Top List of Millets
- Proso millet (Cheena, Cheno, Chena, Barri, Vari, China Bachari, Bagmu, Variga, Baragu, Panivaragu)
- Little Millet (Sama, Gajro, Kuri, Kutki, Shavan, Same, Save, Sava, Halvi, Vari, Suan, Swank, Saamey, Samai, Samalu)
- Pearl Millet (Bajra, Bajri, Sajjey, Sajja, Kambu)
- Foxtail millet (Kaon, Kang, Kakum, Kang, Rala, Kanghu, Kangam, Kora, Kangni, Korra, Navaney, Thinai)
- Fonio millet (Acha rice)
- Black fonio
- Polish millet
- Japanese banyard millet
- Indian barnyard millet (Sanwa, Oodalu, Udalu, Kihira, Swank, Kodisama, Kuthirai vaali, Bhagar, Varai, Shyama)
- Buru Millet
- Common barnyard millet (Cockspur grass)
- Kodo millet (Kodo, Kodra, Kodon, Kodua, Arikelu, Arika, Varagu, Haraka)
- Guinea millet
- Browntop millet (Korle)
- Sorghum (great millet, Jowar, Cholam, Jonna, Juara, Jwari, Jola)
- Job's tears (Adlay millet)
The term “millets” refers to several species of cereal grasses which have been cultivated by farmers since ancient times. They were first domesticated about 10,000 years ago from wild ancestors growing on river banks or along streams. These cereals include finger millet, foxtail millet, proso millet, barnyard millet, red sorghum, pearl millet, ragi and jowar.
These miracle grains are used extensively throughout Asia, Africa and South America where they form an important part of the diet. In addition to being consumed directly, these crops can be processed into flour, porridge, breads, cakes, noodles, couscous, polenta, etc., making them useful ingredients in many cuisines around the world.
A lot of people think millets are just another grain like rice or corn. However, millets are actually quite unique because they are a good source of protein and fiber while being low in carbohydrates.
Let's look at some of the health benefits of eating millets regularly.
Health Benefits Of Millets
1. High Protein Content – provides an excellent source of complete proteins which means they contain all nine essential amino acids needed by human body. These include lysine, methionine, cystine, tryptophan, valine, leucine, phenylalanine, histidine, arginine, and proline. They help build strong muscles and bones.
2. Rich Fiber – rich in dietary fibers such as beta-glucans, pectins, hemicelluloses, cellulose, gums, mucilages, and phytates. Dietary fiber in millet has several benefits including helping lower cholesterol levels, reducing blood pressure, preventing constipation, promoting healthy digestion, improving bowel movement, improving immune system function, lowering risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, improved cardiovascular health, colon cancer, etc.
3. Low Glycemic Index –Because it doesn’t spike insulin like other grains do, it helps control blood sugar level after meals.
4. Antioxidant Properties – one of the richest sources of antioxidants found in foods.
5. Vitamin K – is loaded with vitamin k1, which plays an important role in bone growth and development.
6. Iron – is a good source of iron content.
7. Magnesium – is packed with magnesium, which is vital for energy production and muscle contraction.
8. Calcium – is high on calcium content.
9. Zinc – is rich source of zinc.
10. Phosphorus – is abundant in phosphorous, which is necessary for proper functioning of nerves, teeth, hair, skin, nails, and eyes.
11. Potassium – is full of potassium, which aids in maintaining fluid balance within cells.
12. Selenium – is considered a superfood because it's rich in selenium, which protects against cell damage caused by free radicals and can protect you against cardiovascular disease.
13. Copper – is high in copper, which promotes normal brain activity.
14. Manganese – is another nutrient that supports healthy metabolism.
15. Iodine – is an excellent source of iodine, which is required for thyroid hormone synthesis.
16. Pantothenic Acid – is filled with pantothenic acid, which is crucial for nervous system functions.
17. Riboflavin – is chockfull of riboflavin, which is responsible for red coloration of milk produced from cows fed on pearl millet.
