The USDA states that millet is a cereal grain that belongs to the family Poaceae, better known as the grass family. Originally, Nithiyananthamet al. (2019) that millet is largely eaten in developing countries throughout Africa and Asia. Although it is similar to a seed, the nutritional content of millet is similar to that of sorghum and other grains. Another study by Muthamilarasanet al. (2015) also notes that millet has developed in popularity in the West because it is high in protein, fiber, and antioxidants.
Ugar et al (2015) also found millet to be a low glycemic index diet. Their study found that de-husked (50.0) and heat-treated (41.7) millet was beneficial for type 2 diabetics. It is also an alkaline food, which means it can be easily digested, and is a good choice for those with sensitive stomachs.
Sarita, E (2016) study found that in relation to most grains, millet is a starchy grain – meaning that it is rich in carbohydrates. In addition, millet contains many vitamins and minerals.
According to the USDA, one cup (174 grams) of cooked millet contains:
Carbs: 41 grams
Fiber: 2.2 grams
Protein: 6 grams
Fat: 1.7 grams
Phosphorous: 25% of the Daily Value (DV)
Magnesium: 19% of the Daily Value
Folate: 8% of the daily value
Iron: 6% of the Daily Value
Also, three studies (Singh, 2,016; Dias Martinst al.2018; Wu, 2009) found that millet gives more essential amino acids than other grains which are the building blocks of protein.
Another interesting thing is that finger millet can boast a grain with abundant calcium content giving the body 13% of the daily value per cooked cup (100 grams) (Singh, 2016; Devi et al 2014; Chopana et al 2013). As you know, the human body needs calcium for good bone health, blood vessel and muscle contractions, and proper nerve function.
Millet and science
Loaded with antioxidants
Six studies (Devi et al. 2016; Kumari et al. 2017; Pizino et al. 2017; Xiang et al. 2019; Chandrasekara and Shahidi, 2010) have confirmed that millet is full of phenolic compounds, specifically ferulic acid and antioxidants. They act as antioxidants to protect the body from harmful oxidative stress.
Other studies in mice (Zduńska et al. 2017 Liu et al. 2017) link ferulic acid to faster wound healing, skin protection, and anti-inflammatory properties. These catechins have been shown to bind with heavy metals and avoid bloodstream toxicity (Chandrasekara and Shahidi, 2010; Bernatoniene and Kopustinskiene, 2018).
Kumariet al. explained. (2017) found that although all millet types are loaded with antioxidants, specific darker varieties such as brusso and fox millet outperform those with their white or yellow counterparts.
Controlling blood sugar levels
Two studies (Devi et al. 2016; Kam et al. 2016) found that millet is full of fiber and non-starchy sugars, two non-digestible carbohydrates that are likely to control blood sugar levels.
Notably, two studies for example (Dias-Martins et al. 2018; Narayananet al. 2016) found that millet is able to control blood sugar due to its low glycemic index (GI), which means that when eaten on a diet of millet. No need to worry about high blood sugar. Thus, diabetics can eat millet grains once the other ingredients combined are diabetic friendly.
This was demonstrated in a one-person study by Narayananet al. (2016) involved 105 people with type 2 diabetes. Researchers found that using a millet-based diet to replace a rice-based breakfast reduced post-meal blood sugar levels.
Another human study in 64 people for 12 weeks with prediabetes reported the same results. After eating 1/3 cup (50 grams) of foxglove millet daily, participants’ blood sugar decreased in both fasting and randomized blood sugar levels, and insulin resistance decreased.
Brown et al (2016) demonstrated that insulin resistance is a marker of type 2 diabetes. This usually occurs when you decide to undergo the hormone insulin, which regulates blood sugar, and finally, a 6-week study in diabetic mice found that when given to animals, A diet containing 20% finger millet. It lowered fasting blood sugar and lowered triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
People with diabetes also need to be aware of the glycemic index (GI) and know the GI value of the foods they eat. The glycemic index ranks carbohydrates by how quickly blood sugar levels increase. Foods with a low GI value are digested slowly and raise blood sugar at a slower rate.
On the other hand, foods with a higher GI value digest faster and thus can raise your blood sugar quickly. The GI scale ranges from 0 to 100. One of the benefits of millet is that many types have a low to medium GI value, so you can eat it more often without affecting your blood sugar significantly.
A study by Patilet al. (2015) found, though, that the GI value of millet varies by species. For this reason, some types of millet are better than others if you have diabetes. The glycemic index value of millet, small tail, finger and pearl millet ranges from 54 to 68. It is eaten as often as the others.
It is also important to know where other whole grains fall on the GI scale as you are likely to include these foods in your diet as well. Whole grains with a low glycemic index (55 or less) include:
All bran grains
Whole grain tortilla
Whole grains with a medium glycemic index (56 to 69) include:
flax seed bread
Whole wheat bread or white pita bread
Whole grains with a high glycemic index (70 or more) include:
instant white rice
White or whole wheat bread
A study by Devi et al. (2016) that millet is full of soluble fiber, which in turn produces a sticky substance in the gut. This helps bind lipids and lower cholesterol levels, and this was confirmed in one of the rat studies conducted by Lee et al. (2010) which states that rats fed foxtail and broso-mglyceride levels significantly decreased along with the control group. .
Also, millet protein can lower cholesterol. This was also demonstrated in a study in mice by Nishizawa et al. (2009) with type 2 diabetes. Mice were fed a high-fat diet with millet protein concentrate. Their results found a reduction in triglyceride levels and a drastic improvement in HDL (“good”) cholesterol and adiponectin, along with the control group.
Two studies (Lihn et al. 2005; Fang et al. 2018) found that the anti-inflammatory hormone adiponectin helps heart health and stimulates fatty acid oxidation. Levels are usually lower in people with obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Millet, gluten-free diet
Three studies (Dias-Martinset al. 2018; Devi et al. 2014; Niro et al. 2019) have confirmed that millet is a gluten-free grain and is therefore a good choice for those with celiac disease or those who follow gluten. Free diet.
Gurja et al. (2012) found that gluten is a protein naturally found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. However, those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity should steer clear of it as it causes adverse digestive symptoms, such as diarrhea and malabsorption of nutrients. Hence, it is recommended when buying millet to read the product label and look for certified gluten-free ones.
One study by Boncompagniet al. (2018) that millet contains antinutrients – compounds that prevent or reduce the body’s absorption of other nutrients and may lead to deficiency. Phytic acid is one such compound that interferes with the absorption of potassium, calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium. Although, once your diet is balanced, there is no problem. The nitrogenous polyphenols are another compound that is likely to harm thyroid function, causing goiter — the enlargement of the thyroid gland that leads to a swollen neck.
However, this effect is only related to the excessive intake of polyphenols. Two studies (Boncompagni et al. 2018; Gonçalves et al. 2017) for example found that goiters were found when millet provided 74% of a person’s daily calories, compared to just 37% of daily calories. This concern can be addressed by soaking it overnight at room temperature, then drying and rinsing it before cooking (Singh, 2016). In addition, the plant reduces the anti-nutrient content.
Professor Narkoti has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and medical societies to justify his writings. My articles are for educational purposes and are not to be used as medical advice for treatment. I aim to educate the public about evidence-based natural remedies.
By Professor Rafael Nicoti Obo
The author is Professor of Healthcare Physiotherapy and Chair of the Narcote College of Holistic Medicine and Technology (NUCHMT)/African Foundation for Physiotherapy.
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