Millets have enormous health benefits, but have you ever considered including these tiny grains into your diet? Let’s learn more about these under-utilized grains. Millets are an ancient gluten-free grains and one of the first cereal grains used for human consumption. They are highly nutritious packed with fibre, micronutrients and antioxidants that support a healthy digestive process. Millets are rich in catechins such as quercetin (antioxidant) which boost liver and kidney functions. An excellent option for people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.

Millets are categorized as major and minor millets.

  1. Major millets – Sorghum (jowar) and pearl millet (bajra/kambu)

  2. Minor millets – Finger millet (ragi), foxtail (thinai), proso (panivaragu), barnyard (sanwa), kodo and little millet

Millets contain an array of beneficial nutrients, including nearly 15 per cent protein, B-complex vitamins, and essential amino acids (methionine and lecithin). They are particularly rich in minerals (iron, magnesium and calcium) along with phytochemicals that reduce cholesterol.

  • According to studies, the consumption of millets helps women combat the occurrence of gallstones, as they are a rich source of insoluble fibre.

  • They are also high in phosphorus content, which plays a key role in maintaining the cell structure and formation of the bone-mineral matrix of the body. A cup of millets provides around 24% of the daily phosphorus requirement.

  • Regular consumption of millets is associated with a reduced risk of type – 2 diabetes mellitus, as they have high magnesium content and fibre, thus regulating the secretion of glucose and insulin.

  • They act as a prebiotic to feed your beneficial gut microflora and hydrate the colon.

  • Studies have shown that the magnesium content of millets reduces the severity of asthma, migraine attacks, lowers blood pressure, and reduces the associated cardiovascular risks. Consumption of millets also helps resolve issues like diarrhoea and promotes healthy gut flora to prevent peptic ulcers and may reduce your risk of colon cancer due to its alkaline nature.

  • Millets benefit women with PCOS by maintaining hormonal balance, thus alleviating chronic complications like blood sugar spikes, heart risks, hypercholesteremia and overweight.

We can regularly include a variety of millet dishes in our daily meals. Here are some recipes to get you started

Millet dosa varieties (ragi/bajra/jowar dosa); millet pongal/khichdi; millet porridge. Replace rice with millets + rice combo; millet idlis; fresh green salad mixed with pearl millet, barley, or Kodo millet.

Key Takeaways!

Millets are multi-tasking grains, providing better health by,

  • Maintaining sugar levels (preventing insulin spikes)

  • Lowering cholesterol levels

  • Aiding in weight loss (as millets are a rich source of fibre)

  • Improving gut microbiome and may play a role in preventing cancer

Due to its superior nutritional qualities, millets have moved from being the ‘poor main’s grain’ to being considered a ‘nutritious grain’. Therefore, it can serve as an alternative to the conventional grains.

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