What is Millet: Benefits, Types and Nutrition


Millet is a highly varied group of small-seeded grasses, widely grown around the world as cereal crops or grains for fodder and human food. Most species generally referred to as millets belong to the tribe Paniceae.

Millets are important crops in the semiarid tropics of Asia and Africa, with 97% of millet production in developing countries. They are favored due to their productivity and short growing season under dry, high-temperature conditions.

The term millet is sometimes understood to comprise the widely-cultivated sorghum. Apart from that, pearl millet is the most commonly cultivated of the millets. Finger millet, proso millet, and foxtail millet are also important crop species.

Millets are small-grained, annual, warm-weather cereals belonging to the grass family. They are highly tolerant of drought and other extreme weather conditions and have a similar nutrient content to other major cereals.

Millets are major food sources in arid and semiarid regions of the world, and feature in the traditional cuisine of many others. They are rich in niacin, beta-carotene, fiber, protein, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and antioxidants. Millets provide various health benefits, such as controlling blood sugar, improving digestive health, protecting heart health, promoting anti-aging, and building healthy cells.

Health Benefits of Millet

Millet offers numerous health benefits

  1. Rich in antioxidants– Millet contains antioxidants like quercetin, curcumin, and ellagic acid that protect against oxidative stress and diseases.
  2. Helps control blood sugar– Millet has a low glycemic index, meaning it takes longer to digest and does not cause spikes in blood sugar levels, making it suitable for diabetics.
  3. Improves digestion– Millet is high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, which promotes healthy digestion, prevents constipation, and reduces digestive issues.
  4. May aid weight loss– The fiber and protein in millet promote satiety, prevent overeating, and help build lean muscle mass, assisting with weight management.
  5. Lowers heart disease risk– Millet’s fiber and potassium content may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, while its protein may increase adiponectin levels to reduce inflammation and protect heart health.
  6. Gluten-free– As a gluten-free grain, millet is suitable for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
  7. Enhances mood– Millet contains tryptophan, which boosts serotonin levels and improves mood, sleep, and appetite.
  8. Contributes to digestive health– The fiber in millet acts as a prebiotic, nourishing beneficial gut bacteria and strengthening immunity.
  9. Supports heart health– Magnesium in millet helps lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, and protect against heart failure.
  10. Promotes anti-aging– Millet’s antioxidants protect cells from damage and diseases associated with aging.

Millet Nutrition

The nutritional profile of millet includes various essential nutrients that contribute to its health benefits. Here is a summary of the key nutritional information about millet:

  • Calories:207
  • Protein:1 grams
  • Fiber:3 grams
  • Fat:7 grams
  • Carbohydrates:2 grams
  • Calcium:2 mg
  • Iron:1 mg
  • Niacin:31 mg
  • Magnesium:6 mg
  • Phosphorus:174 mg
  • Potassium:108 mg

Millet is a small grain that is rich in calcium, iron, phosphorus, and other vitamins and minerals essential for bone health, nerve function, and muscle contractions. Additionally, millet provides more essential amino acids than most other cereals, making it a valuable source of protein. Finger millet, in particular, stands out for its high calcium content, offering 13% of the Daily Value per cooked cup, making it a great choice for bone health.Overall, millet is a nutrient-dense grain that offers a range of health benefits due to its rich nutritional composition, including protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Types of millet

The different types of millets include:

  1. Foxtail Millet (Kakum / Kangni)
  2. Proso Millet (Chena / Barri)
  3. Sorghum Millet (Jowar)
  4. Finger Millet (Ragi)
  5. Pearl Millet (Bajra)
  6. Browntop Millet (Korle)
  7. Barnyard Millet (Sanwa)
  8. Little Millet (Moraiyo)
  9. Buckwheat Millet (Kuttu)
  10. Kodo Millet

These millets are small-seeded grasses cultivated worldwide, known for their nutritional value and health benefits such as being gluten-free, rich in fiber, protein, minerals, and antioxidants. Each type of millet offers unique traits and benefits, making them popular choices in various cuisines and diets.

What are the health benefits of each type of Millet?

Each type of millet offers unique health benefits. Here’s a summary of the benefits associated with each type:

1. Ragi (Finger Millet)

  • Good for brain development and fights anemia
  • Rich in calcium, protein, and amino acids
  • A good substitute for rice, easily cooked into porridge
  • Rich in iron, making it a necessary part of a child’s diet for brain development

2. Jowar (Sorghum)

  • Helps control obesity
  • Enriched with the goodness of iron, protein, and fiber
  • Can help in reducing cholesterol levels due to the presence of policosanols
  • Good for people with wheat intolerance

3. Kangni/Korra (Foxtail Millet)

  • Has healthy blood sugar balancing carbohydrates
  • Popularly available in the form of semolina and rice flour
  • The presence of iron and calcium in this millet helps in strengthening immunity

4. Bajra (Pearl Millet)

  • Known for its umpteen health benefits
  • Packed with the goodness of iron, protein, fiber, and minerals such as calcium and magnesium
  • Daily consumption or inclusion of this millet can work wonders

5. Sanwa (Barnyard Millet)

  • Nutrient-dense millet with high fiber content, which can effectively help in losing weight
  • Rich source of calcium and phosphorus, which helps in bone building
  • Daily consumption helps in fighting bone diseases

6. Chena (Proso/Broomcorn Millet)

  • Can effectively help in balancing blood sugar levels
  • Low glycemic index makes it a fad among weight watchers
  • In India, it has been a commonly used bird feed

7. Moraiyo/Kutki/Shavan/Sama (Little Millet)

  • Packed with the goodness of B-vitamins, minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, and potassium
  • Provides essential nutrients, which further help in weight loss
  • High fiber content makes it a healthy replacement for rice

8. Rajgira/Ramdana/Chola (Amaranth)

  • Has a great protein content
  • Helps with hair loss and greying
  • Lowers cholesterol and risk of cardiovascular disease
  • High in calcium and full of antioxidants and minerals

9. Kuttu (Buckwheat)

  • Whole-grain buckwheat can be very helpful in weight loss
  • Diabetic-friendly

In general, millets are known for their gluten-free nature, high fiber and protein content, and richness in minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, iron, calcium, zinc, and potassium. They offer various health benefits, including contributing to digestive health, being great for people with gluten intolerance, supporting heart health, enhancing mood, and managing weight.

Abbas Jahangir

I am a researcher and writer with a background in food and nutritional science. I am the founder of Foodstrend.com, our reputable online platform offering scientifically-backed articles on health, food, nutrition, kitchen tips, recipes, diet, and fitness. With a commitment to providing accurate and reliable information, we strive to empower our readers to make informed decisions about their health and lifestyle choices. Join us on Foodstrend.com's journey toward a healthier and happier lifestyle.

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