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HEALING HERBS: Food treasures

marciadottin, [email protected]

HEALING HERBS: Food treasures

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“Until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter” – African proverb.
I conducted a beautiful head-wrapping demonstration at the Thelma Berry Nursery School as part of Africa History Month celebrations in Barbadian schools. As I demonstrated my various wraps, the African spirit in me flowed which reignited my quest to discover my authentic ethnic group. In fact, I get energised when empowering thoughts about Africa and “silent doctors” flow through my mind.  
This week, the focus is on beans and the Republic of Angola. Angola is the seventh largest state in Africa and its capital is Luanda. Angola is 481 354 square miles and Barbados can fit into it about 2 899 times. The original inhabitants of Angola were the Khoisan speakers. Angola is one of the major oil producers while diamonds, coffee and other minerals are key exports.
In the area of local cuisine, beans with palm oil is a traditional dish of Angola which also contains “silent doctors” onion and garlic. It is often served with funge which is made from corn meal flour and water.  
Beans play a vital role in the diet of Angolans.
They contain many nutrients, including protein, folate, copper, manganese, Vitamin B1, phosphorus, magnesium and iron.
I refer to beans (legumes/pulses) as “the vegetarian’s meat”. Some types of beans are black, soy, mung, navy, lima and chickpeas. Beans can be used to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, they improve diabetics’ blood glucose levels, prevent and sometimes cure constipation, reduce the risk of cancer and regulate the functions of the colon.
Beans have a high degree of antioxidant properties. They contain isoflavones which is similar in structure to estrogen. This means that beans are excellent for people who are going through the journey
of menopause. They will also reduce heart disease, improve bone and prostate health, and treat osteoporosis. Beans are also good for pregnant women and are useful in treating some food allergies.
My grandmother from St Joseph grew all types of beans, including bonavist, runcifers and string beans. Additionally, knowing the importance of beans in the diet propelled me to develop a bean card game for reinforcement during my days as a food and nutrition teacher while at Grantley Adams Memorial School.
Finally, we must become our own historians and go on a quest to understand our authentic roots and the importance of plant-based foods in our diet. As an African I understand that my people do not eat beans because we are poor or starving; instead I know that we eat beans because consciously we know beans are “food treasures”.
• Annette Maynard-Watson, a teacher and herbal educator, may be contacted via [email protected] or by telephone 250-6450.
 DISCLAIMER:?It is not our intention to prescribe or make specific claims for any products. Any attempts to diagnose or treat real illness should come under the direccton of your health care provider.