The magic grain

Millets are the oldest and one of the most important cereals consumed around the world. However, traditional dishes prepared from millets are fast disappearing from our kitchens. Today, there is lack of awareness about the high nutritional value and health benefits of millets such as jowar (sorghum), bajra (pearl millet), ragi (finger millet), harka (kodo millet), baragu (proso millet), navane (foxtail millet), samai (little millet) and barnyard millet.

Rich in fibre, millets make for a filling meal, as they slow down digestion and keep the stomach full for a longer period of time. This also prevents one from overeating, and millets are therefore ideal for weight-loss. Millet oil is also a good source of linoleic acid and tocopherols. Since they are gluten-free and non-allergic, millets are safe for children and adults suffering from gluten allergy and celiac disease. The incidence of diabetes and gastrointestinal disorders are less among those who consume millets. It eliminates problems such as constipation, excess gas, bloating, and cramping. The soothing alkaline nature of millets helps to maintain a healthy pH balance in the body, which is crucial in preventing illnesses.

Fibre is considered an essential component in our diet for the prevention and management of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and disorders of the colon. Millets are one of the richest sources of dietary fibre, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, magnesium, not to mention a healthy source of essential fats in the body.

For mothers, it is a challenge to meet the daily nutritional requirements of their kids, and the inclusion of millets will increase the nutritional value of their children’s diet. The simplest way of incorporating these magic grains in your food is by mixing millet flour with wheat flour to make chapatis or by replacing rice with millets. While cooking millets in a pressure cooker, ensure that you add water four times the volume of the millet. You can include millets in the dishes like khichdi, pulav, porridge or any other rice dish.
(The author is a nutritionist.)

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