Health Benefits of Millet
What is Millet? Millets belong to the category of cereal crops that humans consume in the form of whole grains, while animals are given millet crops as fodder. The crop is harvested throughout the year and is produced largely in the Asian and African regions. Millets have been in use since the ancient times; they are small-grained and come in a variety of colors depending on the atmosphere they are grown in and the kind they belong to.
Since millets belong to the family of whole-grains, they are also rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Studies have shown that there is a large variety of health benefits that are associated with millets related to the heart, blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, muscles, sleep, and weight loss. In the current article, we shed some light on the health benefits of millet grain, different types of millets, ways to cook millet, recommended daily intake, and potential adverse effects that are associated with the use of millet. Let's begin with the nutritional value of this wholesome whole grain and move on to the significance it provides to the human body.
The following table is based on the nutritional value of 100 g raw millet:
Energy (per 100 g)
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid), Vitamin B6, Vitamin B9 (Folate), Vitamin C, & Vitamin K
Calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, copper, selenium
Water 8.7 g
The table shows the nutritional value one cup of raw millets contains. They are high in calories and quite significant in carb content as well. As for fat, millets are not very high in fat, whereas the protein content is favorable. In addition to the key micronutrients, millets are packed with vitamins such as vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, vitamin B9, vitamin C, and vitamin K. The content of minerals is also substantial with calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, copper and selenium insignificant percentage. Millets also contain ample content of water, and overall, the grain is full of healthy nutrients that provide a generous number of health benefits to the body.
Health Benefits of Millet
Here are some evidence-based health benefits of millet:
- Millet Aids in Weight Loss
As a whole, with calorie content that is not off-limits for health enthusiasts and weight loss aspirants, millet is a great source of nutrients that maintain your energy level while aiding you in weight loss and management. They keep fuller for a long period of time, takes time to digest so that you don't crave unhealthy snacks until it is time for your next meal.
- Millet Boosts the Immune System
Millet contains significant content of protein, which is the building block of our body. Our whole immunity system is built around the amount of protein that we consume. If the protein is at par with what the body requires on a daily basis, it gets easier for the body to fight diseases and prevent them at the same time. A daily intake of millet can provide the body with protein that it requires hence, boosting the immune system.
- Millet Helps with Digestion
Our body needs fiber to digest food properly. Millet is a rich source of dietary fiber that helps with the process of digestion. It alleviates symptoms of bad digestive health such as constipation, bloating, gas, and cramps. Millet also prevents gastric, colon cancer, as well as kidney and liver diseases.
- Millet is a Great Source of Antioxidants
Another essential component that the human body requires on a daily basis is antioxidants. We get our antioxidants from the foods that we consume. Millet is a grain rich in antioxidants. It flushes toxins out of our body and helps with the enzymatic reactions that take place in the body through the rich content of antioxidants it comes with.
- Millet Reduces the Risk of Heart Disease
An important micronutrient that millet contains is natural fat. Natural fat is responsible for providing the energy it needs while optimizing the functioning of the heart at the same time. Millet also contains essential mineral potassium that helps in the regulation of blood pressure and boosts the working of the circulatory system.
Millet is a whole grain fully packed with nutrients. It provides a whole host of health benefits to the body while fighting diseases such as colon cancer, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, muscle degradation, celiac disease, menstrual cramps, and also help promote better sleep. It certainly is a whole grain that you need to incorporate into your balanced, healthy diet plan.
Types of Millet
What we also know as bajra, pearl millet is an incredibly nutritious type of millet. It is greyish in color, and we have mostly known it as a food source for birds. Pearl millet contains calcium, magnesium, iron, protein, and fiber. Daily use of pearl millet in your diet can help with the prevention of Type II Diabetes while providing you with all essential nutrients.
This type of millet, commonly known as 'ragi,' is a protein-rich variety that also contains amino acids and is gluten-free. Finger millet is used in the form of cereal; it increases the efficiency of the brain and aids in the development of children who are in their growing age.
Buckwheat millet is popular for weight loss and diabetics. It is an extremely healthy type of millet that helps the body fight against various diseases and improves heart health.
Known as semolina or rice flour, foxtail millet is rich in iron and calcium content. It helps to lower cholesterol levels in the body and regulates blood sugar levels.
Different Ways Millets Are Utilized
Millets are used in various ways in the form of food, beverages, and even as crops. Some of the ways the mankind has learned to utilize millets are:
Used in Alcohol Manufacturing: They are used in the preparation of alcoholic beverages such as beer, distilled liquor, and indigenous alcoholic drinks of different regions in Nepal.
Millets Are Used in Traditional Cuisines: Another common use of millets is their utilization as a food. Some countries like China, Germany, and Russia liberally make use of millets in their porridges, and in many other regions of the world, they are used in traditional cuisines.
Fodder for Cattle: Millet crops are also used as fodder for sheep and cattle. They are available all around the year; hence, the easy availability makes them a favorite cattle food.
Millet is a multi-purpose grain that can be used in the form of grains, to make beverages, in porridges, in traditional cuisines, as well as a grazing crop for herbivores. The above-mentioned uses of millet show the significance of this crop and why it has been in use since as long as we can remember.
Recommended Daily Intake and Potential Side Effects
Like any other grain, the recommended daily intake of millets depends on your overall calorie requirement. If you are somebody who consumes 1500-2000 calories per day, then one serving of millets that is 1 cup or 100 grams would be sufficient. The grain is to be consumed in a moderate amount; however, if once exceeds the recommended daily intake content, some side effects have been reported in such cases. For example, excessive use of millets may cause a thyroid gland condition known as goiter. As a result, goiter leads to dry skin, anxiety, and depression. Therefore, people with thyroid conditions need to be careful in the consumption of millet grain. Other than that, no severe side effects of this particular whole grain have been reported. In fact, they are a healthy and extremely nutritious source of energy and numerous other health benefits.
Ever since the world has started evolving in terms of discovering the health benefits of different varieties of natural foods such as whole grains, millets have come up as grain rich in nutrition and value. They are cultivated all around the world, all year long, and used in the processes of making food, beverages, and fodder. Although millets have been in use for thousands of years, the awakening of their health benefits has rendered them as a staple food in many regions of the world.
Millets are packed with multivitamins, minerals, and key micronutrients that provide our body with the energy it needs to carry on with daily chores. Other than that, they are a source of numerous health benefits that impact all our vital organs and their functioning. It is no secret anymore that a daily intake of millet can prevent many diseases from you, it can provide your body with ample nutrition, and the best thing is that it does not cost much. So why not make use of this gift of nature and make millet a part of our daily diet.