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Opinions of Sunday, 6 April 2014

Columnist: Sadik, Alhassan Abubakar

Dawadawa: An alternative spice for magie cube

The clamour, with which many Ghanaians have embraced modern eating lifestyles, is a source of worry to many health practitioners and the Nutritionists alike who are to ensure that a well-balanced diets is been taken into our body system.

This worrying sentiment became even more alarming since many Ghanaians have substituted natural and nutritious based locally made condiments or spices such as “Dawadawa” paste to magie which are in different forms, some in a whitish and others in a cube forms and oblivious of its health implications.

However, the Dawadawa paste is made from the fermented seeds of the African locust bean plant and processed to make a black, highly aromatic paste used in soups and stew, but modernity with its inherent problems has come to change our eating preferences and either advertently or inadvertently results in eaten hazardous magie cubes, which has its own health challenges. Some years back, chronic diseases which used to be endemic in the Western world because of their lavish eating lifestyles are now prevalent in Ghana.

For instance, research has shown that cardiovascular disease is among the top three causes of mortality in USA, alone. Also sicknesses such as hypertension, obesity, diabetes, stroke and coronary artery disease, which were not prevalent in Ghana, are the ones inundated in our health institutions today. These worrying phenomenon cannot certainly be swept under the carpet since undoubtedly the advent of magie has brought many of these ailments, claiming many precious lives and ought to be tackled head-on; in order to save millions of monies government spent on our health, which otherwise could have been used for other developmental purposes.

The Northern Regional Director of Ghana Health Service, Dr Akwesi Twumasi, at a forum disclosed that, hypertension cases in the region rose from 1500 in 2010 to 3000 in 2012, while diabetes cases also went up from 2000 to 3000 cases in the same years. These developments to me certainly should not be a pleasing one to the relevant stakeholders in the health sector since the greater number of these sicknesses were attributable to eaten habits and could be avoided if all quests would be taken to curb the situation to the barest minimum, if not completely eradicated.

Personally, I am of the humble view that if we really want to save lives from some of these sicknesses, then there should be a paradigm shift in going back to what our forbearers used to be eating a decade ago such as “Dawadawa” which has proven to be the best food spices and has stand the test of time. The media in Ghana today could also partly be blamed for most of these issues because of the outpouring of numerous adverts on our media networks and the lack of effective regulatory measures by the authorities responsible to deal with the situation. Study conducted reveled that; magie was first originated in china, used as a flavor enhancer, and is obviously responsible for the quick change of tastes of our foods. It is undeniable that the incidences of hypertension, obesity, stroke and coronary artery disease is on the ascendancy in the country and most of these could be attributed to bad eating habits such as excessive magie consumption. Some researchers are of the opinion that consumption of magie could lead to hyper toxicity of cells and can predispose the body cells to cancer. Some researchers are also of the view that magie contains hydrogenated fat which is associated with increased levels of bad cholesterol and decreased levels of good cholesterol and can cause heart failure.

DAWADAWA HEALTH BENEFITS Scientific research shows that Dawadawa has a high protein and fat content; and a huge deposit of vitamins needed for the proper functioning of the human body; which the nutritional components in it can contribute significantly to alleviating the widespread nutritional problems in Ghana if incorporated well into our daily meals. In an interview to Adam Salamatu, a resident of Tamale, as to why women result in using magie in their food. She indicated that apart from the taste it gives in foods, the men usually complains about sicknesses such as abdominal pains, excessive salivation and general body discomfort among others. She was quick to add that the husband always complains about the poor taste of the food when magie is not added; hence the usage of magie at all times in their food preparation. I want to conclude by saying that, since magie has proven to be a killer, given the enormous health threats it posed on us as a people, then emphasis must be made by the government to promote the usage of Dawadawa within the Ghanaian society, in other to prolong life expectancy rate in Ghana.

However, the behavior change with this phenomenon would be the daunting task to contend with. But critically if as a nation we really mean business, we can embark upon an aggressive advocacy program that would drum home the need to reverse back to eating dawadawa. This I think calls for stakeholders in the health sector to live up to their bidden in order to combat the intake of silent killer, the magie cube, for a massive productivity needed for the development of this country.

BY MUNTALA JABIR The writer is a final year Community Nutrition student of the University for Development Studies in Tamale campus. EMAIL; This peace became necessary through the support and encouragement from Alhassan Abubakar Sadik, ISD-Reporter in Tamale.

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