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Vitamin A is an essential nutrient for bodily function. It is essential to build the body’s vitamin A composition because a deficiency could lead to a whole number of problems ranging from partial blindness to bad skin.
In this article I am going to be sharing 10 African foods that are rich considerably in vitamin A. Disclaimer, number 9 might shock you a little.
What is Vitamin A?
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that embodies several chemically related naturally occurring compounds or metabolites. The primary dietary form of vitamin A is retinol which has a fatty acid molecule attached, that creates a retinyl ester when stored in the liver. Retinyl is the most abundant form of vitamin A in the human body. It is in the same family as retinol which is needed for vision, cellular development, maintenance of the skin and the mucous membrane as well as improved immune function and development.
Importance of Vitamin A to the Human Body.
Vitamin A is important to the human body as it is essential for normal vision, improved immune system, reproduction, and growth and development. Vitamin A helps your heart, lungs, and other organs function at par.
Vitamin A has two different sources which are Preformed vitamin A and Provitamin A.
Preformed vitamin A is usually found in fish, organ meat such as liver, dairy products such as cheese and milk, and eggs as well. While provitamin A is turned into vitamin A in the human body and they are gotten from fruits, vegetables, and plant-based products.
There are two different sources of vitamin A:
People who eat a lot of foods containing vitamin A or beta-carotene might have a lower risk of certain kinds of cancer. It also helps slow down the rate of vision loss in older people suffering from Age-related macular degeneration. Vitamin A is also essential in protecting the body against measles and children with measles are encouraged to increase their vitamin A intake.
What Deficiencies occur as a result of a lack of Vitamin A?
The deficiency of vitamin A comes from a dietary intake of vitamin A that is not enough to satisfy physiological needs. It is sometimes escalated by high rates of infections such as diarrhea and measles. Vitamin A deficiency is a public health problem and it is prevalent in Africa and South- East Asia. The most intense effects of this are usually seen amongst pregnant women and young children.
Night blindness is one of the first signs of vitamin A deficiency. In more intense forms, this deficiency contributes to blindness by making the cornea very dry and therefore damaging the retina and the cornea. It is said that an estimated two hundred and fifty thousand to five hundred thousand children who are vitamin A deficient become blind every year and about half of them die after losing their sight within a year.
Vitamin A deficiency also influences maternal mortality and other poor outcomes of lactation and pregnancy. It also reduces the body’s ability to fight infections. If the slightest subclinical deficiency can cause problems as it may increase children’s risk for respiration and diarrhea infections. It also decreases growth rate, slows bone development, and reduces the chances of surviving a serious illness. Lack of vitamin A can also cause dry, scaly, and itchy skin. It also plays a major role in the reproductive system and a deficiency in vitamin A can lead to problems in conceiving as well as infertility.
African Foods that are Rich in Vitamin A
I mentioned earlier that the deficiency of vitamin A is very prevalent in Africa, so therefore it is essential that the meals we eat are rich in vitamin A and we learn to infuse them into our daily diet to avoid blindness, bad skin, infections, and even death.
Here are some African foods that are highly rich in vitamin A.
Beans is known for its high composition of vitamin A and this is one meal we Africans love eating in whatever form we can have it.
Beans, in general, are members of the legume crop family. There are many different types of beans around the world, each with its own shape, size, color, and flavor; nevertheless, kidney-shaped, black-eyed, and brown beans are the most popular in Nigeria.
Nigerian beans porridge goes well with Agege bread (a type of Nigerian bread) or any bread. Aside from bread, fried plantain, and yam is a popular and delicious combination. It can also be eaten as a side dish with rice or relished with the almighty garri.
What are The Best Beans To Use For Porridge Beans?
Many chefs have confirmed that honey beans are the best to use because they have a unique and somewhat sweet flavor that truly ups your dish, but any of the other beans would suffice.
The Nigerian brown beans appear almost identical to the honey beans, so if you opt to pick them up in an African Market, make sure to ask for honey beans specifically.
How To Prepare Beans Porridge
Beans porridge can be made in a variety of simple ways, depending on the chef in charge of the dish.
