Millets have gained recognition as smart foods because they meet the criteria of being beneficial for one's health, the environment, and the farmers. When incorporated into diets, millets can serve as staple foods, promoting dietary diversification and aiding in the regulation of blood lipid levels. Additionally, they have shown potential in managing metabolic disorders such as diabetes and hyperlipidemia, thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
What are the types of millets?
Millets come in a variety of sizes and shapes. A few of the millets are listed below
- Ragi/Finger millet
- Pearl Millet/Bajra
- Foxtail Millet
- Little Millet
What are the reasons to include millets in one's diet?
Millets, known for being gluten-free, highly nutritious, and rich in dietary fiber, offer a wide range of health benefits. They are packed with essential micronutrients such as calcium, iron, and phosphorus. With a low Glycemic Index (GI), millets help maintain stable blood sugar levels. Including millets in our regular diet is highly recommended.
A key component of millets is dietary fiber, which aids in water absorption and adds bulk to the diet. This, in turn, promotes healthy digestion, reduces the risk of inflammatory bowel disease, and acts as a natural body cleanser.
Often referred to as "nutricereals," millets are diverse grasses cultivated for human and animal consumption worldwide. Research has shown that millets have superior nutritional value compared to many cereals. They serve as excellent sources of proteins, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, essential amino acids, and healthy fats. Millets contain approximately 65% carbohydrates, 9% proteins, 3% fats, and 2-7% crude fiber. Additionally, they are rich in vitamins A, C, and B-complex, as well as minerals such as magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and iron. Furthermore, millets are gluten-free, making them a suitable choice for individuals with gluten sensitivities.
What is the role of millets in reducing inflammation in the body?
Millets have been studied for their potential in promoting gut healing. They are classified as resistant starch, which means they resist digestion in the normal digestive process. Instead, they get broken down in the large intestine, specifically the colon, where they provide nourishment to the beneficial bacteria in the gut microbiota. Furthermore, millets can contribute to fixing and healing the damaged walls of the colon, which is often a site of digestive problems.
One of the remarkable qualities of millets is their excellent antioxidant content. They are particularly rich in phenols, which are potent compounds found in nature. The abundance of phenolic acids and flavonoids in millets has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases by combating inflammation. For instance, phenolic compounds in whole wheat and whole rye suppress the production of pro-inflammatory substances. In the case of millet, its flavonoids and phenolic compounds inhibit pro-inflammatory cytokines while promoting the production of beneficial, anti-inflammatory molecules.
What are some ways to include millets in your diet?
Millets possess a high satiety value, which aids in preventing overeating. Despite the common fear of carbohydrates, it's important to recognize that millets are considered good carbs. Incorporating a small amount of millet into a salad or chat alongside protein can be a wise choice. Prior to consumption, soaking millets is recommended as it reduces anti-nutrients and enhances the absorption of essential nutrients.
There are various delicious ways to incorporate millets into meals, such as making khichdi, pulav, soup, salad, chat, porridge, or even snacks like chips and khakhras.
To combat inflammation in the body and address the underlying causes of chronic diseases like arthritis, kidney disease, heart conditions, and type 2 diabetes, it is highly recommended to substitute at least one portion of a meal with millets. Consider trying dishes like millet upma, millet khichdi, millet pancakes, or jowar roti, among others.