In India, it would be nearly impossible for a household to go without millets in their daily meals. With their high nutritional value and amazing taste, millets have become a crucial part of Indian cuisine. But how many of us are aware of all the benefits we get from millets and their importance to be included in our meals? The below mentioned are some of the commonly used millets used in India;
- Pearl Millet or Bajra
- Finger Millet or Ragi
- Foxtail Millet or Kangni
The Finger Millet or commonly known as Ragi in the country is popularly used and widely cultivated in the country. The Ragi plays an important part in the diet for age groups ranging from infants or toddlers to middle or old age people. Let us get into the depths of how it is cultivated in the country and all the several ways it benefits us.
Origin Of Cultivation
Millets are small and round in shape and an indigenous crop whose nutrition profile is extremely high. Millets are known to have been largely cultivated and consumed in many parts of India and Africa. In India, although Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Kumaon regions of Uttarakhand are the bulk producers of 100% natural millets in the country, it is also popular in many other states of the country. Rajasthan, Karnataka, Orissa, Goa and Andhra Pradesh are some of the leading states that produce this kind of millet.
Finger millets or Ragi are grown across the country at different times according to when they have their cropping seasons. Most of these areas where it is cultivated need to be rainfed. In the case of cultivating ragi, excess irrigation should be avoided. The crops take about 120-135 days to mature, given the weather and other facilities. It is usually drought and pest resistant, making it an easy and important crop grown in different regions in the country.
Why Include Millets In Your Meals
Millets have always been popular for the multi-nutritional value that it has to offer us. But how much does it help increase value to our meals? Because of the varied nutritional value, it has to offer us, it also tackles a lot of health issues faced by people with regular consumption. Also known as the poor man's food grain because of its feasibility and easy availability, it is widely used by people of all backgrounds.
Some that are included in the amazing nutritional value this kind of millet has to offer us are explained. Dietary fibres, magnesium, protein, iron, vitamin B, calcium, potassium, zin, copper, selenium and phosphorus are just to name a few. Apart from that, millets are also a highly contained powerhouse of saponins, antioxidants, flavonoids, anthocyanins and lignans. All these nutrients are highly beneficial for your overall health.
Nutrition And Benefits From Consuming Ragi
We are now aware of the nutrition value of ragi, now let us look into what areas it affects us by consuming it;
Helps In Weight Loss:
- Ragi is one of the best options to include in your meal if you are someone struggling to manage your weight loss. Making it a part of your daily meals or just breakfast will do wonders as ragi is gluten-free. It also tremendously helps in lowering BMI levels. Ragi is also used as a substitute for rice to control the carb intake and instead consume something that covers all the required nutrients. Incorporating this millet in your meals will help reduce the accumulation of fat, improve the overall gut health and eventually manage your weight and bring it down.
- Fibre is an incredible source that helps with weight control. It also helps in controlling diabetes which can be interconnected. Not only does ragi prevent obesity, but it also improves digestion, provides energy and reduces the chance of chronic diseases.
- Ragi being gluten-free is one of the greatest properties that you can benefit from ragi because gluten is one of the main reasons for weight gain. If you are focussing on cutting down fat in the abdominal area, then ragi should definitely be incorporated into your meals. The greatest convenience of consuming ragi is that it might feel light while eating, but it is extremely filling for your gut. This is also one of the reasons why it is said to consume ragi based food for breakfast as it comprises all necessary nutrition.
Regulate Blood Glucose Levels:
- Millets are known to have a low glycemic index ranging from 54-68. As there are other nutrients like vitamins, minerals, amino acids and dietary fibres that help with regulating blood glucose levels. This is why diabetic or people prone to diabetes should include ragi in their diet as they help in stabilizing blood sugar levels. It also helps in promoting insulin sensitivity which can be further helpful for people suffering from diabetes.
Dietary Hug For The Heart:
- Frequent consumption of ragi also helps with keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol at bay. Ragi benefits also include preventing and even bringing down cholesterol and blood pressure levels preventing chances for heart diseases. In its raw form, ragi also helps in nullifying the plaque formation that may cause blockage of vessels. This is how ragi becomes your heart's best buddy as it takes away the scary risk of cardiac strokes, diseases and even hypertension. These are also the diseases that seem to be getting more common these days.
- They are also loaded with antioxidants like tannins, beta-glucans, flavonoids, policosanols etc, which helps in lowering cholesterol levels and keep the blood vessels healthy.
Maintains A Healthy Gut:
- Ragi is brimming with dietary fibres which not only help with weight loss but also enhance the functioning of your digestive system. If you consume ragi on a daily basis, for at least one meal, you can say goodbye to all gut-related health issues. Bloating, cramping, constipation can all be relieved as ragi can improve bowel functioning. With an enhanced bowel function, other vital organs like the liver and kidney will also stay healthy with their helpful properties.
A Natural Sleep Inducer:
- People struggling with depression, insomnia and anxiety are often told to include the finger millet in their meals as it has sleep-inducing properties. Not only does it help in getting your gut back on track, but also your sleep cycle on track. It is one of the most famous food grains that is known to naturally enhance cognitive health. The amino acid called tryptophan is what helps in relaxing an individual's health.
Some Side Effects To Look Out For
Ragi is incredible for its multiple nutritional values, therefore there really isn't any negative effects of consuming it, but just a few measures to keep in mind while consuming it;
- As mentioned before, ragi can be filling for the gut and can take time to digest, therefore it is best to consume it for breakfast. But if at all you want to have it for supper or dinner, make sure you consume it at least 3 hours before bedtime for proper digestion. Because it also helps with sleep-inducing, it can be consumed at night too.
- Ragi also contains goitrogenic compounds that could maybe worsen the condition for people suffering from thyroid-related issues. This again, need not be for everyone with thyroid, therefore, make sure you consult your doctor about adding ragi to your diet.
- People with kidney complications should also be a little careful with the amount of ragi consumption as ragi has high calcium content. To avoid urinary calculi or kidney stones in the body, it is best to consult your doctor to know if it's safe for you.
Some Food Items You Can Make From Ragi
Ragi is known to be extremely versatile, not only when it comes to its nutrition value but also from the way it is consumed. People choose to consume ragi in several different ways according to taste preferences and age. It also benefits animals as the straws collected from the finger millet can be fodder for the animals. Some of the food items that you can make with ragi that can be both healthy and extremely yummy are;
- Ragi porridge or malt (for both babies and adults) to have a light soupy meal. You can make it savoury or sweet according to your taste.
- If you want to satisfy your sweet tooth, you can always choose to make ragi ladoos, whose recipe is easily available and extremely easy to make too. This can also be a quick and healthy easy snack for kids. Another delicious sweet dish from ragi is ragi halwa, which again comes with an easy recipe.
- You can even choose to add ragi into dosas and idlis for breakfast, which is an easy way to incorporate ragi into your breakfast.
- For lunch and dinner, if you prefer to have roti, you can also include ragi into the dough which will not only make it extra healthy but also extremely tasty.
We have covered almost all essential factors that you need to know about ragi and its amazing benefits. A multitasking food grain that mainly helps with weight loss and improved cognitive health is a must-have addition to your daily meals. Not only does it help you maintain your body, but it also helps you fix your daily routine by inducing proper sleep. Start incorporating this wonder grain into your meals and you are sure to see great results just within a few months!