegetables and soybeans. All these foods are loaded with proteins and healthy elements which can stem malnutrition.”

Read Also: Can Nigeria tackle food insecurity?

The nutritionist urged Nigerians to change their mentality, explaining that foods do not have to be expensive to be healthy. People need to buy and eat foods based on the food group pyramid, which consists of energy-giving foods (50-60 per cent), proteins (15-29 per cent), micronutrients (seven to nine per cent) and fibre (two per cent), she said, urging that it is adviseable to adopt cooking practices that can help retain the nutrients in the foods such as steaming, roasting, baking, boiling and braising.

A clinical and public health physician, Dr. Adepeju Adeniran, said COVID-10 has worsened malnutrition crisis in the country. “The lockdown meant food production – supply and domestic food security – was affected. Anything that affects any of these factors will eventually affect malnutrition. The food supply chain was severely threatened: farmers, transporters and food sellers were restricted in movements, availability of food groups dropped, prices of food went up and household earnings went down,” she said.

She added that there was a need for farmers to be secure, fertiliser to be subsided, loans made available for buying lands for farming and ease of transportation from the rural areas to the urban areas.

She also said farm produce should be stored and protected from pests. All these, she said, would balance out equity.

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