With several studies supporting millet as a highly nutritious and healthy food, it is just disheartening that most of us are still oblivious of why millet is an essential grain. Despite being a popular grain, most of us are rather reluctant in including this tiny seeded cereal in our diets. The truth still remains that millet is one of the oldest cereal that is in high demand especially for culinary purposes due to its health-supporting features.
Millet belongs to the grass family of Poaceae and has the ability to thrive well in dry areas and less fertile soil. Millet is also pest, disease and drought resistant with the tendency to survive under high-temperature conditions and within a short growing season.
Millets are originally from countries like Nigeria, Japan, India, Sudan, Niger and Mali before spreading to other parts of the world. Most millet cultivars are distinguished by their short life cycles and they bear deep, sturdy roots that can withstand adverse weather conditions.
The most common millet cultivars are pearl millet, little millet (Panicum sumatrense), browntop millet (korle), finger millet (Latin Eleusine coracana), foxtail millet (thinai), Guinea millet (Brachiaria), kodo millet (Paspalum scrobiculatum) and proso millet (Panicum miliaceum or white millet, broomtail millet, broomcorn millet, red millet, common millet, Kashfi millet or hog millet).
Nutritional Values of Millet
Millet is an excellent source of essential minerals and vitamins such as dietary fiber, carbohydrates, protein, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6, vitamin B9 (folate), vitamin C, vitamin K, omega 3, omega 6, calcium, selenium, magnesium, manganese, sodium, zinc, copper, iron, potassium and phosphorus. These vitamins and minerals are recommended for the healthy functioning of our bodies.
Millet can be cooked and consumed alone or served together with rice, beans, tomato stew, mixed vegetables or spicy sauces. Millet can also be used for preparing bread, cookies, millet porridge, dosa, dumplings, roti, biscuits and beverages (examples; millet beer, tongba, boza, ajono, rakshi or aila liquor and kunu or kwunu drink).
Ideal for Celiac Patients
According to Swaminaidu et al., (2015), millet is gluten free thus individuals suffering from gluten-related disorders such as coeliac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity can include millet in their diets.
According to Bommy and Maheswari (2016), millet is the most digestible grains due to its high constituents of dietary fibre. As a result, millet consumption is highly recommended for preventing indigestion and for aiding easy bowel movement.
Other Medicinal Benefits of Millets
Swaminaidu et al., (2015) reported that millet should be an essential part of our diet due to the following reasons;
~ Millet is suitable for reducing the cholesterol level.
~ Millet is effective for reducing the blood pressure level.
~ Millet aids the development and repair of our body cells and tissues.
~ Millet promotes weight loss and maintains healthy body weight.
~ Millet is suitable for cardiac patients.
~ Millet is an excellent source of insoluble fibre thus essential for inhibiting the formation of gallstones.
~ Millet minimises the onset of breast cancer, especially in premenopausal women.
~ Millet is highly nutritious and packed with essential vitamins.
~ Millet has a low glycemic index (GI) and low glycemic load (GL) thus capable of minimising the risk of Type 2 diabetes, especially in women. Unlike rice, millet consumption leads to a slower release of glucose over a period of time thus highly recommended to inhibit the onset of diabetes mellitus.
Birds feed on millet and it can also be served as a livestock fodder, poultry feed or cattle feed.
This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnostic and treatments. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.
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6] Pixabay (2017), Images from pixabay
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