When speaking of healthy cereals we usually mean oats, brown rice and whole wheat, whereas millet is vastly undervalued. Finger millet or red millet (ragi/nachni) is the healthiest cereal of all. It can be rightfully called an all-in-one meal package because it prevents most of our lifestyle diseases.
Finger millet suitable for all age groups
Due to the rich nutritional value of red millet, it has become a staple diet in some Indian states. Here are some of the reasons for its popularity:
Ragi is a natural relaxant and relieves stress. One meal a day of ragi in the form of porridge or pancakes will prevent many stress-related diseases like hypertension, anxiety and depression that require lifelong medication. It also works like a wonder drug for insomnia.
Being very rich in antioxidants finger millet is the key to everlasting beauty. External use of beauty creams, age-defying serums and facials do help to some extent. But beauty treatment works best when it is consumed orally. Daily intake of ragi will give you the requisite dose of antioxidants for glowing skin and healthy hair.
Weight loss and flat belly
Tryptophan, an amino acid in red millet helps us to lose weight. It takes a little longer to digest as compared to other cereals so you won’t get hunger pangs too soon. If you are on a weight loss program, switching to ragi will speed up the process. You can replace the cereal content of one of your meals with ragi for best results.
Red millet provides the necessary bulk. The excess fibre keeps the digestive system clean. This prevents chronic ailments like acidity, constipation, headaches, skin problems like acne, etc the root cause of which is improper digestion.
Prevention of cholesterol and plaque
Other amino acids in red millet reduce fat accumulation in the liver. Calcium or plaque accumulation thickens the walls of the blood vessels and free flow of blood is obstructed. This in turn can can lead to coronary failure or stroke. Ragi prevents calcification in blood vessels. With free flow of blood all the organs stay properly nourished and working in perfect condition; thus improving quality of life.
Healthy bones and joints
Ragi is the first dietary recommendation of doctors for those suffering from osteoarthritis or osteoporosis. It is the only cereal that has calcium as well as vitamin D3 which is necessary for absorption of calcium. Fractures are known to heal faster when one eats millet. If you have suffered from fractures or other bone problems in the past, you can introduce millet in your daily diet now. Over time the bones will strength and will cause less discomfort.
Balanced blood sugar levels
Since millet digests slowly the release of glucose in the blood stream is gradual. In other words millet has a low glycemic response and eating it will prevent diabetes. If you are already a confirmed diabetic never fear! Introduction of ragi in your diet will definitely keep your blood sugar levels well within range.
Prevention of anemia
When a cereal is abundant in iron as well as vitamin C which is needed to absorb the iron, what more can one ask for? There are other foods which are rich in iron, but sometimes it doesn’t get absorbed properly in our system. The iron content in ragi is in an easily absorbable form and prevents anemia in most cases.
Growth and repair of damaged tissue
Proteins are very essential for our growth and to repair any damaged tissue. Ragi contains plenty of proteins, and that too in the easily-digestible form. In adults it helps to heal wounds quickly. When you have one meal of finger millet per day, even old scars fade away with time. In children, millet promotes growth and muscle mass.
Too much of a good thing is also bad! There is no need to go into overdrive and chuck all the other cereals for finger millet. I’ve been having oats for breakfast, finger millet for lunch and brown rice for dinner with the rest of my favourite dishes. That’s all that is needed to stay healthy and fit.