18. Niacin – supplies plenty of niacin, which is critical for building up tissues and organs.
19. Folate – is extremely rich in folic acid, which is beneficial for pregnant women and children.
20. Thiamine – offers ample amounts of thiamine, which is involved in carbohydrate breakdown and fat burning.
21. Choline – is enriched with choline, which is helpful in boosting memory and concentration.
22. Lutein – contains lots of lutein, which is associated with eye health.
23. Beta Carotene – is brimming with beta carotene, which is linked to vision protection.
Is millet good for weight loss?
Millet has been used by humans since ancient times. Its benefits were known long ago. Today, scientists continue to study its health effects. Some studies suggest that millet consumption may improve blood sugar levels and reduce cholesterol. Others say it helps prevent cancer. Still others report that it improves bone density.
So what does science tell us about millet's potential role in weight management?
Research so far suggests that this grain could be a useful addition to your diet if you are trying to lose or maintain weight.
How Does Millet Help You Lose Weight?
Several researchers believe that millet contains compounds that promote healthy metabolism. These compounds include antioxidants and phytochemicals. Phyto means "plant" and chemo means "chemical." So these terms refer to plant-based chemicals found naturally in foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, beans, herbs, spices, and teas. They're also called non-nutritive substances. The body uses them as energy sources when food intake is low. In other words, they help keep our bodies running smoothly even when we don't eat enough calories.
Researchers have studied how certain nutrients affect metabolic processes. For example, some people think that vitamin C can boost metabolism. Other experts disagree. One thing everyone agrees on is that consuming more antioxidant vitamins will protect your body from harmful chemical reactions. Antioxidants neutralize potentially damaging molecules called free radicals. Free radicals cause inflammation throughout the body. This leads to conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cataracts, macular degeneration, and many types of cancers. Eating foods containing antioxidants reduces the risk of developing diseases related to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when there aren't enough antioxidants available to fight off free radical attacks.
What Are Non-Nutritive Substances Called?
Non-nutritive substances are sometimes referred to as bioactive components. Bioactive refers to something that affects biological systems. A substance that doesn't contain protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, or water is classified as a non-nutritive component. Examples of non-nutritive components include fiber, polyphenols, flavonoids, saponins, tannins, alkaloids, terpenes, essential oils, amino acids, fatty acid derivatives, glycosides, glucosinolates, peptides, proteins, sterols, and triterpens.
Why Is It Important To Consume More Of Them?
The human body needs all kinds of different nutrients to function properly. However, not every nutrient works well together. That's why nutritionists recommend eating several servings of various foods each day. Each type of food provides specific nutrients needed at different stages of life. When you consume multiple foods, you get an assortment of nutrients. Your body then combines those nutrients into one package. If you only ate one kind of food, you would miss out on important combinations of nutrients.
For instance, most Indians do not meet their daily requirements for calcium. Calcium plays a vital role in building strong bones. But getting adequate amounts requires eating plant based products such as green leafy vegetables and millets. Green leafy veggies provide magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, folate, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, thiamine, phosphorus, and selenium. Dairy products supply calcium, phosphorous, sodium, potassium, chloride, iodine, and biotin. Magnesium, potassium, and chlorine work together to regulate fluid balance within cells.
Imagine eating millets with a healthy plate of fruits and vegetables! Why are fruits and vegetables important?
The Benefits of Eating Fruits & Vegetables
Eating fruits and vegetables can be one of your best ways to improve health and wellness. They're packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and other nutrients that help keep you strong inside and out.
Here's how they work for your body:
1. Fiber helps regulate digestion and keeps things moving smoothly through your system. It also lowers cholesterol levels and reduces risk of heart disease.
2. Antioxidants fight free radicals in our bodies, which cause damage when we age or get sick. These compounds may even prevent cancer from developing.
3. Phytochemicals found in many foods have anti-inflammatory properties that reduce pain and swelling. Some research suggests these substances could protect against certain types of cancers as well.
