Nutritional and Health Benefits of Acha (Digitaria exilis) in the Human Diet – A Review
The African ancient traditional cereal grain acha, though poorly studied, has received an increasing attention by scientists within the last decade. It has the potential to contribute significantly to whole grain diets, wellness, economic status improvement and play an important role in medicine, animal feed and food security in a developing nation like Nigeria. Acha is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, fibre, carbohydrate, protein, amino acids containing methionine and cysteine. It has health benefits, because it is rich in energy, iron, aids digestion and cardiovascular function, good for diabetics, gluten-free diet, an excellent meal for weight loss, good for the skin and also hair formation. This cereal grain with excellent nutritional properties should be encouraged considering the challenging cost of health care. The exploitation of this grain requires a collaborated effort of the government, academia and the food industry to assist in funding the development of equipment that would make it possible to mechanize the production of the grain, if the growing population of Nigeria is to experience the full benefits of acha for active health life; hence this review.
Keywords: Production, utilization, food security
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