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Local & historic: why you need to make millets a part of your diet

May 27, 2021 09:29 IST | By Vishakha Somani

Rice or wheat, both are common staples in nearly every Indian kitchen across the country. While we all eat and enjoy these grains, there is one group that has gotten side-lined from our diet in the last few years.

Millets are a type of grain dubbed ‘ancient grains’ as they have been grown and eaten in the Indian subcontinent for thousands of years. Some common examples are ragi, bajra, foxtail, jowar and amaranth. If you’ve ever wondered what was the most common food on the Indian plate a few decades ago, it was the humble millet!  

Although most of them are more seeds than grain, millets are rich in dietary fibre, protein and nutrients like iron, calcium, phosphorus as well as antioxidants. They are gluten-free, non-allergenic and are very easy to digest. They are also easier to cultivate and are thus, grown with little use of invasive chemicals. 

This is why millets have recently grabbed the attention of health-savvy youngsters and food brands. In fact, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) dedicated the entire month of May 2021 to raise awareness about the benefits of these nutri-cereals. 

Some of the millets discussed at length in the FSSAI and Eat Right India series include:

Ragi or Finger Millet boasts of anti-microbial properties and promotes bone health.  

Sanwa or Barnyard Millet is loaded with fibre. It offers anti-inflammatory and antioxidative benefits.  

Kuttu or Buckwheat Millet is great for weight-watchers and helps improve cardiovascular health.  

Eat Ramdana or Amaranth to lower blood cholesterol levels and stimulate your immune system.  

Known as Kangni or Kakum, the Foxtail Millet is good for cardiac health as well as skin and hair growth.  

With so many benefits, there’s no excuse for you to continue sleeping on these power-packed millets any longer! Fun fact, the government of India has even sponsored a UN resolution to declare 2023 as the International Year of Millets

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