Recently one study conducted by a team of scientists at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology found that foods processed through solar and sun drying possess a lower glycaemic index, which is healthy for consumption.
The study revealed that consuming traditional staples like ‘Konkonte’ processed through solar or sun drying, could reduce your blood sugar levels and lower the risk of heart diseases.
Why is Konkonte a low Glycemic Index food? I provide an explanation in this article based on science.
Konkonte can lower blood sugar levels and is, hence, good for diabetes.
What makes Konkonte unique is that it is made of cassava flour. The key ingredient in konkonte is cassava.
Cassava flour is a good substitute for wheat flour in a variety of recipes.
Cassava flour comes from the root vegetable cassava. This is a vegetable that is rich in carbohydrates and contains important vitamins and minerals. To make cassava flour, a person must grate cassava, dry it out, and grind it to a fine powder.
The reason why we get the needed benefits from konkonte is due to the cassava content which is high in resistant starch. What, therefore, is resistant starch? Magallanes-Cruz et al.(2017) study found that these are starches that the small intestine does not digest.
Their mechanism of action is the same as fibre as found by Nugent (2005).
They resist digestion as they pass through the gastrointestinal tract. Maier et al.(2017) found that resistant starches promote gut health by providing beneficial gut bacteria as they ferment.
These provide several possible health benefits to eating resistant starches in cassava flour such as Konkonte.
As the resistant starch in cassava flour ferments inside the colon, it feeds the healthy bacteria there. During this process, the starches turn into short-chain fatty acids.
One of these short-chain fatty acids is butyrate. Butyrate is an important component in the cells of the colon.
One study by Zimmerman et al.(2012) found that Butyrate can also decrease the levels of inflammation inside the colon. This can help protect a person against a variety of digestive issues, such as inflammatory colorectal cancer and ulcerative colitis.
This means that frequent eating of konkonte in theory increases your butyrate content and could also help protect a person from other inflammatory issues in the bowel and colon, including constipation, diarrhoea, Crohn’s disease and diverticulitis.
However, Zimmerman et al.(2012) study was quick to note that most of the studies into these specific positive effects of resistant starches were based on animals and not humans.
Therefore, studies on humans are required to find out if these benefits affect humans.
Maki et al.(2012) study found that resistant starch can increase a person’s insulin sensitivity. Cassava flour is high in resistant starch and this gives konkonte the needed health advantage.
In Maki et al(2012) study, males who were overweight or obese ate 15–30 grams (g) of resistant starch each day such as konkonte. These males who, for instance, ate konkonte then showed increased insulin sensitivity in comparison to males who did not eat these resistant starches such as konkonte.
The study notes: “By increasing a person’s insulin sensitivity, resistant starches can play a role in preventing disorders such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease”.
Interestingly, in this study, female participants did not show the same results. More research is necessary to determine why.
One study by Maziarz et al. (2017) found that eating resistant starch can help people feel more full. The study further notes that eating 30g of resistant starch each day for six weeks reduced the levels of the hormones that cause hunger in healthy people who were overweight.
This means that eating Konkonte, which contained 40g of carbohydrates, for just six weeks, could help you reduce some weight as the resistant starch in the diet also increased the presence of compounds that help a person feel less hungry in the morning.
What this means is that konkonte should be included in the diet plan of those on weight loss programmes as it lowers their daily calorie intake.
Source, Vitamin C
According to fdc.nal.usda.gov, Cassava is loaded with vitamin C, with 20 per cent of the Daily Value in each 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving. Vitamin C plays a key role in many aspects of health, including immunity.
Carr and Maggini(2017) study found that vitamin C can help protect against oxidative stress and support the function of immune cells in your body.
Pullar et al. (2017) also found that Vitamin C also protects against skin damage and stimulates the production of collagen, a type of protein found throughout your body in your bones, skin, muscles, and joints. What this means is that eating Konkonte provides 20 per cent of the Daily Value of Vitamin C the body needs, protects the skin from damage, and improves joint care.
The writer is a Professor of Naturopathic Healthcare, President, Nyarkotey College of Holistic Medicine& Technology (NUCHMT)/AfricanNaturopathic Foundation.