Read full article By Ashish Pandey @ India Today Photo Credit: Representative Image
According to a new study led by Hyderabad’s International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), the consumption of millets (whole grain/bajra) can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
The consumption of millets can reduce total cholesterol, triacylglycerols (commonly known as triglycerides) and Body Mass Index (BMI), a new study has found.
The study analysed the data of 19 studies with nearly 900 people as participants.
Undertaken by five organisations and led by Hyderabad’s International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), the study showed that consuming millets reduced total cholesterol by 8 per cent, lowering it from high to normal levels in the participants.
There was nearly a 10 per cent decrease in low and very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (commonly viewed as ‘bad cholesterol’) and triacylglycerol levels in the blood.
‘’Through these reductions, the levels went from above normal to the normal range. In addition, consuming millets decreased blood pressure with the diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number in the BP reading) decreasing by 5 per cent,’’ said Dr. S Anitha, the study’s lead author and Senior Nutritionist at ICRISAT.
She further explained that the study also showed that consuming millets reduced BMI by 7 per cent in people who were overweight and obese, showing the possibility of returning to a normal BMI.
“The results of this study along with our recent study that showed that the consumption of millets reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and helped manage type 2 diabetes, highlights a critical need to look carefully at how to most appropriately bring millets back into the diets in India and ensure this reaches the majority.” Said Dr. Hemalatha, Director, National Institute of Nutrition (NIN).
Doctor and co-author, Raj Kumar Bhandari, noted that based on the evidence in this study, doctors can help reduce hypertension and hardening and narrowing of arteries and manage weight with appropriate diet changes including millets.
“However, it is important to consume a millet-based and healthy diet regularly and make it a habit,” he said.
All results are based on consumption of 50 to 200 g of millets per day for a duration ranging from 21 days to four months.
This new information on the health benefits of millets further supports the need to invest more in the grain, including its whole value chain from better varieties for farmers through to agribusiness developments.