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Millets: The Miracle Superfood

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The society has seen numerous health foods come and go. Some turned out to be a hoax, some did no good to the body, some developed hedonic hunger pangs, while some eradicated the indications of hunger. But a rare is here to stay.

This is where millets come into the picture – abundant in essential carbs, fiber, and the more vital micronutrients. Inherent to the eastern side of the world, millets are an age-old answer to an active body. These cereals are getting popular in many countries as a gluten-free substitute.

What Are Millets?

Millets are whole grains that have been around for thousands of years and are found in many diets around the world. Millets are the principal staple grains in India and are usually eaten in China, South America, Russia, and the Himalayas.

As gluten-free whole grains, millets are an exceptional grain option for those in need of options. They are very easy to prepare and more available across the globe.

Millets are amazingly versatile – they can be used in everything from bread to porridges, side dishes, and desserts. Their delicate flavor is intensified by toasting the dry grains before cooking. In some places, they’re even fermented and drunk as an alcoholic beverage.

Millets can be seen in white, gray, yellow, or red colors. They look wonderful when arranged on a plate. Millets are also grown as high-fiber feed for cattle, livestock, and birds.

The Commonly Found Types Of Millets

Millets are a group of grains that include pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum), foxtail millet (Setaria italica), proso millet (Panicum miliaceum), finger millet or ragi (Eleusine coracana), barnyard millet (Echinochloa crus-galli), little millet (Panicum sumatrense), kodo millet (Paspalum scrobiculatum), fonio millet (Digitaria exilis), and adlay millet or Job’s tears (Coix lachryma-jobi).

Here’s some more information about the different types of millets:

 Name Local Name  Grown In
 Pearl Millet  Bulrush millet (Australia), cat tail millet, bajra (Hindi), milheto (Brazil), gero (Africa), sajje (Telugu)  Africa, India, Pakistan, and the Arabian peninsula
 Finger Millet  Ragi (Telugu, Kannada), keppai (Tamil), mandwa (Urdu), kurakkan (Sinhala), nachani (Marathi), susu (Japanese)  Africa, Nepal, India, and China
 Proso Millet  Common millet, broomtail, kashfi, hog millet Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Argentina, U.S, and Australia
 Foxtail Millet  Kaon dana (Bengali), navane (Kannda), korralu (Telugu), kangni (Hindi), kavalai (Tamil), awa (Japanese)  China, India, Indonesia, the Korean peninsula, and Europe
 Fonio Millet  – Western Africa
 Barnyard Millet  Cockspur grass India
 Little Millet  Kutki (Hindi), sama (Bengali), gajro (Gujarati), samalu (Telugu), sava (Marathi), suan (Oriya) India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Myanmar
 Kodo Millet  Arikelu (Telugu), varagu (Tamil), kodra (Hindi)  Western Africa, and India
 Adlay Millet  Job’s tears, YiYi (Chinese), coixseed, tear grass  Southeast Asia

Nutritional Profile Of Raw Millets

Calorie Information
Amounts Per Cup (200g) Serving %DV
 Calories 756(3165 kJ) 38%
From Carbohydrates 600(2512 kJ)
 From Protein 85.3(357 kJ)
From Fat 70.6(296 kJ)
 From Alcohol ~(0.0 kJ)
Carbohydrates
Total Carbohydrate 146 g 49%
Dietary Fiber 17.0 g 68%
  Starch  ~
Sugars  ~
Fats & Fatty Acids
Total Fat 8.4 g 13%
Saturated Fat 1.4 g 7%
Monounsaturated Fat 1.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4.3 g
Total Trans Fatty Acids ~
Total Trans-monoenoic Fatty Acids ~
Total Trans-polyenoic Fatty Acids ~
Total Omega-3 Fatty Acids 236 mg
Total Omega-6 Fatty Acids 4030 mg
Protein & Amino Acids
  Protein 22 g  44%
Vitamins
  Vitamin A 0.0 IU 0%
  Vitamin C 0.0 mg 0%
  Vitamin E 0.1 mg  1%
  Vitamin K 1.8 mcg  2%
 Vitamin D ~ ~
Thiamin  0.8 mg  56%
Riboflavin 0.6 mg 34%
 Niacin 9.4 mg 47%
 Vitamin B6  0.8 mg 38%
 Folate 170 mcg 43%
 Vitamin B12 0.0 mcg 0%
 Pantothenic Acid 1.7 mg 17%
 Choline ~
 Betaine ~
Electrolytes
 Sodium 10 mg 0%
 Potassium 390 mg 11%
Minerals
 Calcium 16 mg  2%
 Iron 6.0 mg  33%
 Magnesium 228 mg 57%
 Manganese 3.3 mg 163%
 Phosphorus 570 mg  57%
 Zinc 3.4 mg 22%
Copper 1.5 mg  75%
 Selenium 5.4 mcg  8%
  Flouride ~

Proceeding to the phytochemical composition, millets are loaded with phenolic acids, polyphenols, anthocyanins, flavonoids, saponins, and lignans that give you all the shielding benefits.

Millets and their seed coats have gallic acid, ferulic acid, protocatechuic acid, coumaric acid, cinnamic acid, caffeic acid, sinapic acid, quercetin, kaempferol, luteolin glycoside, phloroglucinol, apigenin, catechin, epicatechin, glucosylvitexin, glycovitexin, vitexin, and several other phytochemicals.

