Millets are a group of nutrient-rich cereals having extensive uses in different parts of the world, especially in Asia and Africa. It is one of the oldest grains known to human civilization. For thousands of years, millet is grown in different parts of the world as staples. However, its use had reduced remarkably in the latter half of the 20th century due to different sociopolitical and economic reasons. In recent times, millets have regained their lost popularity as agriculturists and researchers reveal the amazing health benefits of millets. The health-conscious population understands the food value of millets. Naturally, millets are finding importance in Indian dishes.
What are millets?
Millet is a tiny round whole grain having different varieties. The crop is divided into two categories, viz. major millets and minor millets.
Major millets include finger (known popularly as ragi), foxtail, pearl (known popularly as bajra), and proso. Minor millets include Kodo, Barnyard, fonio, browntop, guinea, little, and adley (known popularly as Job’s tears).
Major millets, especially ragi and pearl are the most widely cultivated millets, yet other varieties are also cultivated for their amazing nutritional values.
Health benefits of millets
In India, millets have been mentioned in some of the oldest scriptures like Yajurveda where foxtail millet, blackfinger millet, and barnyard millet have been mentioned. It indicates that the uses of millets were known to the people in the Bronze Age as well. Right now, not just in Asia or Africa, the developed countries are also embracing gluten-free millets for their high nutritional benefits.
Enriched with all goodness of nature, millets are rich in minerals like magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, and calcium. These cereals also contain high quantities of antioxidants, fibres, and several types of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins that help to replace the dead cells in the body and keep the muscles strong.
Following are some health benefits of millets –
- Reduces the risk of colon cancer
- Effectively treats coronary artery disorder
- Controls high blood sugar
- Controls high cholesterol
- Reduces arterial blockage
- Helps in maintaining muscular strength
- Helps in maintaining ideal body weight
- Controls obesity
Include millets in your daily diet
Millets like ragi and bajra are not only healthy but also tasty as well. As people now understand the health benefits of millets, culinary experts have been using these excellent cereals in different dishes and packaged foods. Ragi idli, multigrain flour, millet khichdi, multigrain biscuits and cookies, or ready-to-eat snacks made of millets are available in the market in ample quantities today.
You can try millets in daily cooking. Many health-conscious people use millets in their breakfast along with fruits that make the starting of the day more positive. At least a simple dish with ragi, jawar, or bajra as one of its ingredients can be a healthy eating habit for the whole family.