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
|Amounts Per Cup (200g) Serving||%DV|
|From Carbohydrates||600(2512 kJ)|
|From Protein||85.3(357 kJ)|
|From Fat||70.6(296 kJ)|
|From Alcohol||~(0.0 kJ)|
|Total Carbohydrate||146 g||49%|
|Dietary Fiber||17.0 g||68%|
|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|
|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 B6||0.8 mg||38%|
|Vitamin B12||0.0 mcg||0%|
|Pantothenic Acid||1.7 mg||17%|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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!
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!