In Nigeria, Consumers of SUYA, the popular barbecued beef, have been enjoined to always ensure that plenty of onions, cabbage, tomatoes and other vegetables were eaten along with it.
A Professor of Community and Public Health Nutrition at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Ngozi Nnam, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.
Suya is generally made with skewered beef, ram, or chicken. Sometimes, offals like kidney, liver, gizzard and tripe are also used. The thinly sliced meat is marinated in various spices, these include pepper, the popular suya spices, peanut cake, salt, vegetable oil and other flavourings, and then barbecued.
According to Nnam, there is a link between suya consumption and increased risk of cancer.
She however noted that the consumption of suya garnished with onions and other vegetables has a strong cancer-lowering effect.
The Don who explained that eating Suya can actually cause cancer, stressed that this comes from the reaction of meat and the smoke during the meat preparation which also results in a toxic compound that can cause cancer.
She reiterated that the smoking of the meat is what actually causes cancer and these also include some metabolites from food. What is important is to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables to increase antioxidants in the body.
She said the antioxidants can neutralise or react with the toxic metabolite from food to prevent cancer. According to her, Suya is better eaten with onions and cabbage because they react with the toxic substance produced by smoke to prevent cancer.
The nutritionist, however, urged Nigerians to consume more of fish than beef, stating that the major benefit of eating beef was that it provided needed protein for the individual. But it healthier to eat fish than meat because some fish contain omega 6 fatty acid which is good for the body.
She added that Omega 6 fatty acid is also very good for infants because it is required for proper brain development.’’
The professor however warned against the consumption of smoked fish, positing that the problem with smoked fish is the toxic substance produced by the smoke. She therefore advised that if grilled, it is better than smoking the fish.