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All About Millets and Its Health Benefits

Medically reviewed by  Krupa,  A Postgraduate in Food Science & Nutrition

Millets are a group of small seed grasses grown in semi-dry areas of Asia and Africa. Millets have been widely cultivated as cereal crops or as fodder for animals.

Because millets have a short growing season, can withstand dry and high-temperature conditions yet yield well, they are popularly grown in the developing nations.

It is now a well-proven fact that consuming whole grains on a regular basis may help lose weight, owing to the rich content of fiber and bioactive compounds in them.

Learn more about other weight loss mistakes you might be making by following certain diet plans.

In the developed nations, millets have been relegated to be used as bird feed.

However,  in developing nations like India, are enjoying rising popularity due to a variety of health benefits of millets.

They are gluten-free grains and hence it can be consumed by everyone. We will elucidate on the types of millets.

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Types of Millet’s in India

Millets in India enjoy prime importance that is because India is one of the largest producers clocking 11 million tonnes every year followed by Africa and China.

So let us know a bit more about the types of millets grown in India and millet nutrition that will convince you to stock them. 

1. Sorghum (Jowar)

Sorghum or jowar is one of the most popular millets for weight loss
Sorghum or jowar is one of the most popular millets for weight loss

The very mention of millet and you would have picturized jowar or jowar rotis in your mind.

Well, it is one of the most popular, much-researched millet for weight loss.

Due to jowar roti benefits, many grandmas prefer it over regular wheat rotis. The calcium content in jowar is closely similar to the content in wheat and rice.

It also packs in a neat iron, protein, and fiber punch. Researches have found that a typical sorghum wax is rich in policosanols which helps in reducing the levels of cholesterol.[1]

Being a gluten-free grain, it is also much preferred by those who can’t tolerate wheat-based products. And also Millets solve nutrition-related problems, as a rich source of micronutrients. Are you aware of your health?

2. Foxtail millet

foxtail millet for weight loss
foxtail millet for weight loss

Foxtail millets are available in the form of rice, semolina (like rava) or as fine textured flour.

Like other millets, foxtail millet is rich in smart carbohydrates, the kind which doesn’t increase the blood sugar levels immediately but releases slowly release glucose into the bloodstream.

It is rich in dietary fiber, and minerals like iron and copper.

Due to this, it helps to reduce the levels of bad cholesterol and keeps the immune system strong as well.

Recommended Read: Healthy Lunchtime with Tomato Foxtail Millet

3. Finger millet (ragi)

finger millet for weight loss
finger millet for weight loss

One of the most popular and commonly consumed millet there could be. Due to ragi’s nutrition, it can be considered a good replacement for rice and wheat.  

The most notable nutritional feature is that it is a rich source of calcium and other minerals.[2]

It is a storehouse of protein and amino acids that make it a good inclusion in porridges and even wheat flour.

Studies have suggested a beneficial role of finger millet on blood glucose level and hence, its positive effect on diabetics patients. [3]

4. Pearl millet (Bajra)

pearl millet flour for weight loss
pearl millet flour for weight loss

The study has shown that Pearl millet or bajra is said to be a miracle millet with iron content which 8 times higher than that present in rice. [4]

Other facts about pearl millet nutrition are that it is also rich in protein, fibre, and minerals such as calcium and magnesium.

Consumption of pearl millet will help ease constipation issues and any problems with the digestion as well.

Because of the nutritional line-up, it can also make for a good lactagogue. Therefore, induces lactation and help in efficient milk secretion. [5]

So I hope all these bajra benefits will make it a staple in your kitchen.

5. Barnyard millet

Barnyard millet, with its nutritional profile, should belong to our tables already. It has a considerable amount of fiber that helps maintain satiety.

Apart from this, millet is rich sources of bone-building minerals calcium and phosphorus.

Its good antioxidant profile helps in improving the complications of non-communicable diseases and degenerative disorders like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, etc. [6]

Therefore, it can be considered as an ideal replacement for rice in dosa/idli/dhokla batters.

6. Kodo millet

If you are looking for a millet that closely resembles rice, then it is the Kodo millet.

It is easy to digest and is rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants, all of which helps prevent the occurrence of major lifestyle diseases.

