India is a land of abundant grains and grain varieties. While the predominant staples of the country are rice (predominantly in the South, West and East) and wheat (in the North and North West); over the past few decades, we have seen the re-emergence of grains and seed alternatives. Among these, millets have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity. Why is this so? Well for starters, they adapt themselves to the tropical climate of the country and also, the awareness about protein deficiencies, gluten-intolerance, Glycemic Index, and other health related reasons where millets play a pivotal role, is oncreasing many folds. . The honorable Prime Minister of India has declared 2023 as the Year of Millet.
Another reason for the popularity of millets, is to do with the evolution of what they can be used in. Thanks to extensive food science research, products are now being developed using little millets that are more in sync with the form and taste of the masses, making their acceptance easier. For instance, over the past few years, millet dosa mixes, millet upma mixes, millet vermicelli etc. have become popular. This is because the products themselves are more akin to products customers are already familiar with. Little millet (Panicum miliare) is one of the small millets commonly known as ‘kutki’ in Hindi, ‘samai’ in Tamil and ‘samalu’ in Telugu.
Nutritional properties of little millet: Little millet is a marvellous source of protein (10.13%), carbohydrates (65.55%), fat (3.89%), fiber (7.72%), iron (1.26 mg/100g), phosphorous (130 mg/100g), zinc (1.82 mg/100g), magnesium (91.41 mg/100g), niacin (1.29 mg/100g) and polyphenols making it a vital option for nutritional security.
Health benefits of little millet
Little millets can help regulate blood sugar
Millets are among those grains (including quinoa, amaranth and others) that are low on the glycemic index (GI). Low GI foods have 2 very important benefits. One, they do not suddenly spike one’s blood sugar. This makes little millet ideal for diabetics, who often have the issue of blood glucose spikes, with other grains especially rice and wheat after consumption (post-prandial). Second, little millet in particular gets digested much slower compared to rice and wheat. This means that a person feels satiated for a longer period of time, and a reduced likelihood of unhealthy snacking between meals.
They are fantastic for weight loss
Little millet is a boon for weight conscious individuals. They have fewer carbs when compared to rice. They take llonger to digest which means that unhealthy snacking (one of the leading causes of weight gain) is less of a problem leading to reduced calorie intakes. What’s more is that they are rather high in fibre, which helps regulate gut health and increases metabolism. Body Mass Index (BMI), a leading metric of obesity, is also reduced from the increased consumption of little millet.
Little millets with big heart benefits
Little Millet is rich in antioxidants like polyphenols, phenolic compounds, tannins, flavonoids which play an important role in promoting health by combating lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, These antioxidants play an important role in lowering LDL cholesterol (low density lipoprotein), that can cause blockages in the arteries, and increase the risk of cardiac failure and other heart problems.
Little millets with enormous cancer fighting potential
Millets are a powerhouse of phytochemicals () that are known to combat the development and proliferation of cancer cells. Recent emerging studies across the world have found that phytochemicals are especially effective against cancers of the colon, breast and liver. Little millets provide a significant amount of bioactive nutraceutical components such as phenols, carotenoids and tocopherols that play an important role in health, aging and metabolic disease. Henceforth they are considered as nutricereals.
Little millets a big boon for digestion
Little millet is rich in insoluble dietary fibre and resistant starch, which helps promote regular gut health. It also helps combat common gastric complaints like flatulence, bloating, constipation, irregular bowel movements. It also helps in the overall health of the body's internal organs.
Little millets have massive health benefits in helping maintain good health. Little wonder then that we at Prolicious, are huge fans of this wonder grain. Watch this space for more, we have a few huge surprises in store for you, featuring little millets!