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Nutrition- What is in matooke?

By Vision Reporter

Added 26th July 2009 03:00 AM

MATOOKE is Buganda’s traditional dish and one of the most common foods in Uganda. The green plantains are peeled and cooked in water or steamed in banana leaves.

By Rebecca Harshbarger

MATOOKE is Buganda’s traditional dish and one of the most common foods in Uganda. The green plantains are peeled and cooked in water or steamed in banana leaves.

When ready, matooke turns soft and yellow. Some people mash it, while others do not. Matooke is usually served with groundnut sauce, meat, or vegetables.

You may have eaten matooke countless times, but do you understand its nutritional value, and how it affects your body?

Food scientist Umar Mutuya, based in Kampala, says matooke is primarily made up of water. For every plate of matooke, three-fourths of it comprises water.

One-fourth is carbohydrates, which the body breaks into simple sugars for energy.

One serving of matooke has the same amount of energy calories as a cup of rice or a cup of chopped-up roasted chicken.

Matooke has almost no protein, according to Mutuya. In order to have a balanced meal, matooke should be eaten with a food that is rich in protein, or served with a meat sauce.

Matooke is rich in potassium, with one serving having as much potassium as two-and-a -half glasses of milk, or two-and-a-half bananas.

Potassium plays a major role in regulating one’s blood pressure — diets high in salt and low in potassium can lead to high blood pressure.

Reducing one’s salt intake and increasing the potassium you consume through matooke and other potassium-rich foods can help you either maintain a healthy blood pressure or reduce it if it is too high.

“The potassium in matooke helps to regulate blood pressure,” says nutritionist Boniface Mutatina, adding that it may reduce the risk of stroke and high blood pressure.”

Matooke also has small levels of Vitamin C, but is not a major source of micronutrients, which boost the immune system.

If you want to increase how much Vitamin C you take, it would be better to absorb it through mangoes, oranges, pineapples and other fruits that are Vitamin C rich.

Matooke is very low in fibre — to get the amount of fibre you would require in one day from matooke, you would need to eat more than four full plates.

Avocado, brown bread, groundnuts and mangoes are a better source of fibre than matooke. According to Mutatina, matooke is an excellent meal for children, since it is easy to digest and children are rarely allergic to it.

“It is a good meal for infants because it has no fat, is easy to digest and very few babies are allergic to it,” he says.

According to Dr. David Ssali, a naturopathic doctor, the way matooke is prepared often sacrifices the small amounts of potassium and Vitamin C it has.

“Because of the method of cooking, it doesn’t have enough nutrients,” says Ssali. “When cooking matooke, it should be steamed in its peel,” he adds.

Steaming matooke in the peel helps it to retain micronutrients that might have ordinarily been lost through cooking, making it more nutritious.

Robert Mwadime, a nutritional advisor for the Regional Centre for Quality Healthcare, says matooke is a good dish for people trying to reduce their weight, particularly if they are struggling with obesity, which increases one’s risk of heart disease and diabetes.

“If I wanted to lose weight, I would eat small amounts of matooke, since it’s bulky and has a lot of water,” says Mwadime.

For those looking to increase their weight or want a food that will give them more energy, Mwadime recommends posho and potatoes as a better source of calories than matooke.

Nutrition- What is in matooke?

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