Nutritionist suggests eating bananas, corn, sweet potato

Nutritionist suggests eating bananas, corn, sweet potato
SunStar Local News GPX

A PUBLIC health nutritionist has said that bananas, root crops, corn and its rice variant are the best alternative food options, being both cost-effective and “healthier” than the staple food, white rice.

This suggestion comes as the National Government anticipates a steady rise in rice prices until July of this year, bringing concerns over food affordability and nutritional intake to the forefront.

Nasudi Soluta, officer-in-charge of the National Nutrition Council Central Visayas (NCC 7), stressed the importance of exploring alternatives to rice, especially amid price hikes that may strain household budgets.

She said that several readily available options in local markets offer not only affordability but also enhanced health benefits compared to rice.

“Actually, we have a lot of available options as rice substitutes that are fit to the Filipino diet, just like sweet potatoes, bananas (cardava), sweet potatoes, corn, just like that. Basically, root crops,” she said on April 12, 2024.

Soluta also said that eating noodle dish can also be an alternative if the community is accustomed to eating this dish, but she said usually as Filipinos, the best option are the “lagotmon” or root crops.

She added that they have been advocating for these rice options in the nutrition council for years already.

Aside from offering protein and carbohydrates similar to plain white rice, these alternatives are rich in fiber. Additionally, she noted that bananas contain vitamins and minerals that rice does not have, while yellow sweet potatoes are high in iron and Vitamin A.

Soluta added that these options are filling or they provide greater satiety compared to rice because of their higher fiber content, promoting sustained energy levels.

She added that these options are healthier for diabetic persons.

Soluta said that corn rice, commonly found in Cebuano households, is a good option too, noting its uniqueness to the province.

“Mais rice is a very Cebu-community diet. The nice thing about corn rice is that it’s higher in fiber and higher in vitamin A,” she said.

According to a 2018 study by the Philippine Social Science Council, Cebu’s limited rice production is attributed to factors like soil type and insufficient irrigation infrastructure, rendering it unsuitable for rice cultivation.

Instead, the province excels in corn production, being the top contributor in Central Visayas.

Data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics in 2012 revealed that Cebu accounts for 55.2 percent of the total corn-growing area in Central Visayas, amounting to 113,892 hectares out of the region’s total of 206,270 hectares.

Rice inflation

Last week, the Philippine Statistics Authority projected that rice prices could potentially continue to rise until July 2024.

In March 2024, rice inflation reached 24.4 percent, surpassing February 2024’s rate of 23.7 percent.

In March 2024, the rice inflation rate hit its highest point in the past 15 years, exceeding the 24.6 percent recorded in February 2009.

Inflation refers to the general increase in prices of goods and services over time, leading to a decrease in the purchasing power of money.

“Our expectation is it will increase strongly until July because of the low base effect... unless there is an intervention that will happen in the market that will bring down prices,” National Statistician and PSA chief Claire Dennis Mapa.

He said prices of rice may gradually slow down by August 2024.

Based on a recent monitoring update in a public market in Lapu-Lapu City, a kilo of Lion Ivory rice is priced at P60 per kilo, Ganador at P62, and Friendship at P62, while, a kilo of corn rice is only priced at P48. / KJF


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