However, you’ll need to pick the beans first. This is the first stage in the preparation of any Nigerian bean recipe. The beans are prepared locally and may contain stones or soil particles. Spread out the beans on a tray so you can see them all, then search for and remove any foreign bodies.
Except for slicing the onion, cooking Nigerian beans porridge requires no preparation. However, Nigerian beans require a lot of water to cook, so make sure you have plenty on hand. Check out the recipe below:
Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin A and a whole lot of other nutrients. Therefore Tomato stew is a must-include as an African into your diet.
Tomato stew is a soup made primarily of tomatoes. It can be served hot or cold and prepared in a variety of ways.
Tomatoes are one of the most important vegetables used in preparing various kinds of dishes. Tomato stew, made from this vegetable, is a tasty, spicy mixture of flavors, usually eaten with rice and a lot of carbohydrate-based foods.
Tomatoes can be used in a variety of dishes. There are diced tomatoes, whole plum tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, and other forms such as crushed tomatoes and tomato puree.
Meat, poultry, or fish are frequently cooked with vegetables and seasonings in a tomato stew. So, a tomato stew can contain any mix of vegetables as well as meat, particularly tougher meats that can be cooked slowly, such as beef, hog, lamb, chicken, sausages, and seafood.
How To Prepare Tomato Stew
Tomato stew is a soup made primarily of tomatoes. It can be served hot or cold and prepared in a variety of ways. It is a West African staple, with various ingredient modifications based on culture and personal tastes.
Because of the ease of preparation, this is more popular in Nigerian families than stew, another Nigerian red stew classic. The fact that all stews are produced with blended tomatoes (occasionally with onions and peppers), cooked with some oil, and some form of protein is what unites them.
The type of oil used, the other veggies combined with the tomatoes, the quality of the tomato stew, and the protein used to make the stew vary depending on who cooks it for you.
How To Get Rid of Sour Taste When Cooking Your Tomato Stew
If you’ve ever spent a lot of time and effort preparing a full pot of stew and it came out sour, you’re not alone. You don’t have to give up on this one chance just yet. You can always try again and again by making the following conscious efforts to make it better.
To remove the sour taste from tomato stew, steam or boil the fresh tomatoes before combining. The sour water escapes or evaporates during the steaming or boiling of the tomatoes, leaving the true tomato content with less water.
When tomato stew is thoroughly fried, it removes any water and acidic contents. This must be done properly by continuously stirring the stew as it is fried; continuous stirring keeps the stew from burning before the water content is completely evaporated. It takes time, but it is well worth it in the end.
When you remove the seeds from fresh tomatoes before blending, you reduce the amount of acid in the tomatoes because tomato seeds have a high concentration of amino acids, which contribute to the acid content of the tomato and make it sour.
Kamounia is a meal that is prepared using liver and beef which are top food sources of vitamin A.
Kamounia, also known as Kamouneya, is a cumin-flavored beef and liver stew. It is used in Sudanese and Tunisian cuisines.
Lamb is also occasionally utilized as a key ingredient, and extra spices are included. It is occasionally served with or on top of cooked rice. Broth, garlic, olive oil, and parsley are examples of fundamental ingredients.
Kamounia is a classic beef meal that is actually a stew. This dish is quite excellent and heavily influenced by cumin powder. This meal is similarly cooked in Egyptian cuisine, although the Tunisian version includes Harissa and cumin powder, which the Egyptian version does not. There are various varieties of this meal, and lamb is sometimes used to prepare it. This stew goes best with rice.
African Mango and Cucumber Salad.
This is another dish you need to put into the hat as it is extremely nutritious and provides your body with a whole lot of other vitamins besides vitamin A.
This East Africa Mango Cucumber Salad is wonderful on its own or as a side dish to accompany grilled meats, thanks to its fresh ingredients and a hint of spice.
This salad is as easy as cutting up some produce, adding some spices, and mixing it all, it also offers fantastic combinations of crunchy and soft, sweet and tart.
Where Does African Mango and Cucumber Salad Come From?
African Mango and Cucumber Salad are the most popular in East Africa. East Africa includes the countries Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia. East Africans have been eating mangoes since Persian traders brought them to Africa in the 10th century.
