Millet-based diet can lower risk of type 2 diabetes and help manage blood glucose level: Study

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Article by Ashish Pandey; Originally published in


A new study led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has found that having a millet-based diet can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes as well as help to manage blood glucose levels in people who have diabetes.

The study notes the potential to design appropriate meals with millets for diabetic and pre-diabetic people as well as non-diabetic people as a preventive measure. This study is the first in a series that researchers have been working on for the last four years as part of the Smart Food initiative led by ICRISAT. The studies will be released one by one in 2021.


Published in ‘Frontiers in Nutrition’, the study says that diabetic people who consumed millets as part of their daily diet saw their blood glucose levels drop 12-15 per cent (fasting and post-meal). Their blood glucose levels went from diabetic to pre-diabetic levels.

The HbA1c (blood glucose bound to hemoglobin) levels lowered by 17 per cent on average for pre-diabetic individuals, taking the levels from pre-diabetic to normal status.


The study found that millets have a low average glycemic index (GI) of 52.7, which is about 30 per cent lower than what it is for milled rice and refined wheat. The glycemic index of millets is about 14-37 points lower than what it is for maize.

All 11 types of millets studied either had low (less than 55) or medium GIs (55-69). Glycemic index is an indicator of how much and how soon a food item increases the blood sugar level.

‘’The review concluded that even after boiling, baking and steaming (most common ways of cooking grains), millets had lower GI than rice, wheat and maize,’’ said Dr Raj Bhandari, one of the study’s authors and a representative on the Indian National Technical Board of Nutrition. He stressed that diet plays a critical role in controlling diabetes.

Dr S Anitha, the study’s lead author and a senior nutrition scientist at ICRISAT, said, “A review of the studies published in scientific journals proves that millets keep blood glucose levels in check, thereby reducing the risk of diabetes.”

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Posted on

August 4, 2021

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