Igikoma: The wonder dish

Millet porridge or ‘igikoma’ is a favourite breakfast for many people - young and old - in Rwanda. It is also enjoyed by athletes and breastfeeding mothers. But does it have any health benefits?
A child enjoys a cup of igikoma. (Timothy Kisambira)
A child enjoys a cup of igikoma. (Timothy Kisambira)

Millet porridge or ‘igikoma’ is a favourite breakfast for many people — young and old — in Rwanda. It is also enjoyed by athletes and breastfeeding mothers. But does it have any health benefits? 

According to Joseph Uwiragiye, a nutritionist at the University Teaching Hospital (CHUK), eating porridge regularly is healthy.

“Porridge is a rich source of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber inhibits the body’s absorption of low density lipoprotein. It offers many cardiovascular benefits, including a reduced risk of developing high blood pressure,” Uwiragiye says.

He adds that porridge contains protein, zinc, iron, magnesium, antioxidants, vitamin B, vitamin E and phytochemicals which are helpful in boosting the body’s immune system.

Uwiragiye explains that igikoma is good for appetite regulation because it has a high amount of dietary fiber which helps to keep someone satisfied and prevent gluttony. Research shows that one can maintain or lose weight when they avoid overeating. Fiber also helps keep blood-sugar levels on an even keel and reduces the risk for high cholesterol.

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Igikoma is highly nutritious. (Donah Mbabazi)

Igikoma also contains carbohydrates which are needed for optimal brain function and energy through the course of the day. Nutritionists say millet porridge contains a high amount of complex carbs, which get digested at a slow pace. This helps provide lasting energy.

It is also necessary for the transportation of oxygen since it contains Iron which is used for the production of myoglobin and hemoglobin, which join forces with red blood cells to carry oxygen to the muscles and all other areas of the body.

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Milk is one of the ingredients in Igikoma

Igikoma ensures faster recovery of the body. The porridge has a high content of phosphorus which is stored in the bones, helping with energy production, filtering of waste through the kidneys and muscle recovery after intense exercise.

If one wants strong bones, igikoma is one food they must make part of them because it contains calcium which helps to strengthen teeth and bones. Research also shows that it plays a role in hormone secretion, nerve transmission and muscle function.

Igikoma boosts immunity too. It contains Vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin that the body needs for vision, cell and tissue growth and reproduction. It is also an antioxidant which helps destroy free radicals and reduces the risk of chronic disease.

How to prepare porridge Ingredients

l 125 grams of sosoma (sorghum, soya, and maize flour mixed in equal proportions)
l 4 cups of boiling water equivalent to 2 liters
l 1 cup or 1/4 litre of cold water
l 12 teaspoons of sugar (optional)

Directions

l Mix Sosoma with 1 cup of cold water.
l Add this mixture to the boiling water and stir gently for 5 to 10 minutes.
l Allow it to cool for several minutes and then add sugar (if you must).

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