Benefits Of Adding Millets To Your Diet

1. Ideal For Individuals Who Have Diabetes

Compared to other cereal crops, such as wheat and maize, millets are high in nutrition, gluten-free, and have a glycemic index between 54 to 68.

They give high energy, high dietary fiber, proteins with a well-balanced amino acid profile, many vital minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants – all of which play a crucial role in lowering diabetes.

Foxtail millets improve glycemic control and insulin sensitivity in such individuals. They also can reduce HbA1c antigen levels, fasting glucose, insulin, total cholesterol, triglyceride, and LDL concentrations.

These indications show that millets have a positive dietary impact on diabetes when supported by the right medication.

2. Help In Weight Management

Obesity is a major cause of a variety of metabolic disorders. And diet plays a critical role in controlling obesity. Following a low-carb and high-fiber diet, along with regular physical activity, can reduce body weight to some extent.

Including whole grains like millets, brown rice, whole wheat, oats, barley, sorghum, etc. can have an incredible effect on the BMI (body mass index) of obese individuals.

Consuming about 3 servings of whole grains per day can also reduce fat accumulation, improve gut microbiota (good gut bacteria), and help you feel lighter and physically active.

3. Lower Cholesterol And Protect Heart

Pearl, finger, Kodo, and other varieties of millets are all rich in micronutrients like iron, zinc, phosphorus, and calcium, and amino acids such as leucine and valine.

Millets have polyphenolic acids, β-glucans, flavonoids, anthocyanidins, condensed tannins, lignans, and policosanols that are potent antioxidants. They also reduce the plasma LDL levels and total cholesterol and keep the blood vessels dilated and healthy.

This way, consuming millets can prevent lipid peroxidation and associated cardiovascular diseases and ischemic strokes.

4. Healthy For Children And Pregnant Women

As millets contain fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals like calcium and iron, they can be given to children and pregnant women.

Many traditional Asian and African dishes given to pregnant women prior to delivery contain millets. Kenyan women consume ugali, which is made from a mixture of sorghum and finger millet flour. It is cooked to a dough-like consistency and eaten with local vegetables, meat stew, or fermented milk.

Popped millets can be served as healthy snacks to children, especially if they are malnourished. Carbs, essential fatty acids, and calcium give children the strength and immunity they need while growing up.

5. Could Have Anti-Cancer Effects

Apart from antioxidant and antidiabetic effects, millets might possess anticancer effects too. Recent research points out that few millet proteins (from foxtail and proso varieties) could inhibit the growth of cancerous cells in various tissues.

Millet phytochemicals showed antiproliferative effects against cancer cells of the colon, breast, and liver without damaging the surrounding normal cells. The antioxidant phenolic acids and anthocyanidins make a promising remedy for many cancers. Further research in these areas can reveal more about the anticancer properties of millets.

Millets Recipes

Barring the boring porridge, you can try out these super simple, tasty, and quick ways of cooking millets. These dishes can make a great brunch or dinner. Check them out!

Ragi Roti

ragi roti

Ingredients
  • 1 cup ragi flour
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 very small onion chopped
  • 1 nos green chili chopped
  • Coriander leaves for garnishing
  • Salt and water as needed
Recipe
  • Add ragi flour, onions, chilies, cumin and salt to a bowl. Add water(preferably warm water) as needed and make a soft dough that is spreadable.
  • Make 5 equal-sized balls. Place a ball of dough on the pan, grease your fingers or moisten them by dipping in a bowl of water. Spread the dough gently to a thin roti.
  • Place it on the stove and cook covered until you see the color of the roti changes to a darker shade, if you have not greased your fingers, then it turns white in color. Flip the roti and fry on the other side too until done.
  • You will need 2 pans or tawa or there will be a waiting time until the Tawa cools. To make the next roti either make it on another tawa or wait till the tawa cools. If you try to make the roti on the hot tawa, it will not spread.
  • Serve hot with vegetable or chicken curries

Millet Muffins

millet muffins

Ingredients
  • Whole wheat flour: 2¼ cups
  • Millets: ⅓ cup
  • Baking soda: 1 teaspoon
  • Baking powder: 1 teaspoon
  • Salt: 1 teaspoon
  • Buttermilk: 1 cup
  • Egg: 1, lightly beaten
  • Vegetable oil: ½ cup
  • Honey: ½ cup to 1 cup
  • Mixing bowl: 2, medium-large sized
Recipe
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Grease 16 muffin cups.
  • In a large bowl, combine the whole wheat flour, millets, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, vegetable oil, and honey.
  • Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture just until it is evenly moist. Whisk thoroughly.
  • Transfer the batter to the greased muffin cups.
  • Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  • Serve warm with some cranberry crush or piping hot black coffee!

Bottomline

Millets are a gluten-free and drought-tolerant source of long-lasting energy. The bran and fiber in these whole grains slow down the breakdown of starch into glucose. Thus, they maintain a steady blood sugar rather than causing sharp spikes. In other words, millets are ideal for those with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

These grains have high levels of fiber that help lower cholesterol and move waste through the digestive tract (bulking agent). It’s high time you chose millets over white rice – because they are three to five times nutritionally superior to the latter.

As they are versatile to cook and tasty, you don’t have to bore yourself with millet porridge. Whip up our quick and simple recipes and enjoy with your family. Yes, the kids will love them too!

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