Take a look at the food habits at any location in India and there is something you cannot help noticing – rice or wheat are staples everywhere. In fact, these cereals are so prominent that they have almost overshadowed our ancient millets that were known for their nutritional, medicinal and healing properties. Fortunately, as the world continues to uncover the endless benefits of these grains, millets are now being enthusiastically cultivated and consumed.
Being gluten-free, exceptionally nutritious and non-acid forming, adding millets to the diet can be a surprisingly simple solution to manage various lifestyle diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, asthma and more. Right now, we will take a look at why millets are perfect for managing diabetes.
Why are millets good for diabetes control?
- Millets are low-glycemic index food – this means they raise your blood sugar slowly instead of a spike after taking food.
- They are high on fibre – keeping your sugar levels under control and keeping you satiated for longer.
- High on protein – increases the body's ability to use insulin to convert sugar to energy.
- They are whole grains - meaning your body takes longer to digest them. They don't raise your blood sugar like refined grains or flour.
- Millets help in reducing inflammation.
What millets work best to rein in diabetes?
While most millets are great options to include in diets for diabetes management, there are some with proven benefits in helping manage blood sugar levels. Here is a look at some of these:
- Foxtail millet (Thenai Rice) – the most popular millet among people with diabetes
This millet is a storehouse of proteins, fibre, vitamins, minerals and micronutrients. In short, a perfect choice to ensure proper nutrition while you are on the go. Including foxtail in the diet is highly beneficial in lowering cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Replacing rice with foxtail millet helps keep blood sugar levels from spiking thanks to its low glycemic index of 59.
- Finger millet (Ragi) – Versatile choice for ladoos, dosas, rotis and porridge
Packed with polyphenols that keep blood sugar levels in control, finger millets are a must-have for people with diabetes with a busy schedule. Add this fibre-rich millet to your diet to benefit from its low glycemic index that cuts down the rate of digestion and absorption of starch. This way, the sugar will be released very slowly into your bloodstream to ensure that your blood sugar readings stay within the normal range.
- Browntop millet – A superhero among millets
This millet goes above and beyond nutritious and can aptly be termed a nutraceutical. It is rich in magnesium, potassium, fibre, calcium, iron and a host of other minerals. Regular consumption of the millet helps prevent type 2 diabetes from aggravating. In addition to detoxifying the body and keeping blood pressure levels in check, the millet is also beneficial in reducing the risks of colon cancer, arthritis and gastric ulcers.
- Pearl millet (Bajra) – Nutritious, tasty and heart-healthy
The complex carbohydrates in pearl millets are slowly digested and absorbed by the body, making you feel full and helping to avoid overeating. This is a great property that serves you
well if you are keen on reducing weight. The slow digestibility factor also ensures that sugar is released very slowly to prevent glucose levels from surging.
By enhancing insulin sensitivity, pearl millets with a glycemic index of 54 wonderfully contribute to keeping diabetes in check. It is also rich in fibre content and therefore takes longer to digest. The high magnesium content in this millet reduces the risk of diabetes.
- Jowar millet – an excellent choice to manage diabetes and obesity
If rotis are an essential item in your menu, try switching from wheat rotis to ones made from jowar. Also known as sorghum, this millet has a glycemic index of 62, which is way lower than that of wheat, which stands at 72.
Jowar is a rich source of antioxidants, iron, protein, fibre and vitamin B that reduces the risk of inflammation and cellular level damage in people with diabetes. If you are battling both obesity and diabetes, jowar can aid your weight loss attempts as well.
- Kodo millet (Varagu) – Right choice for effective diabetes management
Traditionally consumed in various parts of India since ancient times for its medicinal properties, kodo millet has also been found to have powerful anti-diabetic properties. It is also highly recommended if you are trying to lose weight as part of managing diabetes. Kodo millet is renowned for its properties to accelerate the healing of wounds in people with diabetes. Studies have proven that this millet features five different anti-diabetic compounds that work together to maintain optimal blood sugar levels.
- Little millet (Samai Rice) – Little in name, high on nutrition
If you have diabetes and looking for viable replacements for rice in your diet, you must definitely try using little millet. The low carbohydrate content is a great plus since it makes you feel full without actually rocketing your blood sugar levels. The millet is also slowly digested to offer better glucose metabolism and absorption.
In addition to multiple anti-diabetic compounds, the dietary fibre in little millet features proven hypoglycemic properties to prevent blood sugar from touching dangerously high levels. You may also want to include this millet for its ability to detoxify the body.
How to add millets to your diet
Healthy need not mean boring and bland, especially when it comes to millets. You can experiment with interesting ways of including millets in your menu for diabetes management. While the earthy, nutty flavour of millets may seem heavenly to some, others prefer to mask this flavour with other ingredients. You can either pre-soak it overnight or lightly toast it before cooking it in water until the grains are cooked and fluffy.
Here are some ideas on how to infuse millets into your menu:
- Substitute a portion of rice or wheat with millets when you make idli, dosa or roti.
- Cook up healthy millet porridges with your choice of nuts and top it with fruits for a complete meal.
- Choose millets for your khichdi or pulao instead of rice.
- Put on your baker's hat and choose millets over white flour for your cakes, biscuits and bread.
- If rice is a part of your daily menu, try consuming a small portion of millet instead.
- Use millet-based stuffing instead of potatoes or paneer in your spring rolls or momos.
Getting diabetes in control with millets
The saying goes, 'you are what you eat'. Offer your body the best of nutrition, health and energy with the wide array of millets available online or at organic stores. Make sure you buy minimally processed varieties with the bran layer still intact. This is important since vital minerals, antioxidants, fibre and vitamins are present in the bran layer.
Although we have discussed the benefits of millets for diabetes, remember that these super-grains are also beneficial for non-diabetic individuals keen on switching to healthier food options.
With people gradually rediscovering food habits that kept their ancestors strong, healthy and disease-free, millets have become a staple in most diets. If you are looking for high-grade and nutritious millets, Shop now from an exciting range of the finest millets responsibly sourced from organic farms.