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MAJOR HEALTH BENEFITS OF MILLET
What are millets?
According to the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI), millets are a group of small grained cereal food crops. These are highly tolerant to drought and other extreme weather conditions, and are grown with low chemical inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides. That explains why it is a farmer-friendly crop.
Most millet crops are native to India, and what’s interesting is that they are called
nutri-cereals. Wonder why? It’s because they provide most of the nutrients required for normal functioning of the human body.
Millets comprise of Sorghum (Jowar), Pearl Millet (Bajara), Finger Millet (Ragi), Minor Millets such as Foxtail Millet, Prosco Millet, Kodo Millet, Barnyard Millet, Little Millet and Browntop Millet. The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare also recognises two ‘pseudo millets’ – buckwheat (kuttu) and Amaranth.
What are the benefits of millets?
As lifestyle diseases like diabetes and blood pressure issues are rising, the demand for superfoods to tackle these problems is also running parallel. In the recent past, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is increased attention towards healthy eating.
New studies are being undertaken to understand the benefits of millets. A study published in the journal ‘Frontiers in Nutrition’ indicated that regular consumption of millets can improve haemoglobin and serum ferritine levels to reduce iron deficiency anaemia, which is on the rise globally.
These ‘smart foods’ have been found to be a boon for children and adolescents. According to latest research undertaken by the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics, millets boost growth in children and adolescents by 26 to 39 percent when they replace rice in a standard meal.
Alongside, social media has made room for people to share their stories of reversing diabetes, achieving weight loss, or recipe innovations with the power of millets far and wide. Entrepreneurs have started millet brands with ready to make options, easing out the cooking process for people. Collectively, these have been steering attention towards the manifold benefits of millets.
Check out a past Instagram post on millets by celebrity nutrition expert Rujuta Diwekar, who is an active proponent of desi superfoods.
Nabanita Saha, Chief Clinical Dietician, Manipal Hospital Old Airport Road,
Bengaluru, tells HealthShots why millets are called superfoods.
“They are high in nutrients like protein, fiber, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants
it is called as superfood and an ideal choice for cereals. When combined with
lentils and vegetables, it makes a complete food.
Due to its easy digestion, it’s a good food for babies and children. The calcium
and magnesium help in making strong bones and promote growth. The fiber and
antioxidant content in them helps managing weight, control diabetes and keeps the heart healthy,” Saha says.
Nutritionist Parul Malhotra Bahl explains that millets are the oldest cultivated grain
which have been a part of our food culture since ages. But millets have finally started getting their due attention because of their versatile nutritional content.
“They are rich sources of fiber, vitamins A and B, iron, calcium, antioxidants,
potassium, phosphorus etc, and they are extremely beneficial across all age groups,” she says.
5 key benefits of millets, points out Bahl.
1. Fiber content
They are high on fiber especially soluble fiber, thus help in proper bowel movements. Since they are rich in soluble fiber, they are easy on the stomach not just for adults but even children. Moreover, millets are a great prebiotic (food for good bacteria) source for the body and shall work as a boon for gut health.
2. Gluten free
Millets are gluten free, and thus extremely beneficial for people having
3. Low glycemic index
Millets have low glycemic index. So, they are extremely beneficial for all the
children and adults having diabetes or facing insulin resistance. They are also
good for people who may be battling Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Obesity.
They are a powerhouse of antioxidants thus may contribute in boosting immunity, skin and hair health.
5. Low calorie
Last but definitely not the least, they are low on calories. What else can one ask for when looking forward to lose weight without compromising on carbs and satiety? They are a wonderful replacement to high calorie grains like wheat and rice.
Millets are available both in whole grain and flour form, thus can easily be used to make a variety of food items like cheela, upma, dosa, idlis, khichdi, pulao and many more.