Skip to main content

FunTimes Magazine

Traditional African Diets and Modern Health: How African Eating Habits Can Improve Your Well-Being

Apr 08, 2023 12:00PM ● By Anand Subramanian

Images: Various African dishes. Source: Wikimedia Commons

With its vast expanse and diverse geography and cultures, Africa is the second-largest continent on Earth. Its history dates back to ancient times, and its populace comprises numerous tribes, languages, and traditions. The African diet, abundant in nutrients, has been associated with various health benefits, unlike modern Western diets, which typically include processed foods, unhealthy fats, and high sugar content. This article will explore how integrating traditional African eating patterns into your diet can enhance your general health and welfare.

African diets may be traced back to prehistoric times when our forefathers survived on various foods they hunted, collected, and grew. Africa has long been rich in natural resources, including a diverse range of fruits, vegetables, and animal products that have supported its people's meals for ages. African diets have developed and altered in response to changing environmental, cultural, and economic situations. Through commerce and colonization, new foods and cooking techniques have been introduced, creating fusion cuisines that combine native African ingredients and cooking methods with foreign influences.

Traditional African diets vary by region but consistently include plenty of vegetables, fruits, grains, and lean meats. These diets are high in nutrients and low in processed foods and added sugars, typical in Westernized diets. One of the essential advantages of a traditional African diet is its capacity to lower the risk of chronic illnesses, including diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.

Related articles:

A Tanzanian meal complete with Ndizi Mboga Pili Pili Chapati Pilau Kuku Mishkaki and Maharage Image by Tcg1111 via Wikimedia Commons httpscommonswikimediaorgwikiFileTraditional_Tanzanian_food_-_pilau_kuku_mishkaki_ndizi_26cJPG

Celebrate Tanzania Independence with these 7 Local Tanzanian Dishes

Happy Independence Day, Tanzania! On December 9th, 1961, this East African country gained independence from Britain. To celebrate the country’s indigenous culture, and varying influences ... Read More » 


 A Zambian food fair Image by Bioversity International via Flickr httpswwwflickrcomphotosbioversity19363791890

Celebrate Zambia’s Independence with these 7 Zambian Dishes

Happy Independence Day, Zambia! On October 24th, 1964, this Southern African country gained independence from the United Kingdom. To celebrate, we’re exploring 7 of the country’s most del... Read More » 


 L to R Image by Omotayo Tajudeen via Pexels Image by Kampus Production via Pexels Photo by Jeanetta Richardson-Anhalt from Pexels Image by ZSM via Wikimedia Commons httpscommonswikimediaorgwikiFileLight_soup_with_fufuJPG She-crab soup Image by Jo Anna Barber via Wikimedia Commons httpscommonswikimediaorgwikiFileShe-Crab_Soupjpg Image via Flickr httpswwwflickrcomphotoskiryu4727926080inphotostream Pepper Pot Image by Simon Abrams via Wikimedia Commons httpscommonswikimediaorgwikiFilePepperpot_16135006279jpg

Celebrate National Soup Month with these Cultural Dishes of the African Diaspora

Happy National Soup Month! The benefits of soup are numerous and provide the body with nutrients and soothing warmth during the cold months. Read More » 


Image: Man enjoying African food. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Another advantage of a typical African diet is its effect on intestinal health. These diets are high in fiber and prebiotics, aiding the growth of beneficial gut flora. A healthy gut microbiota has been linked to various health advantages, including better digestion, a more robust immune system, and enhanced mental health. Traditional African diets provide additional advantages for pregnant and lactating women. These diets are heavy in iron, necessary for a fetus's proper growth.

Furthermore, traditional African diets frequently include eating wild greens and other plant-based foods vital in antioxidants and other nutrients that help encourage healthy breast milk production. Geographical variances are reflected in changes in this entire meal, most notably in the stew's components. Coastal locations and rich highlands have the most significant diversity of members. Flavorings and spiciness have varied primarily because of trading history.

Notwithstanding the benefits of traditional African diets, many Africans have abandoned them in favor of Westernized diets that are frequently rich in processed foods, added sweets, and harmful fats. The good news is that traditional African foods may be included in a modern diet to boost general health. One approach to accomplish this is to consume more fruits and vegetables. These foods are abundant in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, forming an essential element of the traditional African diet. Another option to include traditional African meals into a modern diet is to swap nutritious grains.

Related articles:



We have some unique dishes for you if you are bold enough to consume anything. Read More » 


Importance of Gastronomy Tourism in Africa

Importance of Gastronomy Tourism in Africa

Gastronomy is much more than just-food. It represents distinct peoples' cultures, history, customs, and feelings of community. Read More » 


The 5 Best Desserts from the African Diaspora

There are a variety of African desserts, some influenced by the foreign civilizations who settled on the continent, and others based on ingredients that are naturally accessible in the area. Read More » 


 Anand Subramanian is a freelance photographer and content writer based out of Tamil Nadu, India. Having a background in Engineering always made him curious about life on the other side of the spectrum. He leapt forward towards the Photography life and never looked back. Specializing in Documentary and  Portrait photography gave him an up-close and personal view into the complexities of human beings and those experiences helped him branch out from visual to words. Today he is mentoring passionate photographers and writing about the different dimensions of the art world.

Read more from Anand Subramanian:

The Role of African Women in Shaping the Continents Future

The Role of African Women in Shaping the Continent's Future

African women have played an essential part in defining the continent's future by defying preconceptions, breaking down obstacles, and leading revolutionary projects. Read More » 


The Beauty of African Art Exploring the Richness of the Continents Creative Expression

The Beauty of African Art: Exploring the Richness of the Continent's Creative Expression

African art demonstrates the continent's people's ingenuity and talent. Read More » 


Photo by Pepe Caspers from Pexels

5 African Travel Blogs to Feed Your Travel Goals

For many travelers, the opportunity to travel widely over the vast African continent is one of the greatest joys. Africa is a continent full of beautiful people, magnificent scenery, and... Read More »