Fonio is an African legacy grain — or old grain — that is viewed as the landmass’ most seasoned developed cereal (1). Local to West Africa, it’s a staple most ordinarily appreciated in the bumpy regions of nations like Burkina Faso, Guinea, Senegal, Mali, and Nigeria (1).

Different names for fonio incorporate acha, iburura, and hungry rice.

This article clarifies the social importance, supplements, and medical advantages of fonio — and gives you a few plans to attempt.

  • Karisssa/Getty Images
  • Social meaning of fonio
  • In certain pieces of West Africa, fonio holds sociocultural importance.

In Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Togo, fonio was customarily saved for bosses and sovereignty and appreciated during the Muslim blessed month of Ramadan or at festivities like weddings and immersions (2Trusted Source).

In certain pieces of Togo, fonio is utilized to forestall blood coagulating after labor and animate milk creation in breastfeeding individuals (2Trusted Source).

As a staple food, it assumes an essential part in guaranteeing food security, particularly during the post-collect time frame when food is scant. It very well may be gathered inside 6 two months and stores well without the danger of bug invasion (1, 2Trusted Source).

Fonio fills well in dry spell conditions and helpless soils without the requirement for manures or different executes (1, 3).

An ignored and underutilized crop species

Regardless of its rich social legacy and supplement profile, fonio is viewed as an ignored and underutilized crop species (NUCS) (1, 4Trusted Source).

Some of the time alluded to as “lost yields,” “minor harvests,” or “vagrant harvests,” NUCSs haven’t been altogether investigated, are used ineffectively, and to a great extent developed by smallholder ranches (1, 3, 4Trusted Source).

However, this tide is evolving. Today, fonio is recorded as a need crop for West Africa. Because of its wholesome and natural properties, just as its capability to enhance one’s eating routine, it very well may be found in strength food walkways and stores across the world (5Trusted Source).

Besides, fonio has become a significant type of revenue for smallholder ranchers in West Africa (3).


Fonio is a socially critical grain in various West African nations, as it’s regularly utilized in different services. In spite of the fact that it’s profoundly cultivatable, it has verifiably been inadequately used and understudied.

Are there various kinds of fonio?

An individual from the millet family, fonio is separated into two principle types (1):

Digitaria iburua. This white grain has dark or earthy colored spikelets and fills essentially in pieces of Nigeria, Togo, and Benin.

Digitaria exilis. This white grain develops from Senegal to Chad, just as in focal Nigeria. It’s the most regularly eaten of the two assortments and all the more promptly accessible external Africa.


The two fundamental sorts of fonio are Digitaria iburua and Digitaria exilis, the last of which is most ordinarily found external Africa.


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Fonio is a nourishing force to be reckoned with

Notwithstanding being normally low in cholesterol, sodium, and fat, 1/4 cup (45 grams) of dry fonio — around 1/2 cup cooked — gives (2Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source):

Calories: 170

Protein: 2 grams

Sugar: 0 grams

Fat: 0.5 grams

Carbs: 39 grams

Fiber: 4% of the Daily Value (DV)

Iron: 4% of the DV

Fonio is a decent wellspring of B nutrients, including thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin, which are vital for the development, improvement, and capacity of cells, just as energy creation (7, 8, 9).

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) proposes that fonio has the most noteworthy calcium substance, all things considered. This may settle on it a decent decision for the individuals who don’t burn-through dairy, for example, vegetarians or people with lactose prejudice (2Trusted Source, 10).

Fonio likewise gives iron, copper, zinc, and magnesium (4Trusted Source).

Iron and copper help structure red platelets, connective tissue, and platelets, while zinc assumes a part in insusceptible capacity, protein combination, and cell development and division. Magnesium helps various biochemical responses and is needed for energy creation (11, 12, 13).


Fonio gives various B nutrients, just as minerals like calcium, iron, copper, zinc, and magnesium. It offers moderate measures of fiber and protein.

Medical advantages of fonio

In spite of the fact that fonio has existed for more than 5,000 years, logical examination on this grain is inadequate with regards to (1).

A few investigations propose that the environment, soil conditions, and cultivating practices may influence the supplement substance of specific plant food sources across Africa (14Trusted Source).

Incredible wellspring of plant-based amino acids

Fonio is a decent expansion to the weight control plans of individuals who don’t eat sufficient creature or protein-based nourishments.

Despite the fact that its protein arrangement is similar to that of white rice, fonio contains fundamentally higher measures of the sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cysteine. Both of these amino acids are inadequate in grains like corn, wheat, rice, sorghum, and grain (5Trusted Source).