4. Vitamins A, C, E, B6, folate, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, phosphorus, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, vitamin K, pantothenic acid, biotin, choline, lutein/zeaxanthin, lycopene, beta carotene, alpha lipoic acid, and others all play important roles in maintaining good overall health.
5. The more colorful your plate, the better!
Let us now look at a few different types of Millets commonly found in India.
Finger Millet (Ragi)
What is Finger Millet?
Finger millets are small grains native to Africa. They were originally cultivated by ancient Egyptians who used them as food and medicine. Today, finger millet has become popular among health conscious individuals because of its high protein content and low glycemic index.
Here's what you should know about finger millet.
What does it taste like?
It tastes similar to corn or rice but with a nutty flavor. It can be cooked in the same way that we cook other cereals such as oats, wheat, barley etc. You can also eat it raw if you prefer.
How do I prepare it for cooking?
You need to soak your finger millet overnight before using it. This will help make sure that all the nutrients get absorbed into the grain.
You can use either white or brown finger millet depending on how much color you want in your dish. Brown finger millet tends to have more nutritional value than white finger millet. However, both types work equally well when preparing dishes.
The amount of time required to cook depends on the type of recipe you're making. Soaking the grain helps reduce this difference between different varieties of finger millet.
For most recipes, 1 cup of uncooked finger millet needs around 10 minutes to cook.
If you don't mind eating something crunchy, try adding a little salt while boiling your finger millet.
If you'd rather enjoy some softness, add an extra tablespoon of ground coconut powder during cooking.
Proso Millet (Panivaragu)
What is Proso Millet?
Proso millet or Panivaragu is a type of cereal grain native to Africa. It has been used by humans since ancient times due to its high nutritional value. Today, vargu is still widely consumed throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa.
Here's what you should know about proso millet if you want to start eating it today.
1) What are the different types of varagu?
There are two main varieties of varagu: red and white. Red varagu is more common in West African countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Togo, Cameroon, etc.
White varagu is found mainly in East Africa and India.
2) How do I cook proso millet?
Cooking methods vary depending on how you plan to use your vargu. If you're going to eat them as whole grains, then they can be cooked using any method that works for other cereals such as rice or quinoa. However, when cooking vargu flour, there are specific techniques that work best.
3) Is proso millet gluten free?
Yes! The protein content of vargu makes it suitable for people with celiac disease who need to avoid wheat products. In fact, many health experts recommend consuming vargu instead of bread because it contains less carbohydrates than traditional foods.
4) Can I substitute proso millet for regular oats?
You may find yourself substituting vargu for oatmeal quite often. This happens because both have similar textures and flavors. They also contain roughly the same amount of fiber per serving.
Little Millet (Samai)
What is Little Millet?
It is a cereal grain that belongs to the family Gramineae. The plant has an erect stem with leaves arranged alternately on either side of the stalk. Each leaf consists of 3-5 leaflets which are oblong or lanceolate shaped. Flowers grow singly at the top end of each branch. They have 5 sepals and petals. There are 10 stamens and 2 pistils. Seeds form after flowering. These seeds contain protein, carbohydrates, minerals like iron, calcium etc., and vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, etc.
1. Helps In Weight Loss
Samai helps you lose weight by increasing your metabolism rate. It contains high amounts of fiber, so it keeps you full for longer periods of time. Also, this food increases your energy levels and makes you feel fuller than usual.
2. Good Source Of Iron And Calcium
Samai is rich in both these nutrients. You can get all the essential elements from this food without having any negative effects on your health.
3. Rich In Vitamin C & Folate
This food is very good source of vitamin C and folates. Both these nutrients help keep our immune system strong and healthy.
4. High Protein Content
Since this food is low calorie, it provides more proteins per serving compared to other grains. So if you want to increase muscle mass then try eating some Samai every day.
5. Low Glycemic Index
If you’re looking for foods that will not make you gain extra pounds, then look no further! Because this food has a lower glycemic index, it won’t cause spikes in blood sugar level.
6. Great Food To Eat With Rice Or Bread
When cooked properly, Samai tastes great when eaten along with rice or bread.
