The harvest festival, Pongal, is upon us and we decided to share a harvest crop that has gained popularity over the past few years amongst dieticians in India for its nutritional value.
Millets have long been the main source of income for farmers in India and are a low cost food option which contains a high nutritional value.Millets are a type of grain that contain high amounts of dietary fiber, B-complex vitamins, essential amino and fatty acids and vitamin E. They are also high in potassium, calcium and iron.
Millets are also helpful for diabetes patients as it is low on the glycemic index and is slowly digestible which prevents overeating.
In the South Asian diet which predominantly contains rice and wheat, millets add a healthy variety and the phytochemicals they contain lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases.
Here are some types of millets you can include in your everyday meals:
Pearl Millet ( Bajra)
Pearl millet or bajra is rich in calcium, iron and unsaturated fats and has a glycemic index of 58. Pearl millets can thus help people with diabetes as it raises your blood sugar very slowly and increases insulin sensitivity. It is also useful for heart problems and acidity.
Here is a healthy recipe for bajra roti which you can replace for regular wheat roti in your every day meals.
Sorghum or jowar contains minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, calcium and iron. These millets also contains enzymes that slow down the absorption of starch by the body – this helps people with diabetes to regulate insulin and glucose levels in the body.
Jowar can also help to prevent cancer and decrease anaemia in the body due to its elevated ability to absorb iron in the body.
Try these low fat, sugar free sorghum cookies as a healthier dessert option.
Finger Millets (Ragi)
Finger millet or ragi has a coat which is richer in polyphenols, a type of phytochemical, as compared to grains such as barley, rice, maize and wheat. Phytochemicals help to stabilise blood sugars in the body, maintain a healthy blood pressure and reduce inflammation amongst other things.
Ragi contains 40 times the phenolic content of rice and 5 times that of wheat. Studies have also shown that ragi controls blood glucose levels as well as accelerates wound healing among diabetics.
Try this ragi upma recipe for a healthy breakfast.
Foxtail Millets ( Kangni)
Foxtail millets or kangni are low in fat and high in proteins. Apart from that, kangni is also rich in fiber , calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium.
Foxtail millets, when consumed, releases glucose gradually without disturbing the sugar levels and the metabolism of the body. It is a great food option to keep diabetes under control.
Here is a yummy kangni khichdi (traditional South Asian rice, here replaced with kangni, and lentil dish) recipe for you to try out at lunchtime!