Millets are small-seeded annual grasses. There are various varieties of millets grown in India : bajra (pearl millet), jowar (sorghum), ragi (finger millet), jhangora (barnyard millet), kangni (foxtail millet), barri (proso millet), etc.
World is facing agrarian as well as nutritional challenges. Owing to low fertility, utilization of dry lands to produce sufficient quality grains is a big challenge. Millets as climate change compliant crops score highly over other grains like wheat and rice in terms of marginal growing conditions and high nutritional value. These nutri-cereals abode vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, phyto-chemicals and antioxidants that can help to eradicate the plethora of nutritional deficiency diseases. Millets cultivation can keep dry lands productive and ensure future food and nutritional security.
Millets are nutritionally similar or superior to major cereal grains. The additional benefits of the millets like gluten-free proteins, high fibre content, low glycemic index and richness in bioactive compounds made them a suitable health food.
The minerals and vitamins are known as micronutrients as they are required in very small quantities. Minerals play an important role in building of bones, clotting of blood, sending and receiving neuronal and hormonal signals, keeping the heart beat normal, production of cellular energy, transportation of oxygen, metabolism and synthesis of fats and proteins, multiple actions as co-enzymes, boosting immunity and helping nervous system work properly. The mineral content in millets ranges from 1.7 to 4.3 g/100 g, which is several folds higher than the staple cereals like wheat (1.5%) and rice (0.6%). Millets are also good source of β-carotene and B-vitamins especially riboflavin, niacin and folic acid. Millets phenols are reported to have antioxidant, anti-mutagenic, anti-oestrogenic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral effects and platelet aggregation inhibitory activity.
Lot of bakery items, flour, sweets, curries and beverages can be made out of millets. So, I recommend using millets in our day-to-day life and making a positive lifestyle change to build and to sustain health.