Recently, there’s been quite a buzz around the concept of including more millets in your diet. About how they boost your health, are good for weight loss and are gluten-free. There are many articles which float around the internet with titles like “The miracle food group” or “Try the millet diet and lose weight instantly”, and as a result, health junkies have jumped onto the millet bandwagon.
Now while there is no doubt that millets do hold various nutritional benefits, it is important that we make a fully informed decision before including them in our diet. Let us discuss what exactly are the pros and cons of eating millets. To eat is a necessity, to eat intelligently is an art. It is always better to know every last thing of the foods that go into your body, right?
What are millets?
Millets are coarse grains which contain high reserves of protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The different types in India include your chena (proso millet), sanwa (barnyard millet), ragi (finger millet), korra (foxtail millet), sama (little millet), arke (kodo millet), bajra (pearl millet) and jowar (sorghum). It has been long tagged the ‘poor man’s food’ in India, but of late has been enjoying a rising popularity among the GenNext health-conscious individuals.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF A MILLET DIET
Millets are rich in nutrients such as phosphorus, magnesium, copper, and manganese, leading to several health benefits such as –
Promotes heart health: If you want to protect your heart, these are one of the best possible foods to add to your diet as they are a great source of magnesium. Magnesium is an important mineral for reducing blood pressure and the risk of heart attack and stroke, especially in people who suffer from atherosclerosis or diabetic heart disease. Millets are also rich in potassium which acts as a vasodilator and further keeps your blood pressure low. They optimize your circulatory system leading to a good cardiovascular health.
Prevents asthma: Studies have shown that the magnesium in millets can reduce the severity of asthma and reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. Millets do not share the same components as wheat, which is a common allergen associated with asthma and wheezing attacks. Hence, they do not have the negative effect.
Helps digestion: As it is chock-full of fibers, millets can promote healthy digestion by eliminating problems like excess gas, bloating, constipation and cramping. Regular digestion will help reduce chances of gastrointestinal conditions like gastric ulcers and colon cancer, and can also optimize liver, kidney and immune system health.
Controls cholesterol: There are two types of cholesterol – the dangerous LDL cholesterol and the good HDL cholesterol. The dietary fiber in millets can eliminate LDL cholesterol and promote the healthy effects of HDL cholesterol thereby regulate the cholesterol levels in your body.
Prevents diabetes and breast cancer: Magnesium is an important mineral for increasing efficiency of glucose and insulin receptors in the body. Due to its high levels of magnesium, millets can reduce the chances of Type 2 diabetes. Recent studies have also shown that fiber (which millets are rich in) is one of the best ways to prevent the onset of breast cancer in women.
Gives your body a detox: Millets contain many antioxidants like curcumin, ellagic acid, quercetin and other beneficial catechins which help cleaning up toxins from your body and to neutralize enzymatic activity in your organs.
DOWNSIDES OF A MILLET DIET
Millets do not contain gluten but contain small amounts of goitrogen – substances that interfere with thyroid activity and may lead to goiter if consumed in large amounts. Therefore, people suffering from thyroid issues may need to limit their millets consumption. Overall, it is never good to overeat a particular food so it is better to eat millets in moderation, combining it with other healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean protein.
Here are a few tips on how you can include millet in your diet –
Make a breakfast porridge with cooked millet along with cut fruits and nuts
Add it to a warm salad
Add it to your favorite chopped vegetables and make a stir-fry
Substitute it for rice or potatoes
Add ground millet to muffin and bread recipes
Try making chapatis/rotis using millet flour
Millets are a delicious way to start or end your day. Armed with the knowledge we have given you above, go ahead and make your own millet-inspired recipes!