7. Easy On Your Budget
Compared to other cereals, Samai costs less money because it doesn’t require much processing before consumption.
Pearl Millet (Bajra)
What is Pearl Millet?
Pearl millet has been used by humans since ancient times. Its nutritional value makes it very popular among farmers who use it as animal feed.
The seeds of pearl millet look like small black peppercorns. They grow up to 2 inches tall with brownish-green leaves. This grass grows well on poor soil and can tolerate drought conditions. It also tolerates heat and cold temperatures. In fact, some farmers plant pearl millet during winter when other crops aren't growing because they know it will come back every year.
In Africa, where pearl millet originated, people have eaten it as food for thousands of years. For example, the Yoruba tribe eats it cooked into porridge called fufu. Other tribes eat it raw. And many use it as animal feed.
The grain of pearl millet, also known as Bajra, belongs to the grass family and is a member of the Poaceae tribe. It was first domesticated in India around 5000 BC. Today, this cereal crop is grown on more than 20 million hectares worldwide. The most important producers are China, India, Pakistan, and many African countries.
Does Pearl Millet Taste Good?
Pearl Millet is one of those foods that people love to hate because it tastes so bad. However, there are many health benefits associated with eating it regularly. So what exactly makes it such a great food choice?
The first thing we notice when looking into the nutritional value of pearl millet is its high fibre content. This means that it will help keep you full longer than most grains. In addition, it contains more protein per serving compared to wheat grain which helps boost muscle growth. Another benefit of pearl millet is that it doesn't contain gluten - making it suitable for anyone who suffers from celiac disease.
If you're interested in adding some extra nutrients to your diet then try incorporating pearl millet as part of your daily meal plan.
What is Foxtail Millet?
A staple food crop used by millions around the world, foxtail millet has been cultivated since ancient times. Its nutritional benefits are numerous, making it a valuable addition to any healthy eating plan.
Learn what makes foxtail millet such a nutritious grain and why its popularity continues to rise.
In addition, this gluten-free whole grain can be cooked like rice or couscous, which means you don’t have to worry about cross contamination when cooking with other grains. It also contains more protein than most other cereals, including quinoa.
The healthiest way of preparing foxtail millet: Boil in water for 20 minutes until tender before adding salt and pepper. You may add spices if desired. Serve as an accompaniment to other Indian dishes such as sambar or sabji or you can even use it in salads.
Is foxtail millet better than rice?
Rice has been used by humans since ancient times. However, its use was limited due to low nutritional value compared to other grains such as wheat, corn, oats, barley etc. Nowadays, rice is considered as one of the major staple foods around the world. But did you know that foxtail millet is also known as African pearl grain?
It is rich in minerals and vitamins, especially iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin and vitamin B6. These nutrients help maintain good blood circulation and prevent anaemia. In fact, foxtail millets contain higher levels of these essential micronutrients than brown rice.
FAQ on Millets
Can I eat millet everyday?
Yes you can! Millets have a high nutritional value with low calories. It is an excellent source of dietary fibre which helps in digestion and absorption of other foods. The most common type of millet used for human consumption is pearl millet. Pearl millet has been cultivated since ancient times as it grows well even under drought conditions. In addition, it contains more than 20% crude protein compared to wheat at about 12%. This makes it ideal food for people who do not get enough proteins from their diet.
Pearl millet is rich in B-complex group of vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid and folic acid. It also provides vitamin E, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, copper, manganese, iodine and selenium. Millets are very good sources of carbohydrates, fats and oils. However, they should be consumed along with some healthy fat like olive oil or ghee.
How much millet should one consume daily?
The recommended intake per day varies depending on age and gender. For children aged 6 months to 3 years, 1/2 cup of cooked millet serves as a complete meal. Adults need 2 cups of cooked millet per serving. One cup of uncooked millet will serve two adults.
Is millet a wheat?
Millets are not technically "wheat" but rather they belong to the grass family. They have been cultivated for thousands of years, and were used by ancient civilizations such as Egypt, China, India, Japan, Korea, etc.
