Recently, when I heard a friend repeatedly mention how shifting to millets (instead of rice) made a difference in his overall health, I asked him what they were. He reminded me that we had learnt about them in school. I recalled jawar and bajra from my school days but never really saw those grains in real, let alone knowing how they tasted.
Coincidently, in the same month, another friend made some millet-based rotis (Indian flat bread) while I was staying at her place, and I found them quite tasty. They are quite difficult to make, so, I finally decided to give the millet rice a try.
WHAT ARE MILLETS?
Millets are round whole grains cultivated in various parts of the world since forever. They have been grown in India, Africa and other parts of Southeast Asia for thousands of years. Millets are a group of small-seeded grasses that are nutritious, non-glutinous and easily digestible.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF MILLETS
There are various types of millets you can include in your diet. Sorghum (jowar), finger millet (ragi) and pearl millet (bajra) are mostly used to make rotis. Foxtail millet (kangni), Barnyard millet, Kodo millet, Little millet and Proso millet are used in rice form. Nevertheless, the above mentioned are amongst the healthiest millet grains you can try.
BENEFITS OF MILLETS
As millets are packed with fibre, antioxidants, protein and nutrients, here are the 5 main benefits of making millets a part of your regular diet.
Helps the digestive system – The insoluble fibre in millets, known as prebiotics, supports the good bacteria in the digestive system. Millets add fibre and bulk to your stools to allow smooth excretion. Therefore, consumption helps improve digestive health and reduces the risk of colon related diseases.
Good for heart health – The soluble fibre in millets help reduce the risk of atherosclerosis as the bad cholesterol is absorbed and flushed out of the system. Millets act as an antioxidant and are said to raise good cholesterol and lower triglycerides thereby keeping the heart healthier.
Aids in weight loss – Millets help in maintaining your weight. They keep you full for a longer time due to the delay in digestion. This helps you prevent snacking, overeating and eating at odd hours.
Boosts the immune system – Protein is an important part of building the body’s immunity. Millets are a great source of protein and help strengthen our immunity.
Controls the blood sugar – Millets have low-glycemic index. This means they are low on simple carbohydrates and rich in complex carbohydrates thereby helping to balance the blood sugar levels in the body.
AVOID OVERCONSUMPTION OF MILLETS
Like anything else, excess intake of millets should be avoided. For instance, too much of only fibre in the system can lead to interference with the functioning of the thyroid gland and stomach. So, while adding millets to your diet, watch the total amount of fibre-rich foods you are consuming.
Millets are not a low-calorie food. Finger millet (ragi) and sorghum (jowar) can be eaten in one meal daily. Other millets can be enjoyed 3 or 4 times a week, depending on your portion size.
It has been two months since various types of millet grains have replaced the heaps of rice in my meals. I feel very good and can see the changes in my health. Therefore, I wanted to spread awareness about these interesting grains and help you switch to a healthy lifestyle.
Do you eat millets or have you tried any before? What is your view about shifting to millets?