17 Healthy Nigerian Foods for Diabetics

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The moment one is diagnosed with diabetes, the singular question that comes to mind is “what can I eat?” Being diabetic does not mean that you will starve, rather it is all about identifying what foods work for you but bearing in mind the primary goal which is keeping your blood sugar within the expected range.

Studies show that over 25 million cases of diabetes are in Africa and a quarter of this number is from Nigeria. According to American Diabetes Association(ADA), when you are managing diabetes and prediabetes, your eating plan is a powerful tool. Even though you may have diabetes, the good news is that it can be controlled naturally or reversed with certain diets.

In this article , I will list some of the Nigeria foods for diabetics so that you can plan and prepare your diet ahead to reduce falling into the temptation of snacking or unhealthy eating.

Does this sound interesting to you? Then let’s dive right into it.


Nigerian foods for diabetics

One of the ways to control your blood sugar level is by eating healthy foods. When it comes to healthy foods, the best bet is to go for natural foods that are low in calories and rank low in the glycemic index. Glycemic index is a measure of the effect of certain foods on blood sugar levels. People that want to control their blood sugar stick to foods that have low to medium glycemic scores. Below are some of the natural foods that will help people living with diabetes in Nigeria manage their blood sugar.


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  • Bitterleaf soup: Bitter leaf is a popular leaf used widely in Nigeria in preparing local delicacies like soups and dishes. Bitterleaf soup is a special delicacy of Igbo tribe of Nigeria. It is also used for medicinal purposes. Studies show that bitter leaf has anti-cancerous properties, regulates blood pressure and also helpful in the management of diabetes.
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  • Afang soup: This soup is peculiar to the Efik and Ibibio tribes of Nigeria. It is rich in vegetables which helps in controlling blood sugar and also reduces weight gain, therefore good for diabetics. Afang is made from Okazi leaves and waterleaves.
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  • Okro soup: Okro is a common and popular vegetable used widely in preparing soups in Nigeria. It is also used in other parts of the world to prepare delicacies. Okra is rich in antioxidants, minerals and other nutrients. It has loads of health benefits aside from helping people with diabetes.
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  • Edikan Ikong: Edikan Ikong soup is a popular Nigerian soup made with fluted pumpkin leaves(ugu) and water leaves. The soup originated from South Southern States of Nigeria. It helps in controlling blood sugar levels because of its rich vegetable content.
  • vegetable soup: This is the same as Edikan Ikong soup which is generally referred to as vegetable soup by Nigerians. This soup is an excellent choice for diabetics.
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  • Ewedu soup: Ewedu soup is a popular soup among the Yorubas in Nigeria. It is made with jute leaves which are known for its medicinal properties. Jute leaves has a lot of health benefits aside from regulating blood sugar levels and stabilizing blood pressure.
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  • Ogbono soup: Ogbono also know as Wild African Mango is used in preparing Nigeran cuisines. The bark, fruit and seeds has been used in African as both food and medicine. Ogbono soup aids in weight loss, lowers cholesterol, regulates blood sugar and keeps blood pressure in check.
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  • Egusi soup: Egusi soup is popular soup in Nigeria. Egusi seeds or pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein, minerals and unsaturated fats including omeda-3. These fats are good choices for a diabetic diet plan and you might consider preparing the egusi soup with bitter leaves though fluted pumpkin and uziza leaves are great alternatives.
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  • Oha soup: Oha or Ora soup is a popular soup in the eastern part of Nigeria. The major ingredient in the preparation of this popular soup is the oha leaf which is rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. It aids digestion and helps in managing blood sugar level amidst other health benefits.
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  • White soup: White soup also known as Nsala soup is peculiar to Igbo people. It is popularly known as ofe nsala by the Igbos. The major leaf used in the preparation of nsala soup is utazi leaf which has antidiabetic properties. The soup helps fight cold too.

Other low carb foods include:

  • Breadfruit: Breadfruit is known as Afon by Yorubas, ukwa by Igbos,“ediang” by Efiks and Ibibios, “Ize” by Benins and “bafafuta” by Hausas. Growing up, it was a common meal for every family but not so now. It is rich in nutrients and high in fiber which makes it a friendly diet for diabetics. One good thing about breadfruit porridge is that it doesn’t need a lot of ingredients, just salt, pepper and onions, and you are good to go.
  • Brown rice (Ofada rice) and stew: Ofada rice is locally grown in Nigeria. It is a type of brown rice. Though people don’t value it much because of its unpolished and refined nature, it contains a lot of vitamins, minerals and fiber which makes it good for diabetic patients. A very good substitute for white rice.
  • Unripe plaintain porridge: One of the best diets for diabetics. Unripe plantains are rich in vitamins, mineral, antioxidants and fiber. It has low sugar and has high resistant starch content which makes it a good choice for diabetics.
  • Nigerian Bean Cake: Popularly known as Moi moi is a good meal that should feature often in the diet plan for diabetics. Beans is rich in protein and minerals and with a low glycemic index , it will not cause spikes in blood sugar levels. It can be eaten with a vegetable sauce.
  • Boiled unripe plantain with vegetable sauce: Aside making unripe platain porridge, unripe plaitains can be boiled and eaten with a vegetable sauce.
  • Roasted unripe plantain with fatty fish sauce: Another way of also enjoying unripe plantains is by roasting and having them with fatty fish sauce so that it will look exciting.
  • Beans: Beans are low in fat and calories but has a high protein content. They are also rich in fiber and rank low in he glycemic index which makes it a good meal for people with diabetes.
  • Bambara nut: Bambara nut is used to prepare a delicacy popularly known as “okpa” among the Igbos. Bambara nuts are packed with vitamins and minerals. They are filling and highly nutritious. It can be boiled and eaten like beans or eaten fresh. They can be ground into powder and used in preparing okpa.

