Boost your immune system with a daily intake of zonkom

Madam Nafisah Suleman, a local drink seller, has encouraged Ghanaians to replace fizzy drinks with healthy local alternatives, such as ‘zonkom’ to boost their immune systems.

Madam Suleman said zonkom was the popular name for a spicy fermented millet beverage that originated from the northern part of Ghana.

She said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), as part of Ghana’s heritage month, which is often observed in March, the month of Ghana’s independence from colonial rule, and aimed at promoting the traditions and culture of the various ethnic groupings.

She said the drink was previously prepared with guinea corn but had been modernised with the use of millet which contained essential nutrients such as magnesium, iron, and vitamin B, making the drink a nutrient pack.

Other complementary ingredients for the spicy drink include ginger, cloves, grains of Selim, red chilli pepper, red peppercorn, and a sweetener.

Explaining the rationale behind the spices added, Madam Suleman said ginger c
ontained anti-inflammatory properties, the cloves gave a fine aroma, while grains of selim add a citrus flavour, but the red chilli pepper added a touch of heat, whereas sweetener enhanced the overall taste of the drink.

She explained that to prepare zonkom, millet is soaked for some hours to soften the grain for easy blending into a smooth consistency with the required amount of water, after which it was strained into a bowl.

The blended natural spices are then added to give it an inviting aroma, and then a sweetener is added for the preferred taste.

Mr Samuel Atuahene Antwi, the Nutrition Officer of the Tema Metropolitan Health Directorate, said the iron content in millet, was a vital mineral necessary for red blood cell production, oxygen transport to body organs, and the synthesis of certain hormones.

He told the GNA that the benefits of iron included fortifying the immune system, enhancing sleep, and supporting pregnant women, because iron supplements were an option for those with a deficiency, but t
hey must be taken in moderation.

The Nutrition Officer further said the magnesium content in millet also regulated diverse biomedical reactions, including muscle and nerve functions, blood pressure, and blood glucose control, among others, which were very important for body.

Mr Antwi explained that millet products also provided the body with vitamin B that may help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke, while their deficiency in the body could lead to neural tube birth defects in babies.

Source: Ghana News Agency