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Millets - The much-needed superfood

Let's explore millets and how they can improve our overall health

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27 Sep '23
5 min read


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In South India, we have a strong culture of eating rice and rice-based foods. However, our sedentary lifestyle doesn't really support the intake of too much rice or calories. That is where superfood millets come into the picture. Millets are a group of cereal grains that belong to the grass family. Not only are they rich in fibre, essential amino acids and antioxidants, they also contain essential minerals like phosphorus and magnesium. They are also known to help control cholesterol and blood sugar levels. They are also gluten-free, so people with celiac disease or allergies to gluten can also consume them without any worry. Now, that’s too many benefits packed into one!

Millets were mostly used to feed livestock and birds but today, knowing the benefits of millets, humans are looking to include millets in their diet for better health. 

Why choose millets?

Help in easy digestion

Millets are full of fibre which aids in easy bowel movements and it helps to keep your tummy full without feeling hungry often. Millets also have prebiotics which aids in improving gut health and the immune system. Even people who are intolerant to gluten (celiac disease) can consume millets without worrying about discomfort. 

Reduce risk of diabetes

Millets help control blood glucose levels in people with diabetes mellitus. In fact, millets are now prescribed by gynaecologists to women with gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy). Millets have made it easier to control blood sugar levels in pregnant women without having to feel hungry. 

Improving mood

Millets contain tryptophan, an amino acid that can reduce the risk of anxiety and depression. 

Aids in weight loss

Millets contain fibre and protein to keep you full longer without compromising on nutrition. This reduces the need for unhealthy snacking. 

Improves cardiovascular health

Millets are full of soluble fibre, which trap fat in your gut and can lower the cholesterol level in your blood. That can help reduce your chances of atherosclerosis, or heart disease. Millets are good sources of magnesium, too, which may prevent heart failure.

Types of Millets and their benefits

  1. Ragi (Finger Millet): Ragi is a powerhouse of nutrition filled with protein and amino acids. Traditionally Ragi is the food that is introduced to infants as the first solid food as it aids in brain and physical development. Ragi is versatile and can be used to make idlis, dosa, roti and mudde. 
  2. Jowar (Sorghum): Jowar is commonly used to make rotis. They are filled with iron, protein and fibre and it can help reduce cholesterol levels as it contains policosanols. 
  3. Foxtail millet: Foxtail millet has healthy blood sugar balancing carbohydrates, and it is popularly available in the form of semolina and rice flour. The presence of iron and calcium in this millet helps in strengthening immunity.
  4. Bajra (Pearl millet): Pearl Millet is packed with magnesium and potassium, which play crucial roles in dilating blood vessels and promoting improved blood circulation. Regular consumption of this wonder millet helps reduce LDL cholesterol, preventing the formation of arterial blockages.
  5. Little millet: Little millet is the ideal replacement for rice as they are packed with magnesium, niacin and phosphorus that aid in weight loss and tissue repair and energy production after workouts.  
  6. Barnyard millet: It is a rich source of calcium and phosphorus necessary for bone building. It also has high fibre content which can help in weight loss
  7. Rajgira or Amaranth: Rajgira is also rich in iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Amaranth grain contains 6 to 10 per cent unsaturated oil that is good for your health. It is also a good source of Vitamin C and Calcium and is very easy to digest. 
  8. Kodo millet:  Kodo millet is easy to digest, it contains a high amount of lecithin and is excellent for strengthening the nervous system. Regular consumption of kodo millet is very beneficial for postmenopausal women suffering from signs of cardiovascular diseases. Its higher iron level helps tackle anaemia, its high protein and fibre content make it a diabetic-friendly grain. It works as a blood purifier; aids in kidney functions,  strengthens the immune system and makes heart muscles stronger.

Easy millet mushroom masala recipe

Ingredients:

Little millet- 1 cup

Mushrooms- 1 cup

Onions- half cup chopped

Carrot - 1 chopped

Coriander powder -1 tbps

Cumin powder: 1 tbsp

Coriander leaves - to garnish

Salt- to taste

Pressure cook the millet with water in the ratio 1:1. Saute the onions and carrots with coriander powder, cumin powder and salt. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes. Add the cooked millet and mix well. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot. 

Millets are very sustainable to cultivate and have innumerable benefits. They are found in stores as whole grain, puffed or as millet flour. So, next time you visit the grocery store, don’t shy away from the millet section. Pick up some puffed millets and roast them with mild masala and salt to make a healthy snack. Or get millet flour, use it on its own or mix it with your regular wheat flour to make rotis, or mix millet flour with water or curd to make dosas. You can bake bread with millet flour too. Make a simple upma with millets and vegetables. It is so filling and healthy. Or pressure cook whole millet grain and substitute it for rice and see the difference! The options are endless and you won’t regret trying it out. 

 

Category : Health and Wellness


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Written by Parvathy Jayakrishnan