The popular delicacy Bole is a very delicious meal known to most cities in the South-South particularly Port Harcourt. Different cities have their various ways of preparing this meal -for the easterners it is the normal roasted tuber of yam and palm oil, for Lagosians it is the roasted plantain accompanied with groundnut and for the PH people it is the roasted yam, plantain, fish and Palm oil sauce, lately we have the sweet potato added to this lovely meal. However, you choose to enjoy this delicious meal is not the center of our discussion, but to know how healthy this meal is. Speaking with a Medical practitioner in a short interview on the nutritional value and health effect of this delicacy.
The local delicacy Bole (roasted plantain), which is now used as an umbrella term for roasted plantain, yam and fish, is a healthy meal especially when prepared right. PLANTAIN is a very good source of starch and energy. It contains a high amount of fiber, which aids bowel movements and reduces constipation. It is also a rich source of Vitamin A, C and B complex including folic acid. Vitamin B and C are very good antioxidants helping to repair damaged tissues and boost body functioning. Plantain is also high in essential minerals as Iron, Magnesium, potassium and calcium. Calcium aids the development of strong bones.
YAM is a very good source of complex carbohydrates and energy. It also contains large amounts of Vitamin B. Other vitamins found in yam are vitamin C and vitamin A. Yam has been found to be beneficial in the development of healthy looking skin and hair. It is also said to support the female endocrine system and balance the female hormones. Yam has been found to aid fertility as research has shown a high incidence of twinning in areas where yam is well eaten. Yam has a low “glycemic index” so diabetics can enjoy it, in reasonable proportions. Yam is said to improve cognitive ability, and is also said to prevent cancers such as cancer of the colon. It contains essential minerals necessary for good functioning of the body.
FISH is a low fat, high quality protein, rich in Omega 3 fatty acids (good fatty acids). It is also rich in vitamins A, C and B. Omega 3 fatty acids are not produced in the body so must be gotten from what we eat and fish is a very good source. Omega 3 fatty acids help in the maintenance of a healthy heart by lowering blood pressure, and reducing the risk of sudden death from heart attack, and strokes. They also aid brain function and good vision. It also has been found to decrease the risk of depression, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and arthritis. Fish helps in the maintenance of a good skin, by keeping it supple.
A balanced diet means getting the right types and amounts of food to supply nutrition and energy for maintaining proper body functioning, and support growth and development. Looking at the nutritional contents of this delicacy, it can be seen to contain the necessary types of food groups recommended, though the proportions and the amount per serving would determine if it is a balanced meal or not.
Roasting is a healthy method of cooking, as it limits fat and calorie intake since not much oil is required for roasting. Hence it is highly recommended in weight conscious individuals who wish to maintain a healthy weight. This method of cooking also preserves essential nutrients necessary for body function, without losing the flavor of the food.
‘Bole’ being a healthy meal may also pose other health challenges. These could be due to the food themselves, the mode of preparation or the condiments and spices used. Obesity may arise from frequent, excessive consumption of large portions of this delicacy, due to the high starch contents of the foods. Roast foods have been linked to the development of some cancers including pancreatic and colon cancers. Research has shown that blackened or charred areas on roasted foods have been found to contain chemicals such as acrylamide, which may predispose to cancer by damaging DNA and causing mutations. Also since it is usually eaten with an oily stew or sauce, it could lead to hyperlipidemia (abnormally high levels of fat or cholesterol), which could lead to fatty deposits in arteries and lead to the development of arteriosclerosis (Hardening of arteries due to deposition of fats) and its complications. Large amounts of pepper in the stews or sauces may aggravate existing peptic ulcer disease, while high salt may worsen or contribute to development of high blood pressure. Diarrhea diseases and food poisoning may also occur from unhygienic handling or preparation of the foods especially poor cleaning and preparation of the fish. The smoke from roasting could also lead to conjunctival (eye) irritation, environmental pollution, and respiratory tract irritation which may lead to infection from superimposed micro-organism invasion. Also long term inhalation or exposure to the smoke may lead to chronic lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
People should insist on good hygiene in the preparation of the meals. The accompanying stews or sauces should be served with moderate amounts of oils, pepper and salt. The serving portions should also be moderate so as to maintain a healthy weight, good hygiene and good sanitary conditions is very important to avoid food poisoning. Avoid eating the charred, blackened areas of the roasted foods. Such areas should be scraped off before eating. Avoid long exposure of the foods being roasted to intense heat, so cook with less intense heating and use thinner cuts for faster cooking. As much as possible do not roast directly over the coal, shift the foods to the sides. People who prepare these meals and are constantly exposed to the smoke may wear protective glasses and nose masks to minimize inhalation of the smoke. People roasting this delicacy may keep a reasonable distance from the fireplace when it is not necessary to be there. Electrical and newer combustion fuels with less pollution are being introduced; they should be considered as alternative methods of roasting.
As delicious and interesting the meal ‘Bole’ is, Moderation is the word for everything just like the Holy Bible urges. We s h o u l d e a t moderate quantities and avoid having the burnt part of the fish, plantain, yam or potatoes to stay healthy and alive to keep enjoying this delicacy.
By Ayodeji Faleye