When was the last time you ate millets as part of your meal? You Probably have to think for quite some time to answer that. Generally, our meals include wheat(roti, bread, pasta) or rice(dosa, idli, biryani). We seldom eat millets or should I say “ Not At All”. We can say they are the neglected grains. Let us probe further.
Nearly five hundred varieties of millets are known today. They belong to the grass family and are generally referred to as the Poorman’s crop. Millets are small in size and look like seeds.
Some common millets with their vernacular names are:
- Sorghum as Jowar
- Finger millet as Ragi or Nachni
- Pearl millet as Bajra
- Buckwheat as Kuttu
- Amaranth as Rajgheer
- Foxtail as Kangni
- Little millet as Kutki
Millets are hardy crops and they can withstand extreme temperatures, floods, and droughts. Millets have fibrous roots which help in improving soil quality and also help in soil conservation in erosion-prone areas. Thus, millets help in restoring the natural ecosystem.
One cup of cooked millets contains roughly 207 calories, carbohydrates 40grams, fiber 2.2 grams, proteins 6 grams, fats 1.6 grams along with a high percentage of Phosphorous(25%), Magnesium(19%). Millets contain essential amino acids which form proteins. They contain antioxidants along with dietary fiber.
Positive Health Effects Of Eating Millets
- Millets are gluten-free so they are a better option for people suffering from gluten intolerance.
- Millets have a low glycemic index and so are highly recommended for diabetics.
- Millets are alkaline foods and so helps maintain the pH of the body.
- The insoluble fiber in millets is prebiotic, which supports good bacteria in our digestive system.
- Millets contain Tryptophan which increases serotonin levels. This helps in reducing stress and improving sleep. Therefore millet porridge at night is highly recommended.
- Boiled barley water mixed with lemon helps flush out toxins and excess water and so relieves PMS.
- Ragi porridge is generally given to lactating mothers in villages as it is one of the richest sources of calcium and iron.
- If you eat barley regularly, it prevents the occurrence of gall bladder stones and keeps the liver healthy.
Millets contain antinutrients (compounds that block or reduce the body’s absorption of other nutrients, which may lead to deficiencies). However, the anti-nutrient content in millets can be reduced by soaking them in water overnight and then draining and rinsing them before cooking. Another way to reduce this antinutrient content is by sprouting the grains.
Non conventional uses of millets
Millet flour can be used for baking cakes, biscuits, muffins, and cookies. Research suggests that baking increases antioxidant content in millets.
People have started experimenting by making dishes from south Indian cuisine like Idli, Dosa, Vada, and more with millets. Millet-based noodles and pasta are also available on the shelves of supermarkets. Millet-based restaurants such as Coconut shell and Magic Meal have come up in Tamil Nadu and other states.
Keeping all the above-mentioned information in mind, we should make a sincere attempt to include them in our daily diet. Millets are versatile grains and they do deserve a place on your plate. Ask any fitness enthusiast and they will vouch for the health benefits of millets. Try to include a variety of grains in your diet.
Think about it.