They can be eaten like rice or couscous, cooked with other ingredients, ground into flour, made into porridge, breads, cakes, cookies, muffins, pancakes, waffles, pasta, pizza crust, crackers, salads, soups, stews, stir fry dishes, etc. It's very versatile!
Does Millet contain Gluten?
The main differences from wheat are that millets don't contain gluten, so if you're sensitive to gluten then you won't experience any problems eating them. Also, because they aren't processed using heat, they retain more nutrients than wheat does when cooking.
It’s important to note that while all cereals are classified as “whole grains,” there are significant differences among whole grains.
Is millet a carbohydrate or protein?
In general, millets are considered non-starchy vegetables due to their lower glycemic index. But, they still provide energy just like starches. So, yes, millets are carbs. And no, millets are NOT a starch. Starch refers to complex sugars found only in plants. While millets may contain small amounts of sugar, they are primarily composed of glucose molecules linked together through long chains called polysaccharides. Polysaccharide means many sacs. That's why we call them complex carbohydrates.
What is the difference between millet and sorghum?
Sorghum is another cereal crop grown worldwide. Sorghum comes from the same plant family as corn, yet its seeds look different. Like millet, sorghum is often referred to as a pseudocereal. Both millet and sorghums are members of the Poaceae family.
Both millet and sorghuma are nutritious crops that grow easily in warm climates around the world. They both produce edible grains that are easy to cook and digest.
Which type of millet is best?
Pearl : Good for Insomnia.
Kodo : Good for Diabetics.
Foxtail : Good for Thyroid.
Barnyard : Good for Weight Loss.
Little : An Indispensable Good Fat.
Proso : Balance Blood Sugar.
Does millet cause gas?
Yes, millets do cause gas. However, this isn't necessarily bad news. In fact, some studies show that certain types of millets help reduce flatulence. The problem arises when people try to eliminate these foods completely. Millets are very high in fiber content which aids digestion. If you suffer from chronic diarrhea due to poor digestion, consider including more millets into your daily diet plan. Fiber helps keep your digestive system moving smoothly.
Is millet a substitute for rice?
No. Rice has a higher GI value than most millets. This makes it easier to digest. You'll also find that millets tend to absorb water better than rice. As a result, they expand less during cooking. Instead of thinking of it as an alternative to rice, think of it as a complement. Eat Brown or black or any other unpolished whole grain rice. However, avoid white rice. Eating whole grains give you immense health benefits and control blood glucose levels.
Are millets good for diabetics?
Some research suggests that millets might improve blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. Talk to your doctor before making changes to your diet.
Do millets make me fat?
If you follow an unhealthy lifestyle, consuming too many calories without exercising regularly, then yes, millets can lead to weight gain. As long as you eat healthy fats along with your millets, you will be fine.
How can I get rid of my belly bloat after having millets?
Millets have been used traditionally by Ayurvedic practitioners to treat indigestion and heartburn. It seems that millets work well at reducing excess wind caused by overeating. Specific reductions in fat in the body is not advisable or possible by any dietary system. Eating whole food plant-based diet that includes millets will help to reach a safe and stable weight and gain health.
Why does millet smell so sweet?
The aroma of it is attributed to their natural sweetness. When cooked, it releases moisture and becomes sticky. This causes the surface area of the grain to increase. During baking, the increased surface area allows air to penetrate deeper inside the grain resulting in a sweeter flavor.
What's the difference between millet flour and cornmeal?
Cornmeal is ground up dried kernels of maize. Cornmeal contains no gluten but may contain small amounts of protein derived from wheat. On the other hand, millet flour is made from milled seeds of it. Unlike cornmeal, millet flour doesn’t contain gluten. Instead, it contains proteins. These proteins give it its unique texture and taste.
References & Further Reading
Gluten Free Millet and Almond Bread
What Healthy Foods To Eat Everyday?
Whole Food Plant Based Diet Beginner's Guide