Did you know that millet is one of the oldest grains in the world? It has been a staple food in many cultures for centuries, and India is the largest producer of millet in the world. Not only is millet a great source of nutrients, but it also offers a range of health benefits that can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. So why not learn about “what is millet” and give this ancient wonder grain a try?
Millets are the sixth most produced crop in the world today and have been cultivated for thousands of years in Africa and Southeast Asia. The term ‘millet’ is derived from the word ‘mil’ or ‘thousand,’ which refers to multiple grains that can be produced using a single seed. They are also very versatile when it comes to cooking them and can be used to make a variety of dishes such as khichdi (Bajra), dosa (Ragi), and roti (Jowar).
There are various health benefits of millets. In this article, we will walk you through various elements of millet nutrition and millet benefits for health. However, we recommend consulting your healthcare provider before making any major changes to your diet.
Read on to learn more about some great millet benefits!
What is Millet?
Millets (a cereal crop) are part of the grass family. It is a pest-resistant crop and is immune to drought. It contains essential nutrients and comes in many varieties, each with its own distinct colour, appearance, and species. It is packed with nutrients and is an excellent source of energy and protein. Because of these qualities, millet plays a vital role in feeding a wide segment of the population around the world.
Some of the most popularly consumed millets are listed below: -
- Pearl Millet or Bajra
- Finger Millet or Ragi
- Sorghum Millet or Jowar
- Proso Millet or Cheena
- Foxtail Millet or Kakum/Kangni
- Kodo Millet or Kedrav
- Little Millet or Moraiyo/Kutki/Shavan/Sama/
- Buckwheat Millet or Kuttu
Now let’s look at millet’s nutritional breakdown and some of the health benefits of millets.
Nutrition and Health Benefits of Millet
Nutritional Composition of Millets
Millets are gluten-free grains that are packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The nutritional composition of millets includes 7-12% protein, 2% fat, 65-75% carbohydrates, and 15-20% dietary fiber.
Millets are also a great source of proteins and a range of vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, B complex vitamins like thiamine, niacin, vitamin B6 and folic acid, making them an excellent addition to any diet. The kernel of the millet grain contains a high concentration of phytochemicals, including dietary fiber and polyphenols, which offer many health benefits.
The potential health benefits of different kinds of millets vary; pearl millet has a significantly higher proportion of proteins and lipids than finger millet, which has a smaller proportion of proteins and fats. As compared to maize, millet protein also displays higher essential amino acid profiles. Let’s dive deep into some millets’ health benefits.
Health Benefits of Millets
Adding millets to your diet can help boost your energy levels, and its high dietary fiber content may help lower cholesterol in the body. Millets also have overall health-promoting effects due to their phytochemical actions.
Some millets’ health benefits are mentioned below: -
- Promotes weight loss: Millets can be a great addition to your weight loss journey. The fiber in millets can help in keeping your stomach fuller for a longer duration of time and reduce snacking between meals. In this way millets can help you shed any extra weight you want to lose. You can incorporate millets into your daily diet in various forms, like millet soup, ajwain millet roti, bajra upma etc.
- Regulates glucose level: Some millets have a lower glycemic rating as compared to other cereals. Eating millets can help regulate your body’s glucose levels and decrease the likelihood of diabetes due to the presence of fiber, magnesium, vitamins E and phytochemicals. You can try incorporating easy-to-make dishes like millet aloo pockets in your daily diet.
- Boosts immunity: Millets contain proteins, antioxidants, and phytochemicals, which are essential for building immunity. Hence, regular consumption of millets might help improve our immune system and promote overall health.
- Promotes healthy digestion: Frequent consumption of millets promotes healthy digestion and prevents constipation, gas, and bloating. Include a variety of millets in your daily diet to get the most out of millet benefits.
- Detoxifies body: Various millet compounds help to remove toxins from the body. Millets contain antioxidants and nutraceuticals that aid in detoxifying the body. Ragi has the highest antioxidant content among all millets. Try preparing a delicious ragi porridge to kickstart your day.
- Helps in celiac disease: Since millets are gluten-free, they are also suitable for those with gluten-related diseases like celiac disease. It may also reduce the irritation caused by the common cereal grains, which contain gluten.
- Improves bone health: Millets are considered beneficial for children and older adults as it is a source of amino acids, calcium, and phosphorus that can help with various bone-related problems and strengthen bone tissues.
When incorporating millets into a diet, one should take a balanced approach.
Wondering how to incorporate different millets into your diet? Here are two examples of quick and simple recipes to leverage millet's health benefits.
- Ragi appam with coconut curry: This is a healthy twist on traditional appams. Elevate your breakfast with this calcium-rich dish, served with a lip-smacking coconut chutney.
- Bajra pea parantha: This is a nutritious meal that contains high levels of fiber, as well as important minerals like iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. It is a delicious way to boost your nutrient intake.
- Paneer jowar roti: This delectable combination of paneer and jowar is not only a flavorful option but also packed with protein, calcium, and fiber.
For more millet recipe ideas, check out Ask Nestle's healthy recipes section.
This wonder food crop often goes unnoticed because most people are unaware of the potential health benefits of millets. It is always beneficial to use this food grain to get ample millet benefits that support nutrient delivery, weight reduction, boost immunity, and regulate bodily function. Due to their slower rate of digestion in the body, millets also help us feel satiated for longer.
In conclusion, millet is a versatile grain that can be used in a number of dishes. With an ample array of benefits, it is a must-try for those seeking to improve their overall health and well-being. Add this power-packed food to your daily diet in moderation and experience the positive impact of millet benefits on your body.