know your millets

1. Ragi

Ragi is a hardy crop that can grow in high altitudes and withstand harsh weather conditions, making it perfectly suited for the Indian climatic conditions. In India, Ragi was introduced about 4000 years ago and has been found in archeological excavations in the Harappan Civilization.

Benefits of Ragi

Rich in Calcium

100gm of Ragi contains 344mg of Calcium making it the best natural source of Calcium. Calcium is very important for healthy bones, teeth and to prevent osteoporosis

Source of Vitamin D

Ragi is one of the very few natural sources of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a carrier molecule for calcium, which accounts for vitality and overall wellbeing.

Controls Blood Sugar levels

Ragi is abundant in polyphenols and dietary fibers compared to wheat or rice. The low glycemic index maintains the digestive pace, consequently keeping blood sugar level under control

Healthy Skin

Vital amino acids like Methionine and Lysine present in it make the skin tissues less prone to wrinkles and sagging.

Battles Anemia

Ragi is an excellent source of Iron and is a boon for people with low haemoglobin or anemic patients.

Reduces Stress

The presence of antioxidants in Ragi, mainly Tryptophan and amino acids which work as natural relaxants help combating stress and depression.

Traditional Dishes with Ragi

Ragi Mudde in Karnataka also called Ragi Sangati in AP

Ragi Kanji in Tamil Nadu

Zan in Arunachal Pradesh

Ragi Buttermilk in South India

Did you know?
1cup of Ragi has Calcium equivalent to 3 cups of Milk

2. Jowar

Jowar is one of the most popular types of grain consumed in India. After wheat, the maximum amount of cultivated land in India is used for growing Jowar. It is the 5th most important cereal in the world. Jowar is a staple source of nutrition in areas that are arid, and it also does not need special care for growing.  It is also gluten-free, therefore preferable for people who can’t consume wheat-based products.

Benefits of Jowar

High in Essential Vitamins & Minerals

Jowar is a powerhouse of antioxidants, essential vitamins and minerals. It is loaded with good amounts of calcium, copper, zinc, phosphorous, potassium and cell-building Vitamin B.

Controls Diabetes

Low glycemic index, High-fibre and good Protein content of Jowar makes it an excellent diabetic option. Both fibre and protein in Jowar help slow down the release of sugars into the blood preventing sugar fluctuations thereby controlling Diabetes

Improves Energy Levels

Jowar contains high amounts of Vitamin B3 that transforms food into energy usable by the body. It ensures that the energy levels in the body are consistent through the day rather than observing sudden spikes of energy.

Antioxidant Rich

Jowar is a good source of phytochemical antioxidants like phenolic acids, phytosterols anthocyanins, tannins, and policosanols. Antioxidants are known to be vital for scavenging free radicals that cause inflammation in the body.

Traditional Dishes with Jowar

Jowari Roti also called Jolada rotti/Jonna rotte/ Jwari Bhakri

Did you know?
Baiju, a white spirit made from Jowar is China’s National drink and is known for its health benefits

3. Foxtail Millet

It is the second-most widely planted species of millet and the most important in East Asia. It has the longest history of cultivation among the millets, having been grown in India since antiquity. Generally grown in semi arid regions, Foxtail millet grows with very little water and is known for its short growing season of only 65-70 days.

Benefits of Foxtail

High Fiber

Foxtail is packed with good quality fiber which improves digestion, manages obesity, regulate blood sugar levels and curb the risk of high blood pressure and strokes. 100gm of Foxtail contains more than 8 grams of dietary fiber.

Controls Diabetes

Low glycemic index, High-fibre and good Protein content of Jowar makes it an excellent diabetic option. Both fibre and protein in Jowar help slow down the release of sugars into the blood preventing sugar fluctuations thereby controlling Diabetes

Rich in Protein

One cup of Foxtail has 29gms of Protein. Protein helps in building muscles, cell regeneration, and give a feeling of satiety which further helps in weight reduction

Boosts circulation

Iron and copper are two important minerals found in Foxtail. Iron is crucial for development of red blood cells in the body, while copper helps enhance the absorption of iron in the body thus improving overall circulation of blood in the body

Traditional Dishes with Foxtail

Foxtail Millet was used in place of Rice both for direct consumption and as flour

Did you know?
1 serving (100gm) of Foxtail Millet has the same amount of Protein as one boiled egg white

4. Bajra

India is the largest producer of Bajra in the world. Bajra is a hardy crop that grows well, even in drought
conditions, high temperatures and low soil fertility which is why Rajasthan produces the largest amount
of Bajra in the country and the grain is an integral part of Rajasthani cuisine. In India, Bajra cultivation
dates back to pre-historic time around 2000BC.

Benefits of Bajra

Good for Heart

Bajra is rich in magnesium, which helps keep the heart healthy. It has potassium, which dilates blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more easily. This helps reduce overall blood pressure.

High Dietary Fiber

Bajra is a rich source of insoluble fibre, which works as a pre-biotic in our gut and also helps prevent overeating by adding bulk to the meals, leading to early satiety. Insoluble fibre is also vital for proper bowel cleansing and preventing constipation.

Detoxifies body

Bajra contains phytic acid, tannins and phenols, all antioxidants which detox the body and help in preventing ageing and metabolic diseases like heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Packed With Omega-3 Fats

Bajra is a better source of healthy omega-3 fats as compared to other grains. Omega-3 is associated with lowering BP, triglycerides and known to be cardio protective

Traditional Dishes with Bajra

Kambam Choru & Kambam Koozh in Tamil Nadu

Bajre ki roti/bhakri in North India especially in Rajasthan

Did you know?
Bajra has the highest Folic acid content among cereal grains

Nutrition Table

Grain Carbo-hydrates (g) Protein (g) Fat (g) Energy (KCal) Dietary fibre (g) Ca (mg) Fe (mg) ZN (mg) Gluten
Finger millet (Ragi) 66.8 7.3 1.9 322 11.2 364 4.6 2.5 No Gluten
Sorghum (Jowar) 67.7 10.4 1.7 335.5 10.2 27.6 3.9 1.9 No Gluten
Foxtail millet 60.9 12.3 4.3 331 8 31 2.8 2.4 No Gluten
Little millet 65.6 9.4 2.5 348 6.4 16 1.2 1.8 No Gluten
Pearl millet (Bajra) 61.8 11.2 5.4 349 11.5 27.3 6.4 2.7 No Gluten
Kodo millet 66.2 9.3 2.5 333 6.4 15.3 2.3 1.6 No Gluten
Proso millet 70.4 12.5 1.1 341 8.5 14 0.8 1.4 No Gluten
Barnyard millet 65.5 6.2 2.2 307 9.8 20 5 3 No Gluten
Rice 78.2 7.9 0.5 357 2.8 7.5 0.6 1.2 Gluten
Whole Wheat 64.7 10.6 1.5 321 11.3 31 3.9 2.8 Contains Gluten
Maize (dry) 64.7 8.8 3.8 335.5 12.2 8.9 0.7 1.0 Gluten

While Millets are unarguably a powerhouse of nutrition with many health benefits, it doesn’t mean that we completely stop eating other grains like wheat and rice and start eating only millets. Also it is not suggested to suddenly shift to only millets based diet. Any kind of millet should be slowly introduced into the diet to give some adjusting time to our digestive system. You could start with one meal in 3-4 times a week and gradually increase the consumption.

Many people believe that millets shouldn’t be eaten in summer, which is not quite true. As with everything else, eating in moderation and balanced diet are key to good health.