The glycemic index and load of millets: Can a person with diabetes eat millets?

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Millets are a group of grains belonging to the grass family Poaceae. People with diabetes can eat millets as part of a healthful, balanced diet.

Millets are an excellent source of fiber and contain a number of important nutrients.

This article outlines the nutritional content of millets and the different types of millets available. It also covers some research into the potential health benefits of millets for diabetes.

There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.

In people with type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce any insulin. In people with type 2 diabetes, the body either produces very little insulin or is less sensitive to its effects.

Diet plays an important role in the management of both types of diabetes.

People with diabetes can eat millets as part of a healthful, balanced diet. A registered dietitian or nutritionist can help a person develop a nutritious meal plan that incorporates millets.

What types of millets are there?
Millets are small-grained cereals belonging to the grass family Poaceae.

There are several different types of millets. Some of the most commercially available types include:

Pearl millet
Finger millet
Foxtail millet
Little millet
Sorghum, or great millet

How can millets benefit diabetes?


The findings of one 2018 study suggest that foxtail millet may help control blood glucose.

The study involved 64 participants with impaired glucose tolerance. Each participant ate 50 grams (g) of foxtail millet per day baked into bread. The participants ate the bread alongside their usual diet for a period of 12 weeks.

After 6 weeks, the participants’ fasting blood glucose levels decreased by 5.7%, on average. In addition, there was a 9.9% decrease in the participants’ mean 2-hour (h) glucose levels. This figure denotes a person’s blood glucose levels 2 hours after consuming glucose.

Fasting blood glucose levels and mean 2-h glucose levels remained low to the end of the 12-week study period.

The researchers suggest that the glucose-lowering effects of foxtail millet may be due to its ability to:

increase concentrations of the satiety hormone leptin
decrease insulin resistance
reduce inflammation
The researchers conclude that the consumption of foxtail millet may improve glucose control in people with type 2 diabetes. They also suggest that other whole grains could have similar effects.

Nutritional content
One cup of cooked millet contains the following key nutrients:

6.11 g of protein
1.74 g of fat
41.2 g of carbohydrate
2.26 g of fiber


Millets are also a good source of the following nutrients:

Copper
Manganese
Phosphorus
Magnesium

The glycemic index and load of millets

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly certain foods release glucose into the bloodstream. The GI scale begins at 0 and goes up to 100, with 100 representing pure glucose. Foods with lower GI scores cause a slower rise in blood glucose levels.

The glycemic load (GL) is a more accurate measure that takes into account how much glucose is available per serving of food.

Nutrition experts have differing views about the usefulness of these measures. Some experts believe that people should pay attention to both GI and GL scores. However, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommend monitoring the total carbohydrate content of foods.

A 10-year prospective study assessed diet and diabetes risk in 37,846 adults. The findings indicated that diets high in GI, GL, and starch and low in fiber were associated with an increased risk of diabetes.

Millets are an excellent source of dietary fiber, which can help slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream.

One 2015 study found that ready-to-cook little millet flakes had a medium GI of 52.11 and a low GL of 9.24. Due to the nutritional content of the flakes, the study authors suggest that they may be beneficial in the management of metabolic conditions.

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Posted on

May 18, 2020

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