Read full article by Kavita Devgan@LivingFoodz Photo Credit: LivingFoodz
Millets were almost forgotten for the last few decades. They were considered poor cousins of the more popular wheat and rice. But that seems to be changing, and it is increasingly getting clearer that millets are definitely the grain of the future.
Thank god for that as millets are extremely versatile—are delicious as a salad or soup where they add crunch, and even make a perfect main course. Plus, they can be had for breakfast, lunch or dinner or even a snack. And yes, their nutritional benefits for people of all ages are immense, and so are the environmental paybacks; they help the environment and farmers, thereby creating a sustainable ecosystem. Consuming millets helps:
• To maintain steady iron and calcium levels and keep bones strong
• To keep our digestion strong as they are high in both soluble and insoluble fibre
• To reduce the gluten load in the diet as they are gluten-free (so a boon for those who are the gluten resistant).
• To lose weight, owing to the rich content of fibre and bioactive compounds in them
• To boost immunity, control blood sugar level and improve heart health
Traditionally, millets in India have always enjoyed prime importance as we are one of the largest producers of millets in the world. While they have been ignored over the decades, the market forces have recognised their potential only recently. One good example is Akshaya Patra who had been looking for ways to improve nutrition in mid-day meals. So, in a social experiment done with International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) they replaced rice in the mid-day meal (MDM) with small millets in a study carried out among 1,500 children in Karnataka. In the study group children’s meals that included idli, khichdi, upma and bisibelle bath, rice was replaced by pearl millet (bajra), ragi (finger millet) or little millet (kutki). These millet meals were not just exceptionally successful and liked by the children, they boosted their health substantially too. In fact, the anthropometric measurements (BMI and measurement of muscle, bone, fat composition in the body) showed that millet consumption helped boost the growth of children by nearly 50 per cent over three months. This study was released recently at the 4th Tasting India Symposium held in Delhi.