As a fundamental amino corrosive, methionine should be acquired through food, as your body can’t make it. It assumes a part in skin versatility, hair development, nail wellbeing, and the development and fix of body tissues (15).

Cysteine is an insignificant amino corrosive that is important for protein blend and detoxification. It likewise assumes a part in the development of the amino corrosive taurine (16).

Except for lysine, a common serving of fonio may meet about 10% of a grown-up’s every day fundamental amino corrosive necessities (14Trusted Source).

Entire grain

Fonio is eaten completely and along these lines thought about an entire grain.

Entire grains may help weight the board and gut wellbeing. They’re likewise connected with a plenty of medical advantages, including a decreased danger of type 2 diabetes, coronary illness, and colorectal, pancreatic, and stomach malignancy (17Trusted Source).

Dissimilar to refined grains in which the germ and wheat are eliminated during preparing, entire grains incorporate every one of the three pieces of the part — the grain, endosperm, and germ.

As per the Whole Grains Council, a philanthropic purchaser support gathering, about 25% of a grain’s protein is lost when the wheat and germ are eliminated. Supplement misfortunes likewise happen in numerous other significant supplements (18).

The U.S. Division of Agriculture (USDA) suggests that entire grains include half of your day by day grain admission. Counting 1/4 cup (45 grams) of dry fonio in your eating regimen can help you meet that objective (19Trusted Source).

Without gluten

Fonio is normally without gluten. Hence, it’s safe for individuals with gluten affectability or celiac infection.

Gluten-touchy people may encounter stomach inconvenience and sleepiness when they eat nourishments that contain gluten — a gathering of proteins found in wheat, grain, and rye (20).

Among those with celiac infection, gluten presents similar manifestations as gluten affectability yet additionally harms the small digestive system (20).

May help glucose the board

Fonio contains safe starch, which opposes assimilation and retention in your small digestive system (5Trusted Source).

Safe starches have numerous medical advantages and may assume a part in expanding insulin affectability and bringing down glucose levels (21Trusted Source).

Moreover, this grain has a low glycemic file (GI) score, implying that it doesn’t rapidly raise your glucose levels. Therefore, it might assist individuals with diabetes deal with their glucose (5Trusted Source).


Fonio is an entire grain that is an extraordinary wellspring of plant-based amino acids. Furthermore, it might help moderate glucose levels, and it’s normally without gluten.

Step by step instructions to utilize fonio

Fonio is incredibly flexible. At the point when cooked, it has a gritty taste that promptly assimilates the kinds of the nourishments it’s set up with.

In West Africa, fonio is generally cooked as couscous, made into a porridge, and remembered for neighborhood drinks. Like different grains, it very well may be processed into a flour and utilized in heated products, for example, bread, treats, and cakes (22).

In the kitchen, it’s so fast and easy to make that the Bambara individuals of Mali say that fonio never humiliates the cook.

Try not to be reluctant to try different things with it in your kitchen. Here are a couple of formula thoughts:

Substitute fonio for any grain, including rice, couscous, millet, sorghum, quinoa, and grain.

Use it in porridge in a similar way in which you’d use oats.

Add it to soups and stews.

Sprinkle it in servings of mixed greens.

Use fonio flour in prepared items like bread, treats, cakes, and bars.

The most effective method to make fonio

Bring 1 cup (240 mL) of water to a quick bubble.

Add salt to taste.

Add 1/4 cup (45 grams) of dry fonio, mix daintily, and cover.

Turn the warmth to low and cook it until all the fluid is assimilated.

Turn the warmth off and cushion the fonio with a fork.

In the event that the dish stays saturated, steam it further.


Fonio is a flexible grain that is regularly cooked like couscous or porridge. It’s likewise accessible as a flour that you can use in heated products.

Plans to attempt

Attempt a portion of the plans underneath for heavenly, solid dishes made with fonio.

Fonio plans

jollof fonio

fonio balls in African nut sauce

mango fonio plate of mixed greens

fonio breakfast porridge

Ethiopian yam fonio tacos

steamed fonio with tumeric vegetable sauce


Plans that utilization fonio incorporate Ethiopian yam tacos, mango fonio plate of mixed greens, and fonio balls in African nut sauce.

The reality

Fonio is an African legacy grain, likewise called an old grain, that is for the most part devoured in West African nations.

It’s normally without gluten and offers a hearty amino corrosive profile, just as other potential medical advantages like improved glucose the executives.

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