Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Suya Eaters Advised to Eat Onions And Other Vegetables Along With the Grilled Meat

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Tasty Suya and Tomatoes

Prof. Ignatius Onimawo, a food nutritionist has warned that that except there is deliberate effort to imbibe healthier dietary and lifestyle habits over the next 10 years, cancer and other Non Communicable Diseases, NCDs, will increase by more than 27 percent in developing countries like Nigeria, compared to 17 percent in the developed world.

Focusing especially on cancer, the prof remarked that studies to try to look at the aetiology of the disease, to find out where it all started, traced the incidence of cancer in Nigeria to suya consumption.

This he said was because “During preparation of suya, the  meat is cooked over an open fire, and oils from the meat undergo complex chemical reactions that produce toxins such as Heterocyclic Amines, HCAs that are carcinogenic (cancer-causing) in nature. The more well-done a meat is cooked, the higher concentration of carcinogenic HCA’s can form."

As a way to prevent the formation of these HCAs, the nutritionist explained why it is important to eat the Suya with the necessary spices, onions and vegetables.

Explaining that cancer is due to  oxidative processes in the body, He said onions are powerful antioxidants  that  effectively stop the oxidative process triggerred by consumption of suya from  taking place.

Further, Onimawo said one of the outcomes of the findings was that women who consume suya, are more prone to cancer (breast cancer) than men because they (women) tend to consume just the suya and ignore the vegetables.

Men eat onions, women eat suya: “This is practically proven. Many young men, take girls out and buy suya to entertain them. Normally, apart from the spices sprinkled on the meat, the suya is served with slices of onions, cabbage and tomatoes in some cases.

“The onion and other vegetables are actually added to act as antidote to the effect of the oil from the suya. Onions neutralise the oxidative effect of the chemicals in the oil and help prevent cancer,  but because the young man wants to impress the girl, he will be eating the onions, while the girl eats the suya. At the end of the day he is preventing cancer, unknowingly, while the girl is eating the cancer.

“Much of this information needs to be made more available. I’m not saying suya is bad, on the contrary, it is a great delicacy, but beneficial only when eaten in moderation and along with the onion and cabbage, he stated.”

A number  of  studies support the use of local spices such as ginger, clove, red pepper, black pepper, onion, thyme, oregano and garlic in a meat marinade before grilling also drastically reduce any carcinogens that normally would form on grilled meat.

The suya sauce, a.k.a. Yaji, comprising most of these spices is believed to help ameliorate possible negative effects of the roasted red meat.  However, findings link excessive consumption to  possible kidney damage.
When meat is cooked in a water base as opposed to grilling, HCAs are eliminated. Meat cooked in a soup or  pot will not have carcinogenic HCAs and is a healthier way to cook meat.
- See more at: Vanguard
- Image via Suyahut


  1. Myne - you have a lot of people who read your site to gain information. I would advise that you verify information - especially ones that have such serious health implications. Where was this research study conducted, what was the sample size, what statistical tests were done. Was it retrospective or longitudinal study, has it been published in a peer reviewed journal? This sounds like a regular guy giving his own opinion (e.g. men eat onions..this is proven) - did he survey suya eaters (male vs female to see who eats onion pass ei friend?) There are ways of passing on a healthy eating message without scare mongering.

    1. Hi Enyamy, you're right that this is an opinion, though he says they have carried out some research. I tried to play doen the cancer angle, but I do think he makes a genuine point and that is why I shared the article.


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