For weight loss enthusiasts, this is the millet that will assist in healthy weight loss. Cook it like rice once in a while and relish without any guilt.

Kodo millet has shown to reduce knee and joint pain, helps regularize menstruation in women among others. This is attributed to high mineral content like calcium, magnesium and iron.

Recommended Read: Korra Rice Khichdi

7. Little Millet

little millet for weight loss
little millet for weight loss

The little millet may be called little but in no means its nutritional content is little. It is a rich source of B-vitamins, minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, potassium among others.

Little millet contains around 5.2 grams of fat with a good content of unsaturated fats that ensures healthy metabolism and subsequently, a healthy weight loss. [7]

Its high fibre content is yet another positive making it an ideal part of pongal or even kheer instead of rice.

8. Proso Millet

Proso millet for weight loss
Proso millet for weight loss

Like it’s millet cousins, proso millet is rich in protein and low glycemic index carbs.

The developed world cultivates this millet to use it as bird feed. It is yet to be consumed as a mainstream millet.

Also, because of the high content of antioxidants and minerals like magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, it helps in preventing conditions like osteoporosis.[8]

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Health Benefits of Millet Grain

Before you think that millets are just an alternative to regular cereal grains, we let you in on the health benefits of millets.

Similarly, millets for weight loss shouldn’t be the only thing you should be searching for!

1. Millets help to fight Type-2 Diabetes

As you must have seen, millets are all a rich source of magnesium, a mineral which is extremely important for starch digestion.

Magnesium makes many carbohydrate-digesting enzymes, even the ones which manage insulin’s action.

Researchers find that magnesium-rich whole grain consumption can help lower the risk of type-2 diabetes.

In addition to this, due to the presence of complex carbs, the glucose release in the bloodstream is also well-regulated.

So have a good morning with a bowl of millets cooked in milk for health. This is impressive millet nutrition.

2. Millet’s are as nutritious as Fruits and Vegetables

Millets are gluten free grains and also rich in antioxidants
Millets are gluten free grains and also rich in antioxidants

We aren’t pitting one food group against the other but this is what research has to say.

Scientists from Cornell University have found that millets are not any lesser than fruits or vegetables in their antioxidant activity.[9]

According to their research, most of the studies have explored the ‘free’ forms of antioxidants seen amply in fruits and vegetables.

But the difference is that these antioxidants in millets are in the bound form which needs to be released on fermentation by bacteria. Thus the health benefits of millets are at par with vegetables.

3. Millet’s fight Heart Diseases

Millets fight Heart Diseases
Millets fight Heart Diseases

One of the phytonutrients amply present in millets is lignans. Lignans are known to be prebiotic fiber which is fermented in our gut by bacteria.

As per the studies, upon fermentation, they yield enterolactone, a product which is known to protect against heart disease and also some forms of breast cancers. [10]

4. Millet’s help to prevent Gallstones

Have good digestive health with millets. Millets also help in weight loss
Have good digestive health with millets. Millets also help in weight loss

Studies have shown that consuming foods high in insoluble fiber has the ability to prevent the occurrence of gallstones.

According to a study by Canadian Society of Intestinal Research,  people eating both soluble and insoluble fiber reported 13% lower risk of undergoing gallbladder surgery. [11]

However, those who ate more of insoluble fiber reported a greater risk reduction of surgery for gallstones that is around 17%. So you can eat the millet grain to prevent gallstones in the future.

5. Millet’s role in childhood asthma

Studies have found that a combination of whole grains like millets and fish helps reduce the incidence of wheezing in children.[12]

The positive aspect is that millets are gluten-free grains too so it can be well tolerated by many.

A DIY diet is not something that you can sustain for a long period of time without seeing health-related repercussions

5 Tasty Millet Recipes

Millet recipes for weight loss
Millets can be used to make khichdi or pongal

Now that you have known the multiple benefits of including millets in the diet, we give you some great ways they can be a part of your food and yet loved.

1. Millet instead of rice

  • It’s really easy, millets get cooked just like rice.
  • All you have to do is pressure cook or pan cook 1 glass of millet with 3 cups of water.
  • When pan cooking you can observe the progress. Just when the water evaporates, take it off the flame and let it stay. It will cook some more in the remnant heat and fluff up, looking just like rice.
  • You can now eat this cooked millet with sambhar or rasam.
  • You can cook millets instead of rice once a week but make sure to check with a dietician if you have thyroid issues before consuming millets. 

