Millets – The neglected wonder crop of India promises to address the world’s food and nutrition challenge!

The neglect and non inclusion of ‘Millets’ in the typical Indian diet is undoubtedly one of the biggest reasons for the lack of nourishment and balanced nutrition leading to a host of health issues that our countrymen suffer across the nation. Studies indicate that the ancient Indian diet was a healthy and balanced one consisting of a good quantity of millets that grew in the respective region combined with wheat and rice. While for  reasons unknown it has been seen that cultivation of millets reduced drastically all over the country in recent areas with cultivation of wheat and rice taking over large tracts of farm land which were earlier under millet cultivation. A disturbing fact is that rice/wheat have largely replaced millets intake even in the rural areas thanks to urbanization and changing preferences. This has led to a general deterioration in health and galloping of life style diseases like Diabetes and High blood pressure across the country.
A close look at Millets in terms of their high and varied nutritional content, medicinal properties, rich fiber content, non acidic and fatty nature coupled with their ease of cultivation even in arid lands, make Millets truly a ‘Godsend’ to humanity. While India has the pride of being the world’s largest producer of millets, it is sad to note that this Super nutri crop is highly inadequate or totally absent in the modern Indian diet, with rice/wheat being the two major cereals of consumption.
Let us take a quick look at some of the common millets, their nutritional and therapeutic properties and a few marvelous cooking recipes that shatter the myth that Millets may not be a tasty option.

Types of Millets:

Sorghum: Hindi name: Jowar

Its nutritional profile is better than rice, being rich in thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid, calcium, iron, zinc and phosphorus it aids in control of heart problems, obesity and arthritis.

Pearl millet: Hindi name: Bajra

Due to its high tolerance to grow in difficult conditions such as drought, low soil fertility, high temperatures it can be grown in areas where wheat, maize would not survive. This millet possesses phytochemicals that lowers cholesterol. It is also rich in folic acid, vitamin E, B-complex, calcium and zinc.

Finger millet: Hindi name: Mandua (Ragi)

Commonly used in Goa and South India, its rich in calcium, vitamin A, phosphorus and essential amino acids thus helping in bone health and prevents intestinal cancer.

Foxtail millet: Hindi name: Kakum (Kang)

It has double the quantity of protein content compared to rice. It controls blood cholesterol levels. Being rich in fiber, calcium

and vitamins it is good for diabetics, pregnant women and children keeping body strong and increasing immunity.

Kodo millet: Hindi name: Kodon

It has the highest amount of fiber amongst all the millets thus preventing constipation. It has high amounts of lecithin aiding in strengthening the nervous system. Rich in B-vitamins, folic acid, niacin and B6; it is very beneficial for postmenopausal women suffering from cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.

Barnyard millet: Hindi name: Sanwa (Shyama/ Udhalu)

It is a good source of protein which is highly digestible, low carbohydrate content also rich in essential fatty acids and excellent source of dietary soluble and insoluble fiber. It is nature’s gift for Diabetics, gluten intolerant, people with celiac disease and those with a sedentary lifestyle.

Proso millet: Hindi name: Barree (Baragu/Vari)

This millet releases energy in the body on consumption at a very slow rate thus allowing one to work from morning to evening without getting tired. It has high amounts of calcium promoting bone growth and maintenance. It has also been shown to prevent breast cancer, reduce cholesterol and thereby reducing the risk for heart disease.

Little millet: Hindi name: Kutki (Saama/ Saamai)

It is generally consumed as rice, and any recipe using rice can be replaced with little millet. It has good content of dietary fiber.

Pseudo millets-These are not true millets but are nutritionally similar to millets. Amaranth and Buckwheat are such pseudo millets.

Amaranth (Rajgira)-Helps in decreasing blood cholesterol levels, stimulates immune system, reduces osteoporosis.

Buckwheat (Kuttu)– Aids in weight loss, has low glycemic index so improving blood sugar control, lowers blood pressure.

Tasty and healthy Millet foods

Jowar Muffins – The ideal anytime snack

Jowar Dosa – A healthy alternative to conventional dosa Methi Bajra Thalipetha – A wholesome tasty snack

Nutty Pearl Millet Laddoo – A safe and tasty choice for those with a sweet tooth when compared to regular mithai

Finger Millet bounty bar– A balanced and healthy cake without starch or glucose, for cake lovers

Ragi idli – A more nutritious version of India’s most common breakfast snack

Millets and Veggie burger – A balanced burger you can indulge without fear or guilt of putting weight

Foxtail Millet Laddoo – A non gluttonous laddoo one can revel in.

Kodo Millet Kheer – The perfect nutritional desert

Kodo Millet upma A tasty, healthy version of a popular breakast snack

Proso Millet Madduwada and Burger – Anytime snack delights Barnyard Millet steamed dumpling – A non oily safe treat Barnyard Millet Mysore Pak- Great news for the sweet toothed Little Millet samosa- The healthy tea time snack

Little Millet baked pudding – A yummy treat for the calorie conscious.

Honorable prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modiji proposed to the United Nations that year 2023 be declared and observed as the ‘International year of Millets’ all over the world, a colossal step which would make a dramatic improvement in the health, prevent malnutrition and lifestyle related diseases not only in India but the whole world, in addition to feeding the hungry millions and ensuring a fair deal to farmers across the world. As an institution committed to preventive good health through better dietary and lifestyle changes we at Healthway Super specialty Hospital, Goa take great pride in making our humble contribution to the Prime

Minister’s ambitious dream and the United Nations’ endeavors towards making the world a healthier place to live, by popularizing and increasing Millet consumption through a special drive by our Dietetics department which would create awareness and educate the benefits of consuming various kind  of Millets, to as many people as we can reach out to.

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