Read also: What Natural Fruits are Good for Diabetics in Nigeria.

Pepper Soups

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  • Fish pepper soup
  • Goatmeat pepper soup
  • Nkwobi
  • Chicken pepper soup
  • Liver pepper soup
  • Snail pepper soup,
  • Gizzard pepper soup

Swallow for diabetics in Nigeria

Apart from the listed soups above, sometimes, there will be need to take some Nigerian swallows with the soups. Some Nigerian swallows are also very healthy for diabetics and a few of them have been listed and explained below:

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Wheatmeal swallow: Wheat meal is one of the swallows on the menu of Nigerians that serves as an alternative for eba. It is healthy and has a lot of fiber which helps in controlling blood sugar and weight reduction. Wheat meal ranks low in the glycemic index and has no calorie which makes it ideal for diabetic patients.

Get the wheat grains from the market and ground into powder. Pour small quantity of water in the pot and allow to boil. once it starts boiling, pour the required quantity that you need and stir fast so that seeds will not form. After turning it for 3 minutes. add a small amount of hot water, cover the pot and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes. Turn again and scoop it out. Your wheatmeal is ready for consumption with a delicious soup. Its simple to prepare.

Red millet swallow: Red millet swallow is a good choice for diabetics because it has a low glycemic index and a high fiber content. Fiber slows down the digestion process and causes glucose to be absorbed slowly into the bloodstream thereby reducing the risk of blood sugar spikes.

Its mode of preparation is the same as that of the wheat meal swallow.

Unripe plantain flour meal: In Nigeria, unripe plantains are used widely by diabetics to manage their blood sugar levels. Unripe plantains are rich in fiber and resistant starch. They help in weight management and control blood sugar levels.

Unripe plantain fufu can either be prepared with fresh plantains or with the dried flour. For the fresh plantains, peel and slice the fingers that you need into pieces and blend with one or two cups of water . Transfer the content to a pot and stir over a fire until it forms a thick paste. cover the pot and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir it again for 1-2 minutes and scoop out the meal. Serve with a soup.

For the dried flour, peel your unripe plantains, cut into tiny slices and dry either in the sun or in a dehydrator. Grind into powder afterwards and store in a container for use. Follow the same procedure as that of wheat meal fufu.

Oatmeal swallow: Oats are highly nutritious and filling, rich in antioxidants and help control blood sugar levels. They are also high in fiber and an excellent choice for diabetics. Oatmeal swallow is made with raw oats which are grounded into a smooth powder to make oat flour.

Pour the required quantity into a boiling pot and give it a fast stir until it forms a thick paste. Add little quantity of hot water to it, cover and allow to boil for 2-3 minutes. Stir again for 2 minutes and the oatmeal is ready for consumption. Serve with your desired soup.

Amala Swallow: Amala is one of Nigeria’s solid food and mostly eaten by the Yorubas. It is made from yam or cassava. Amala is rich in fiber and light in nature when prepared.

Pour one or two cups of water in a pot depending on the quantity of the amala flour and allow to boil. Pour the flour slowly into the pot and stir fast until it forms a paste. Add a little quantity of hot water and cover and allow to boil for a minute. Stir until the water is incorporated into the amala. Scoop it out and serve with your desired soup.

Healthy snacks

On Nigerian foods for diabetics, some snacks are also considered healthy for diabetics. Find below some of the suggested snacks that a diabetic can take while still maintaining a healthy living.

  • Garden egg with peanut butter
  • Boiled groundnuts
  • Akara balls
  • Tiger nuts
  • Nigerian boiled or roasted corn with pear
  • Roasted or fried Breadfruit
  • Walnuts

Healthy drinks

  • Tiger nut drink
  • Zobo drink without artificial sweetener
  • Kuunu drink without artificial sweetener
  • Natural fruit juices

Avoiding processed or humanly modified foods is the first step to managing your diabetes and keeping your blood level in check. As a diabetic, your meal plan and physical activity form the integral part of the healthy lifestyle that you need. Keep to your diet plan and eat in moderation.

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Paschal Achunine
Paschal Achunine
Paschal Achunine Is the founder of Health Emergency Initiative(HEI) for Indigent patients. HEI stands as next -of-kin to indigent patients in public hospitals and also for road accident victims.

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