Nutritional components of the two main ingredients maize and beans
One of the reasons maize is a staple food across the world is its high nutritional value, with high levels of starch and also valuable proteins and oils. Depending on the variety, maize may contain some important B vitamins, folic acid, Vitamin C, and provitamin A (precursor to vitamin A). Maize is also rich in phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, iron and selenium, and has small amounts of potassium and calcium. Maize is a good source of dietary fibre and protein while being very low in fat and sodium (salt). However, maize is naturally deficient in lysine and tryptophan, which are two of nine amino acids regarded as essential for humans, so it needs to be part of a balanced diet.
Maize has tremendous variation in content and composition of several coloured pigments collectively known as carotenoids. Notably, the carotenoid beta-carotene (or provitamin A) is converted to vitamin A by normal metabolic processes in the body. Vitamin A is very important to human health, but most especially for vision, and as an antioxidant. Therefore maize can be especially important to people who cannot get fresh vegetable year-round.
Nutrition fact sheet of cereals based on Kenyan food exchange list and the three macronutrients
|20g||2 T-spoons||2g||15g||Neg||70 Kcals|
Other nutrition facts on maize-based on Kenyan food composition table include Micronutrients facts which include;
One cup of maize contains:
- Calories:177 calories
- Carbs:41 grams
- Protein:4 grams
- Fat:1 grams
- Fiber:6 grams
- Vitamin C:17% of the daily value (DV)
- Thiamine (vitamin B1):24% of the DV
- Folate (vitamin B9):19% of the DV
- Magnesium:11% of the DV
- Potassium:10% of the DV
Though these values differ from one maize type to another, the values are average for all the maize types
Beans production for food has been on the rise, this is because of its known nutrition value which surpasses most common traditional foods. Beans are classified as legume and primarily one of the best sources of plant proteins if when prepared and mixed in the required ratio for completion of the protein by value. Some of the common nutrients in beans include protein, folic acid, potassium, iron, magnesium and fibre. It is important to note that despite high protein content, beans are deficient in methionine and tyrosine amino acids which are part of nine essential amino acids required for high biological value protein as such mixing beans with nuts or serials has been a primary solution to obtaining complete protein from plants.
Based on the current Kenyan food exchange list, generally, beans could be group as pulses or legumes with the following nutrition facts on the three macronutrients
Other nutrition facts on beans based on Kenyan food composition table. Micronutrients facts which include;
1 cup of beans
- Protein: 15 grams
- Fat:1 gram
- Carbs:45 grams
- Fibre: 15 grams
- Iron:20% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Calcium:8% of the DV
- Magnesium:21% of the DV
- Phosphorous:25% of the DV
- Potassium:21% of the DV
- Folate:74% of the DV
Though these values differ from one beans type to another, the values are average for all the bean types
MAKING SUPERSTAR GITHERI (MIXING MAIZE AND BEANS)
This has been a long term intervention used for curbing Micronutrients as well as macronutrients deficiencies all over the world, though adopted in various parts of the world, if not done properly it will not aid in sorting out the problem of malnutrition as intended hence the concept of Super Star Githeri.
Githeri is a common food within this region hence need to ensure it is as nutritious as possible, this there for calls for the following five steps used to ensure the githeri has maximum nutrients
- Whole grain cereals (Maize ) have the benefits of offering vitamins like Thymine and Niacin as well as fibre which are not available in polished grains. These B vitamins are beneficial in energy production and for growth of children as well as new cells in adults. The fibre is beneficial in controlling rates digestion, blood sugar hence key in protecting people from constipation as well as unnecessarily blood sugar related conditions such as diabetes, obesity and overweight. This session, therefore, encourages the use of whole-grain maize in making Githeri.
- To maximize benefits from cereals like maize, there is a need to mix them with legumes /pulses- beans. In this case of Githeri, beans and maize are mixed to give the desired quality before mixing, always ensure the ration of maize to beans is one to one for example when using a tin to measure when you use one tin of maize add one tin of bean. This is because beans have a slightly high amount of protein hence good for bodybuilding but all plant proteins are not complete proteins hence mixing the two products leads to the completion of the protein by getting lacking amino acids from various groups. Most cereals and grains are limited in tryptophan, threonine and a few limited in Lysin.
Legumes /pulses are limited in amino acids methionine.
Nuts are limited in amino acid lysine. This mixing helps benefit fully from complete protein with all the essential amino acids. .Once the ration is taken care of soak, the mixture to be cooked the following day overnight before cooking it. Drain out the soaking water to ensure the substance in beans which increases gas and stomach upset it cleared by the water (Since the soaking water contain harmful substances which increase gas and stomach upset do not use it in cooking .Just drain and pour it out ).
Importance of soaking
- Reducing cooking time. Soaked maize takes a maximum of three hours while the standard cooking time is 2-3 hours, unlike un-soaked which can take up to 8 hrs. This spares family time for doing other activities which could increase income in the family.
- Saves fuel, cooking fuel has a lot of direct impact on family finances, whether the family uses firewood, charcoal, gas or electricity. Longer cooking time increases the total amount of fuel used or energy used in cooking hence more money spent on the fuel bills.
- Improve digestibility, Soaking is a mimic of natural sprouting which eliminates digestive enzyme inhibitors, phytates and complex indigestible proteins. This helps in increased the breakdown of complex foods to simple and quickly absorbable nutrients.
- Improve nutrition quality of foods, by eliminating such chemicals like phytates, bio-availability of Micronutrients such as iron and zinc are improved hence easily obtained for the body use.
- Add at least two different vegetables in addition to tomatoes and onions. In Kenyan Food Composition table, vegetables are further divided into three groups. Dark Green leafy vegetable, Vitamin A-rich vegetables and other vegetables.Using this guideline
- Use one dark green leafy vegetable in the meal plan such as kales, amaranth, spinach and among other traditional dark green vegetable. They are good sources of vitamin A, iron.
- Use vitamin A-rich vegetable such as carrots, pumpkin, butternut and orange-fleshed sweet potatoes to increase vitamin A in your diet
- Other vegetables include onions, tomatoes and pepper (pili pili ) which are all good sources of vitamin C.
The oranges and greens also enhance colour in the food hence increasing palatability and appeal to take more for the children and adults with poor appetite.
- Vegetable cooking is a delicate process since they lose important nutrients like vitamin C very fast. There are therefore two way to ensure you protect these nutrients
- Cook separately and mix at the table. This helps control cooking times including warming time in case a member of the family takes the meals at a later time
- Put the vegetables towards the cooking time to ensure they have shorter total cooking time. This will also protect the vitamins and other volatile nutrients like iodine in the food.
- To increase the value of nutrient like iron by making it bio-available in Githeri please eat githeri with vitamin C rich foods such as pepper, tomatoes, onions, oranges, pawpaws among others. This increases availability of non-heme iron hence increasing absorption.
- Kenyan Food Composition table 2018
- Food exchange list for meal planning 2014
Michael Ouma Odero