Fonio is a West African grain that holds a special place in Senegalese culture. It’s a staple in breakfast, lunch, and dinner and plays a key role in local customs and traditions. The fact that it is also gluten-free is inspiring many to call this hardy, tough grain “the new quinoa.”
Fonio is also drought-resistant, can grow in poor soil, and requires no pesticides as part of its cultivation, making it an excellent crop as climate becomes warmer and more unpredictable.
Fonio might be a tiny type of millet, but there’s a ton of nutritional value in this grain. It’s rich in amino acids — specifically methionine, which helps the liver process fat, and cystine, which is part of the proteins that make up our hair, nails, and skin, and also helps remove toxins from the liver and brain.
Fonio is also one of the grains highest in magnesium, zinc, and manganese. But there may be some reason to beware: One study has linked fonio and other types of millet to hypothyroidism(when the thyroid doesn’t produce enough of certain hormones) and possible development of autism in children whose mothers ingested too much during pregnancy… but further research on both subjects is needed before conclusions can be drawn.
This video from National Geographic is a perfect introduction to this incredible grain.