2. Millets in khichdi or Pongal

Rice and dal make for a good combination in khichdi. So replacing rice with millets do not make a big difference in taste but a world of difference in the nutritional profile.

Take this bajra khichdi, jowar khichdi or foxtail millet khichdi for instance. You could use millets in sweet or salty pongal too. Simple yet salivating millet recipes can be made.

3. Millet for upma

Millets are available in different forms, even in the semolina version.

So you can use millets to replace traditional wheat rava and make upma. We even found ragi vermicelli and made a ragi vermicelli upma out of it.

4. Salads with millets

Don’t rub your eye in disbelief, we mean it. We made this bajra salad with lime seasoning and the result was finger-licking. Try it for yourself.

5. Millet’s incorporated in the wheat flour

So most of you will be comfortable with chapatis made of wheat flour.

We give that comfort to you but you can make it healthy by incorporating millet flour in wheat flour.

You can have your own combinations to make healthy rotis. Check with your dietician about the ideal millet to wheat flour ratio especially if you have thyroid troubles. 

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Millet Side Effects: Do Not Consume too many Millets

Millets for Thyroid
Millets are high in thyroid affecting goitrogens

Ok, so millets are not all painted in white as well. Millets are known to possess goitrogens, the anti-nutritional factor if you have thyroid problems.

Hence it would be advisable to include them in batters and not eat it every day like rice or wheat. Do check in with a dietician or a nutritionist before you go overboard on millets. 

If you are wondering what can be safely consumed and what to be avoided if you have thyroid issues, you can check our blog titled the thyroid diet food list.

Next Read:

Quick Bytes

1. Can celiac patients consume millets?

Yes. The millets do not contain gluten protein and therefore, safe for consumption in case of gluten sensitivity.

2. Is millet healthy for consumption by infants or aged people?

Millets are easy-to-digest with full of nutrients and therefore, fit for consumption by every age group.

3. Is millet safe for thyroid patients?

Millets should be avoided by people suffering from thyroid issues as it contains goitrogens that suppress thyroid activity causing goitre.

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37 Comments
  1. Raja says

    Can hirsutism patients takes millets everyday ???? And which millet I can use???

    1. Soma Raghavendra says

      Hi Raja! Yes, you can have any millets. Keep following our blog to know more health information.

  2. lata says

    thank you ..very informative

    1. Soma Raghavendra says

      Hi Lata! You are welcome and thank you for your feedback about our article. Keep following our blog to know more health information.

  3. lata fatafat says

    Thank you

    1. Soma Raghavendra says

      Hi Lata! You are welcome. Keep following our blog to know more health information.

  4. Sv ramanuja rao says

    Informative. Thanks.

    1. somaraghavendra says

      Hi Ramanuja! We’re glad that you liked our article about 5 millets health benefits & their role in weight-loss. Keep following our blog for more such articles.

  5. Satish says

    Hi Mehnaj
    I am type 2 diebetic from 5 years, which millets I can use to keep it in control

    1. shama says

      Hi, you can eat all millets as part of the balanced diet. Millets have many health benefits and add variety to the regular rice and wheat based meals. Millets are rich in micronutrients, fibre which all will help in controlling blood sugar levels.

  6. Aravindakshan.V says

    Hai,I it is a very good information. It will help very much for people suffering from life style disease.
    I wish to know about the availability and the business scope cereal .

    1. netravati says

      Thank you for your feedback. Keep following our blog for more such articles.

  7. Murali Gorantla says

    Can you please post calorie information so that we can compare and choose…

    1. netravati says
  8. varsha patel says

    Its very useful and interesting information for perfect and healthy diet.

    1. Mehnaz Farooque says

      Thanks for writing to us. Keep following our blog for more such articles. 🙂

  9. Jagadeesh says

    Hi,
    Consuming too many millet leads to Thyroid problems. Thanks for sharing this wonderful information. If a balanced millet are good for healthy lifestyle. These are rich in carbohydrates and minerals.
    I have tried Kodo millet it helps for knee and joint pain. This millet we can use as rice, in dosa and idli.

