Indian kitchens have evolved a lot in the recent years but at the same time have proudly gone back to their roots.
Even while relishing our staples like rice and wheat, we went back searching for traditional foods and recipes and voila! We discovered what our ancestors ate – millets.
We have become very millet aware in the last few years and suddenly these bland, gluten-free whole grains found their place back in our kitchen shelves.
There are many types of millets like ragi, foxtail millet, pearl millet finger millets, proso millets, little millets, kodo millets and barnyard millets and all these grains have one in thing common – ample amounts of nutrition.
And they are not bland in taste anymore. Millets are now being made into fluffy bread, gooey porridges, hot kitchids, idlis, dosas and even delicious desserts.
Millets are small, round-shaped coarse grains which is an indigenous crop to India that comes with an impressive nutrient profile. They are famed as “poor man’s food grain” due to its affordability. It is a drought and pest resistant crop that survive in a harsh climate and less fertile soil. All millet varieties belong to the Poaceae family, however, they differ in colour, appearance and species.
Types of Millets
Foxtail millet loaded with protein and complex carbohydrates regulate blood sugar spikes, diminished bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and increase good cholesterol (HDL) in the body. While being rich in iron and calcium it maintains healthy blood levels and strengthens bones
Finger millets, also known as ragi is a healthier cereal alternative for rice and wheat. It is a gluten-free grain loaded with protein and amino acids that promote growth and boost brain health in children.
Pearl millet or bajra abounds with minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron is valuable in uplifting overall health. An immense amount of protein and dietary fibre helps in managing diabetes and support weight loss.
Little or kutki is a great millet option for all those fitness enthusiasts, as it serves as a healthy tweak for rice. Bestowed with fibre and minerals such as potassium, zinc, iron and calcium and vitamin B3 supports fat metabolism, tissue repair, reduces cholesterol and energy production.
Millets come with a whopping amount of nutrients including proteins, dietary fibre, B vitamins, calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, copper and selenium. They are also a powerhouse of antioxidants, flavonoids, anthocyanins, saponins and lignans that provide you with impressive health benefits.
Let us know the holistic nutritional benefits these millets offer if included in daily diet.
Health Benefits Of Millets
Regulate Blood Glucose Levels
Millets, when compared to wheat and maize, are high on nutrients, gluten-free and have a low glycemic index of 54-68. The presence of a high amount of dietary fibre, proteins with all essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals helps in stabilizing the blood sugar levels. Millets can be a part of a healthy diet for diabetic patient that prevent blood sugar spikes and promote insulin sensitivity.
Help In Weight Loss
Millets are boon for all weight watchers who are wanting to shed those extra kilos. Including millets in the regular regimen like millet flour or having millets for breakfast can remarkably help in lowering the BMI of obese people. Swapping rice with millets daily can lower accumulation of fat, improves gut health and help you in achieving sustained weight loss.
Good For Heart
Millets are loaded with an impressive profile of antioxidants that include beta-glucans, flavonoids, anthocyanidins, tannins, lignans, and policosanols. These antioxidants play a crucial role in lowering LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol and helps to maintain the blood vessels healthy and clears off the clots, thereby lowering the risk of heart disease, and stroke.
Battles Cancer Cells
Millets such as foxtail and proso varieties are `proven by research to be effective in inhibiting the growth of cancerous cells in various tissues. The Phytochemicals in millets exhibit antiproliferative effects and lower formation of cancer cells in the colon, breast, and liver without causing any damages to normal cells.
The presence of a good amount of dietary fibre in millets works well to improve the digestive system function. It combats constipation, flatulence, bloating, cramping, regularizes the bowel function and improves the overall health of other vital organs like liver, kidney and boosts the immune system.
Millets are generally divided into two category naked grains and husked grains.
Naked grains are millets that are devoid of tough, indigestible husk such as ragi, jowar and bajra. The main feature of these millets is that they don’t require any processing after harvest and can be consumed right after cleaning. These types of millets are therefore widely cultivated today.
Husked millets comprise an indigestible seed coat that has to be removed before cooking. These grains undergo a separate hulling process to free the grain of the husks, it was earlier processed by hand, now it is mechanically processed .Foxtail millets, little millets, and kodo millets belong to this category.
Millets are bestowed with a wealth of nutrients and fibre that supports boost metabolism, augment heart health, control blood pressure and diabetes and promote weight loss. Thus, they are a healthy addition to the meal plan. While it is also beneficial for the environment, as it mainly rain-fed crops, do not attract pests and can grow well without the use of pesticides.