Ask people about the most eaten foods in India, pat comes the reply, wheat, rice and pulses. Yes, these food grains are an intrinsic part of our lives, but there are healthier options out there. Have you heard of millets? Are you aware of the health benefits of millets? The first time I was served a ragi ball with a curry, it took me a good two minutes to get the hang of picking it up, dipping in the curry and swallowing it. Yes, swallowing it, no chewing. Still clueless about what it was, I checked with my aunt who listed more than a dozen health benefits of ragi and and was surprised that I had never tried it earlier.
So, what are millets?
Millets are “tiny grains” that are not just packed with minerals and vitamins, but are also gluten-free. A millet is actually a seed and it’s generally referred to as a grain because of its grain-like consistency. Once considered a poor man’s food, millets are slowly finding its way into one’s diet with a wide variety of recipes available.
Some of the common millets available in India are Ragi (Finger Millet), Jowar (Sorghum), Sama (Little millet), Bajra (Pearl Millet), and Variga (Proso millet).
Millets are sustainable crops in comparison to rice and wheat. A rice plant needs at least 3 times more water to grow in comparison to millets. Millets can also sustain high temperatures. They can grow in higher temperatures, of almost up to 46 degrees C.
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What are the health benefits of millets?
If you are health conscious and wary about what you consume, you can opt for millets as a regular part of your diet. Millets are non-glutinous and non-acid-forming foods which makes it easy to digest when eaten in the right quantity.
5 Health Benefits of Millets
Each millet comes with its own nutritive value. Some millets like sama and bajra are high in fats, while ragi is low on fat content. Millets are also rich in calcium and magnesium. In fact Ragi is known to have the highest calcium content among all the food grains. If you are still contemplating a switch to millets, you need to know that millets are armed with loads of health benefits.
Here are some health benefits of millets:
1. Rich in anti-oxidants
All varieties of millets are rich in antioxidants that help to flush out harmful free radicals from the body and keep several health issues at bay. Millets are known to also boost the immunity levels.
2. Maintains digestive health
If indigestion is your companion, then introduce millets into your diet in small quantities. Digestive issues occur because of less consumption of fibre. Millets are loaded with starch and significant amounts of fiber – soluble and insoluble. This helps to regulate the digestion process. Since millets are also gluten-free, they help to reduce the occurrence of celiac disease that can upset the stomach.
3. Good for babies & children:
There are brand that make 100% natural millet based foods for infants and children. These include porridge, biscuits, cereals and more. So if you are looking at opting for millets for your children, you could start with these options.
4. Keeps your bones healthy:
Our body does not make calcium on its own. And since calcium is required to keep your bones strong, you need to include foods in your diet that is rich in calcium. Ragi is a millet with the highest content of calcium. Some millets are also rich in magnesium that can reduce the instance of osteoporosis and bone damage.
5. Helps with weight management:
Millets have a high fiber content that makes it an excellent food option to manage your weight. These are considered to be heavy foods that helps to decrease hunger pangs and keep you from snacking. Millets also helps to lower your cholesterol levels and keep your weight in check.
Read more on millets and what experts say in this article that appeared in Fit.The Quint. This post first appeared on Fit.Quint. Read the rest of the post here.