Millets: Return to a Glorious Health

Millets: Return to a Glorious Health

Superfoods have shaken the food industry and our kitchens a lot in the last year. From exotic names to strange colours and textures, we have started tapping the power of so many seeds, flowers, fruits, recipes and nuts that we often forget wonders which are available right at a hand’s stretch.

Millets have been an integral part of India’s staple meals always. From villages to cult restaurants, from grandpa’s recipe to contemporary chef fusions, they have been around us without too much fuss or noise.

The goldmine of nutrients and health-advantages that is nestled within them cannot be ignored. They are much more than bird-food or cereal flakes or fodder. They are Clark Kents of the food world - natural bounties that are disguised as simple food. But they are no less than a Superman if you can see them for what they really are.

Millets – hot and steamy again

They are easy to produce, affordable and easy to cook. From scientists to farmers to fitness-conscious consumers, millets are catching the attention of so many people for reasons that range as wide as agriculture production, easy food distribution, drought-resistance, food security, climate change, and diet benefits. Because they need less water to grow and can thrive in poor soil qualities too, they are also known as climate-smart cereals.

Types of Millets

It is not hard to classify millets. A look at a typical Indian thali will spell out their varieties. From Jowar, Semolina, Foxtail millets, Pearl millets or Bajra to the good-old Ragi, we know them all. Then there is Barnyard millet, Proso millet, and Kodo millet too. They make our muffins, upma, dosa, porridge, and snacks taste delicious and easy every day.

Health benefits

Millets are gluten-free and easy for everyone to consume. They are exemplary food items for weight loss regimens. Their calcium-proportion is considerably higher than rice and wheat. Foxtail millet, for instance, will give you carbohydrates but without sending your blood sugar levels off the charts. Millets bolster immunity system and guard against mineral deficiency. Rich presence of iron, zinc, potassium and copper in millets is a huge plus. Magnesium, in particular, staves off type-2 diabetes and is found well in millets.

They are valuable when you want to eat well but without spiking glycemic index or waistlines. Ragi, another good example, is great for diabetic patients. Barnyard millet is a smart option when you are looking for antioxidants. High fiber content and good, essential fats make millets not just a healthy choice but quite an easy and affordable one too. They help in the slow and gradual release of glucose in the body and thus align well with the body’s natural abilities to absorb and digest sugar.

They have high quantities of antioxidants and proteins too. And phytonutrients. Their use in fighting asthma, diabetes, artery disorders, strokes, heart diseases, coronary blockages, colon conditions, weight issues, prevention of Celiac disease, tackling muscle degradation, gallbladder stones etc., is notable and long-lasting. So is their effect on gastrointestinal disorders and problems related to kidney and liver. Packed with curcumin, quercetin and ellagic acid, millets are powerful detox soldiers. They also improve skin elasticity and fitness.

Some precautions before you indulge in millets

It is super easy to use millets, and a variety of recipes and formats are possible. But make sure that they are consumed in moderate quantities. The preparation (with most millets) requires them to be soaked in water an hour or two hours before use. Goitrogen can cause problems related to iodine levels and thyroid if millets are consumed beyond a reasonable level. Hypothyroidism with accompanying depression, sleep anomalies, hair loss, and fatigue is a serious condition if millets are taken without caution. The goitrogenic effect is also exacerbated by cooking this food too much.

Just toss in some caution and care while reaching for this spoonful of health wonders. When consumed with discretion, this food will pour in a lot of health gains and that too without burning holes in your pocket. It is the favourite of farmers and gym-goers alike. So, dig in and enjoy your millets.