Most Nigerians and households in the North-West have switched their preference from imported rice to locally grown one, a sequel to their discovery of nutritious and healthy components of the latter.
A survey conducted by NAN in the six states of the geopolitical zone indicated that before the closure of Nigeria’s borders, foreign rice was the first choice of many of them.
However, after months of ‘forced’ consumption of local rice, occasioned by border closure, households seem to have realised the nutritional difference between the two categories of rice.
Commenting on the issue, the Zamfara chairman of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Nasiru Sani, said consumption of local rice “is highly recommended” as it reduces sleep disorder, among other health challenges.
“Nigerian rice helps in reducing sleep disorder, as it has anti-ageing property. It’s good for pregnant women, fights cancer, protects the heart, boosts immunity and prevents constipation, among others,” Mr Sani said.
According to the nutrition expert, rice also contains high fibre that is good for human health.
“One of the nutrients present in Nigerian local rice is fibre, which helps in the digestion process, thereby preventing digestion disorder. Our local rice controls blood sugar and diabetes because of the presence of soluble fibre,” he explained. “It also has high carbohydrate content, making it one of the carbohydrate food sources in Nigeria, and also provides adequate energy because of its calorie content, without necessarily causing weight gain.”
Mr Sani also stated that the magnesium contained in local rice helps in the bone structure and helps absorb calcium.
He added, “The presence of magnesium in Nigerian local rice also helps in the maintenance and improvement of the nervous system. The local rice is properly enriched with magnesium and selenium, which are two important nutrients that are necessary for protecting the heart from cardiovascular-related diseases. Also, the low saturated fat content is vital for the proper conditioning of the heart.”
Another nutritionist from the Kebbi Ministry of Agriculture, Muhammad Ja’afar, explained that the unpolished Nigerian rice helps regulate blood sugar levels, controlling diabetes.