Read full article By Priyanka Marakini @ Healthifyme Photo Credit: Priyanka Marakini
More and more people around the world are waking up to the uses of millets and consuming a diet rich in them. Speak to any fitness enthusiast, and they will vouch for the miraculous benefits of eating millets. They boost your health and improve weight loss, besides being gluten-free.
Eating healthy can seem like a task with the easy availability of junk food all around us. However, consumption of junk food on a long-term basis, as we are all aware, is incredibly harmful to our health. A good way to get on the path to good health is to replace your unhealthy eating habits with healthier options. Millets are available in a variety of types, with each having its own health benefits. You can walk into a supermarket at any time of the year and still be able to find whole-grain millets in stock. Why? They are cultivated across seasons.
Consuming millets as part of your daily diet is not a new concept. In fact, the population of central and southern India would consume them almost regularly as a staple food until the Green Revolution made rice and wheat more accessible. They became sidelined as a staple food grain in India due to the government’s lack of recognition. The government proactively pushed rice and wheat in the subsidized public distribution system, disincentivizing farmers from cultivating millets.
However, ditching rice or wheat bread completely for millets would not be healthy for your body. Practice grain diversity in your diet for wholesome nutrition.
What are millets?
Millets are coarse grains that have been traditionally grown and eaten in the Indian subcontinent for the last 5000 years. They contain high nutritional value and are rich in proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fibers. Unlike other cereals, millets require little water and ground fertility. They have long enjoyed the tag of “poor man’s food grain” due to its sheer affordability. However, of late, it has come to the notice of fitness-centric youngsters who are learning the wellness potential of this humble food.
Millets are generally divided into two broad categories –
1. Naked grains
Naked grains refer to the three popular types which are devoid of the hard, indigestible husk that some millets have. Namely, Ragi, Jowar, and Bajra. These millets don’t require processing after harvest; they can simply be used after being cleaned. These are the major types that are largely cultivated and quite popular because of this ease of use.
2. Husked grains
Foxtail millets, Little millets, and Kodo millets belong to this second type. These types consist of an indigestible seed coat. The husk on them needs to be removed before they are fit for human consumption. Once done by hand, these soon fell out of favor since the processing of these grains was never mechanized the way it was done for rice and other types of cereals.
Millets contain a host of micronutrients such as iron, calcium, and phosphorus. Also, they take time to digest, which doesn’t cause the blood sugar spike associated with easily digestible food. Introducing millets into your diet can help you control diabetes for the same reason.
Millets are not only good for us but the environment too, as they are largely rain-fed crops and do not put pressure on our already diminishing water resources. Additionally, these grain crops do not attract pests and so, can grow perfectly well without the use of pesticides.