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  5. What are types of millets and how to include them in your diet? Know their nutritional value

What are types of millets and how to include them in your diet? Know their nutritional value

Millets, celebrated for their resilience and versatility, are a diverse group of small-seeded grains cherished across cultures. Their impressive nutritional profile includes dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, they serve as valuable sources of plant-based protein.

Written By: India TV Lifestyle Desk New Delhi Updated on: September 12, 2023 14:44 IST
Millets
Image Source : FREEPIK Millets

Millets are a group of small-seeded, hardy cereal grains that have been cultivated for thousands of years and serve as a significant food source for many cultures around the world. These grains are known for their adaptability to various environmental conditions, making them an essential crop in regions with challenging growing conditions such as drought-prone areas.

Here are some key points about millets:

  • Diversity: There are several types of millets, each with its unique characteristics and nutritional profiles. Common varieties of millets include foxtail millet, pearl millet (bajra), proso millet, finger millet (ragi), little millet, kodo millet, and barnyard millet.
  • Nutritional Value: Millets are highly nutritious and offer a range of essential nutrients. They are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins (such as B vitamins and vitamin E), minerals (including calcium, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus), and antioxidants. Some millets, like finger millet (ragi), are particularly rich in calcium and iron.
  • Gluten-Free: Most millets are naturally gluten-free, making them suitable for individuals with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.
  • Protein Content: Millets contain a moderate amount of protein, making them an important source of plant-based protein, especially in vegetarian and vegan diets.
  • Low Glycemic Index: Some millets, like finger millet (ragi), have a lower glycemic index, which means they can help stabilize blood sugar levels and may be beneficial for people with diabetes.
  • Versatile Use: Millets can be used in various culinary applications. They are commonly used to make porridge, flatbreads, rice alternatives, and even alcoholic beverages. Millet flour can be used for baking, and millet grains can be cooked similarly to rice or quinoa.
  • Climate Resilience: Millets are known for their drought-resistant and heat-tolerant qualities. They require less water compared to other major cereal crops like rice and wheat, making them a sustainable choice in regions facing water scarcity.
  • Traditional and Cultural Significance: Millets have been a staple food in many cultures for centuries. They hold cultural significance in various regions and are used in traditional dishes and rituals.

Millets are generally considered a good source of protein, especially when compared to other grains like rice and wheat. The protein content in millets can vary slightly depending on the specific type of millet. Here's an approximate range of protein content in various millets:

  • Foxtail Millet: Contains about 12-15% protein.
  • Pearl Millet (Bajra): Contains around 10-12% protein.
  • Proso Millet: Contains about 10-12% protein.
  • Finger Millet (Ragi): Contains a higher protein content, typically around 7-10% protein, making it one of the richest sources among millets.
  • Little Millet: Contains approximately 7-9% protein.
  • Kodo Millet: Contains about 8-10% protein.
  • Barnyard Millet: Contains around 10-12% protein.
  • Sorghum (Jowar): Although not technically a millet, it is often included in this category and contains around 8-12% protein.

As for who can consume millets, they are generally considered suitable for a wide range of people due to their nutritional benefits. Here are some groups of individuals who can benefit from including millets in their diets:

  • Vegans and Vegetarians: Millets can be an excellent source of plant-based protein, making them a valuable addition to vegetarian and vegan diets.
  • People with Gluten Sensitivity or Celiac Disease: Most millets are naturally gluten-free, making them a safe and nutritious option for individuals who need to avoid gluten.
  • Athletes and Active Individuals: Millets provide sustained energy due to their complex carbohydrates and protein content, making them a good choice for those with active lifestyles.
  • Diabetics: Some millets, like finger millet (ragi), have a lower glycemic index and may help regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Children and the Elderly: Millets can be easily digested and are nutrient-dense, making them suitable for both growing children and older adults.
  • Weight Watchers: Millets are relatively low in calories and can be part of a balanced diet for those looking to manage or lose weight.
  • Individuals Seeking Nutrient Diversity: Including a variety of grains, including millets, in one's diet can provide a broader range of nutrients and flavors.
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