Fumbua is also known as wild spinach stew. Spinach is a nutritious leafy, green vegetable that may benefit skin, hair, and bone health. It is rich in multiple vitamins and minerals. One cup of spinach contains about 141 micrograms of vitamin A.
Fumbua is a delicious cuisine from the Democratic Republic of the Congo that is also famous in Angola. It’s both filling and healthy.
This wild spinach stew mixes delicious tastes with healthy fats and proteins to create a delicious low-carb dinner.
Catfish and Carrot Sauce
Catfish is popular in Nigeria today, because of the boom in catfish farming, both as home-farming and large-scale fish farming. Catfish is high in protein and vitamins, and moderate in fat.
How To Prepare Catfish and Carrot Sauce
For quick prep, use your food processor to shred the carrots (or buy them pre-shredded). Sweet red Chile sauce is available in the markets; it keeps for ages in the fridge and dresses up any cooked vegetables, tofu, or seared meats.
You can use catfish as a whole, in filets, or as nuggets for this recipe. Any way you cook it, you get the full richness of nutrients in the fish. To achieve a carrot-based consistency, use a 3-part carrot, and 1-part tomato.
The sauce’s delicious richness also tames the bold, smoky spices we’re using to coat our pan-seared catfish. This sauce can be eaten with rice, potato, or yam dishes.
Edikaikong soup is a nutritious Nigerian soup recipe made with a large amount of fresh green vegetables, dried fish, and various types of meat. It is one of the indigenous soups of Nigeria’s south-southern states.
This soup, like most from these coastal regions, is loaded with various seafood delicacies like periwinkles, a variety of rich proteins, and assorted meat cuts typical to Nigerians.
This whole vegetable soup originated among the Efik people of Southern Nigeria‘s Cross River and Akwa Ibom states. It is considered a delicacy by some Nigerians and is occasionally offered on important occasions.
Edikang ikong is a nourishing soup that is difficult to cook and is said to be consumed primarily by Nigeria’s wealthy. Beef and dried fish, bush meat, crayfish, shaki (cow tripe), kanda, pumpkin leaves, water leaves, ugu, onion, periwinkle, palm oil, salt, and pepper are all used in edikang ikong.
Edikang ikong is usually served with fufu, wheat flour, eba, or pounded yam after it has been prepared.
How To Cook Edikaikong Soup
It is often made with a mix of two vegetables- Pumpkin leaves (Ikong Ubong/Ugwu leaves) and water leaves. However, pumpkin leaves and water leaves are unavailable, Spinach, Kale, and Lamb lettuce/Mache (Valerianella locusta) can be substituted.
Pumpkin Sweet Potato Soup
This meal is literally 2 in one. You are probably more focused on the Pumpkin which is a great source of vitamin A but so is Sweet potato.
Sweet potato is one of the main sources of beta-carotene which is a precursor to vitamin A.
Pumpkin and sweet potato soup is a delicious pumpkin soup dish with soothing flavors that are needed to warm you up on a cold night. The combination of pumpkin, potato, and vegetable stock yields a thick consistency with a fragrant blend of tastes and flavors.
Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and eggs are major foods that are rich in Vitamin A.
Shakshuka is a meal that is rich in vitamin A as most of its ingredients are dairy products.
There are various variations of this dish, however, a traditional shakshuka recipe is basically made of eggs poached in a spicy warm tomato-based stew with onions, garlic, and bell pepper. Some recipes include minced meat, yogurt, fresh herbs, feta cheese, and more.
Origin of Shakshuka
The exact origin of this meal is not totally known, but it is said to have originated in North Africa, particularly Tunisia, and has been brought to Israel and become a popular Middle Eastern Dish.
Is Shakshuka Spicy?
There is no right or wrong way to spice up this egg and tomato meal. You definitely need some cumin, paprika, and chili powder to add to it. We can say that this meal is more warm and flavorful as opposed to spicy.
The major ingredients used in cooking this meal are more often than not sitting in your kitchen as they are daily used ingredients. The major ingredients needed are oil, onion and garlic, bell pepper, tomatoes, cumin, paprika, chili powder, eggs, cilantro, parsley, avocado, bread, or crumbled cheese for serving.