Good for You
Multiple health benefits
- Their low glycemic index helps manage blood glucose levels and prevent/control diabetes.
- Millets are high in antioxidants.
- Pearl millet has the highest folic acid content (46 mcg/100g) among cereals, whichis important in preventing certain birth defects and producing healthy red blood cells.. No wonder then, that it is recommended for pregnant women.
- Being gluten free, these Smart Food are easily digestible.
- The fibre and antioxidants in millets help to prevent/manage certain forms of cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
- Pulses such as lentils, pigeonpea and chickpea are a critical part of a healthy diet. They help address obesity and manage chronic diseases such as diabetes and coronary conditions.
Rich in nutrients
- Cereals and legumes that we call Smart Food are high in protein, vitamins and minerals.
- Pulses and cereals provide balanced protein diets comparable to meat or dairy foods. Pulses are high in protein (23%) and provide an affordable source of protein.
- Chickpea has the highest protein bioavailability among pulses.
- Finger millet is very rich in (calcium 340 mg/100g). three times more calcium than milk.
- Pearl millet is rich in iron and zinc: iron-75 mg/kg and zinc 43 mg/kg.
- Germinated pulses have high levels of vitamin B12.
- Major vitamins found in cooked pulses are vitamin B6, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin and folic acid (as folate).
- Chickpea and pigeonpea are great sources of iron, manganese and zinc.
- Green pigeonpea seeds have 28.2% more phosphorus, 17.2% more potassium, 48.3% more zinc, 20.9% more copper and 14.7% more iron compared to the dal (dried) form of pigeonpea. The dal, however, has 19.2% more calcium and 10.8% more manganese.
Critical need for diet diversity
Fewer crop species are feeding the world today than 50 years ago, with a stark decline in millets and other traditional crops. This globalized, non-diversified diet of energy-dense crops can fuel a rise in diabetes and heart disease. Millets are part of the answer to reverse this trend.
High fiber content
Whole pulses have more fiber content than refined, processed pulse products and are better than fiber supplements.
Half a cup* of pulses per day provides 7-17 g fiber, accounting for 18-45% of recommended daily fiber intake in men and 28-68% in women. (Based on data from United States Department of Agriculture, National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28)
(*1 cup = 448 g)
Benefits of fiber:
- Helps lower ‘bad’ cholesterol
- Aids weight loss (more filling with fewer calories)
- Helps to maintain bowel health and lower risk of colon diseases
- Lowers risk of heart disease (by reducing blood pressure and heart inflammation), stroke, hypertension, diabetes (by slowing down sugar digestion, absorption and improving blood sugar levels) and gastrointestinal diseases.
Smart Food crops are highly nutritious, being high in protein, vitamins and minerals. Millets are gluten free and easily digestible. Legumes are affordable protein sources. Proteins help build and repair muscles and tissues. Escalating levels of diabetes can be prevented or managed by including low glycemic index foods such as sorghum and millets in the diet. They are also high in antioxidants which help to lower risks or fight against chronic diseases such as heart diseases, diabetes,and some forms of cancer.
Good for the Planet
Smart Food crops are most resilient and best survive the harsh environments present in the drylands. Hence, they are climate-smart crops.
In times of drought, millets are practically the last crop standing. Millets, sorghum and legumes have close to the lowest water and carbon footprints of all crops.
The climate resilience of these crops means that they are a good risk-management strategy for farmers. Legumes have an important role to play in soil nutrition and, when rotated with other crops, even increase the water-use efficiency of the entire crop rotation. Their multiple uses and untapped demand means that they have a lot more potential. Plus, unlike other crops they have not yet reached a yield plateau and have great potential for productivity increases.