Ugali kibandaski: Governor cooks, serves ugali in a roadside kiosk

According to the UK's National Health Service (NHS), the GI is a rating system for foods containing carbohydrates; it shows how quickly each food affects your blood sugar (glucose) level when that food is eaten on its own.

"Carbohydrate foods that are broken down quickly by your body and cause a rapid increase in blood glucose have a high GI rating," says the NHS.

So, the whole grain ugali, which has a low GI, is absorbed slowly. This ensures that your stomach remains full for long. It also helps prevent obesity, as well as manage diabetes.

The whole grain ugali is, thus, suitable for people living with diabetes. Ugali from refined flour, which is being consumed by a majority of Kenyans, has a high GI rating.

"It is digested faster and absorbed quickly. This causes a spike in blood glucose and therefore not good for people living with diabetes," Vivian Odhiambo, a nutritionist, writes on

Good source of fibre

Ugali is also a good source of fibre, which helps in preventing constipation, effective blood sugar balance, and the management of diabetes.

Nutritionist Odhiambo says ugali is also a documented source of Vitamin B.

"Ugali is a good source of B-vitamins, especially Thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), and Niacin (B3). It also contains some Folate (B9) which is needed especially by pregnant women," she says in her journal.

According to Medical News Today, B-vitamins are important for making sure the body's cells are functioning properly.

"They help the body convert food into energy (metabolism), create new blood cells, and maintain healthy skin cells, brain cells, and other body tissues," says the health website.

Ugali is rich in minerals including calcium, iron, sodium, magnesium, selenium and zinc, which help in bone and teeth development, hemoglobin formation, growth regulation, regulation of acid-base balance in the body as well as energy metabolism.

It is important to note that minerals and vitamins in maize flour reduce with storage period. Always check the date of manufacture, buy the latest bag of flour and use it soon.

Direct sunlight speeds up the loss of the added minerals and vitamins. It is, therefore, advisable that you always keep your flours away from direct sunlight.

Globally, consumption of whole grains is at 23 per cent of recommended level, says a Lancet report.

So, with the high prices of maize flour in Kenyan retail stores, are there cheaper alternatives to ugali - with equal nutritional value? The answer is yes.

They include sorghum, finger millet, cassava, rice or hominy grits.

For instance, a kilogramme of cassava goes for Sh45 in many rural retail stores. If it's grounded into flour, the value addition pushes the price up. However, the cost of milling in the rural settings remains low compared to the urban centres, where the final product could cost you up to Sh120 for a kilogramme of cassava.

The prices of the other alternatives to maize flour - sorghum, rice and millet - also remain relatively low.