  10. Prema says

    Hi, my baby has whizzing, so can I give pearl millet while feeding.

    1. shama says

      HI , when baby is whzzeing please consult a physician. For diet give soft cooked foods like idli, khchdi etc.

  11. Mamatha R says

    Which millets are good to consume while feeding?

    1. mehnaz says

      Hi Mamatha,

      Thank you for writing to us. You can include any of these millets as part of any one of the meals in a day. 🙂

  12. Pranitha says

    Which millet is used for making course mattresses and saddles? “can I get the answer from any one??

    1. mehnaz says

      Hi Pranitha,

      This is a health and nutrition related blog, so we won’t go outside the topic. However, in reply to your answer, buckwheat is known to be popular for making mattresses and saddles.

  13. Gumparti Somanath says

    I am aged 63years male,wt 82 kgs suffering from severe knee pains,sugar and bp. Please suggest best weight loss food, since I cannot do any exercises due to know pains since five years. I am a vegetarian. Please suggest best cereal to take daily food for weight lost. Thanking you

    1. mehnaz says

      Hi Gumparti,
      You can avail the Truweight program which will help you in losing weight and managing your clinical conditions. The nutrient dense super foods of Truweight are rich in protein and fibre and can boost your metabolism and help in weight reduction. For more information, please call us at 08064514959. Our representative will get in touch with you and explain everything.

  14. Manasa Ravi says

    Hello mehnaz ji.. I have read saying consuming millets on daily basis gains weight as it contains carbohydrates in less percent.. Is this true.. I badly want to lose weight.. I am using Foxtail millet and little millet alternately along with regular exercise.. Does this works.. Hoping for a reply from you

    1. mehnaz says

      Hi Manasa,
      Your BMI is not mentioned here. Weight loss will be based on factors like your age, physical activity, metabolic rate etc. In Truweight we believe that 80 % diet and 20 % physical activity leads to a healthy weight loss. Eating millets alone will not help in weight loss. The nutrient dense super foods in Truweight which are rich in protein and fibre can boost your metabolism and helps in weight reduction. You can understand more by reading this article https://truweight.in/blog/weight-loss/6-indian-recipe-diet-problems-solving-superfoods.html . For more information, please call us at 08064514959. Our representative will get in touch with you and explain everything.

  15. Dr.Luis drayson says

    Foxtail Millets avoid human death and ageing gives human tissues a energy that makes human and animals body younger. Before rice millets are main food to human but by these days human using modified biotech rice…millets are found before 20000 years

    1. mehnaz says

      Hi,

      Thank you for your information. Do keep following our blogs and do keep writing to us. 🙂

  16. Narayan R says

    The Kodo millet are off red in colour. Here is a better photo : https://kaulige.com/products/kodo-millet-rice?variant=7521045123 . Better photos would help readers identify millets better.

    1. mehnaz says

      Hi Narayan,

      Thank you for your feedback. We’ll definitely incorporate your advice. Keep following our blogs.

  17. lakshmi says

    Hi my name is lakshmi I have thyroid problem since 5yrs I am using homeo medicines since two years can I include millets in my regular diet

    1. mehnaz says

      Hi Lakshmi,
      Yes, you can eat millets as part of the balanced diet. Millets have many health benefits and add to the diversity of the meals. Make sure to eat enough iodine rich foods and use iodized salt while cooking. Millets can add to the thyroid problem only in individuals with iodine deficiency. As mentioned, goitrogens in millets are deactivated when cooked or processed. Have them in moderation as part of a balanced meal.

      1. Mau says

        Hi,
        My daughter is anaemic and has gastrointestinal problem. Which millet will be best suited for her. She is also lactose intolerant

        1. mehnaz says

          Hi,

          We believe your daughter is suffering from a gastrointestinal problem as she is having lactose intolerance and anaemia since absorption of nutrients from the small intestine is low. You can give her millets like buckwheat, pearl millet or bajra and quinoa. Also adding curd, yoghurt, dates, etc will help. Consult a paediatrician and check whether she needs any medication for the same. 🙂

          1. mahnaz says

            hi mahnaz
            which colour millet is the best?

          2. Soma Raghavendra says

            Hi Mehnaz! Any millet consumed in the right quantity will be healthy. Keep following our blog to know more health information.