For hundreds of centuries, certain regions of the world have turned to millet as a large staple of their diets. In many parts of Asia and Africa, millet is one of the most important crops around because of its variety of uses. Over the years, there have been several different types of millet to be grown, though all of them have their benefits. The most common way we see millet used is in the food department, as it’s a grain that can be eaten like rice.
India is the country where millet is the most common, with 10 million tonnes being produced on a yearly basis. While it’s not as common here in the United States, there does seem to be a growing market for millet as it competes with similar grains such as wheat, rice and sweetcorn. To show you why millet is making a charge in popularity, we’ll show you the nutritional value and some of the great health benefits you get from eating more in your diet.
Nutrition of Millet
While millet isn’t going to be the lowest calorie food that you’ll find at the market, it still won’t do too much damage at 119 calories per 100 gram serving (about 3.5 ounces). That same serving gives you nearly 10 percent of your daily protein recommendation and five percent of your needed dietary fiber. In terms of vitamins, millet is a significant source of several between the five and 10 percent daily recommendation, including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 and folate.
There are also several significant minerals in millet, with more than 10 percent of the daily recommended amount of magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Others that are under the 10 percent mark, but still in significant amounts, include iron, potassium, zinc and copper. You won’t find any cholesterol in millet, and each serving just just one gram of fat (and only 0.2 grams of that is saturated fat).
Good For the Heart
Concentrating on your heart health is essential if you want to live a long and happy life. Eating foods that help to balance your cholesterol is one of the ways you can ensure better heart health, and millet is a great addition to your diet. Millet contains a fair amount of fiber in each serving, which has been shown to help balance out cholesterol by lowering LDL (bad) and increasing HDL (good) levels.
Fiber isn’t the only thing helping your heart as millet contains several key minerals such as magnesium and potassium. Potassium can help you balance blood pressure by removing excess sodium and soothing the blood vessels to make them more efficient. Magnesium is also found to balance blood pressure and reduce your chances of heart disease, heart attack or stroke by lowering the triglycerides in your blood.
The first thing that you’ll notice when looking at the digestive benefits of millet is the fact that it doesn’t contain gluten. That alone will prevent many from experiencing digestive issues such as cramps, bloating, constipation and more. Those with Celiac disease are the biggest benefactors as these symptoms are all very common when you eat gluten. Fiber also plays a huge part in your digestive system, and you’ll get a fair amount in millet.
When you add more fiber to your diet, your body will get more probiotics that detoxify your digestive system that includes getting rid of harmful bacteria. With your digestive system working more efficiently, you’ll see other benefits that include feeling more full throughout the day and a boost in your metabolism. For these reasons, millet is also an effective weight loss tool to have around.
Managing your blood sugar is the only surefire way to make sure that you don’t get diabetes. For those that already have diabetes, natural remedies such as eating the right foods can make managing diabetes much easier. Millet is one of those foods that’s low on the glycemic index, meaning that it’s easily digestible without changing your blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that those who eat millet reduce their fasting glucose levels by more than 30 percent and insulin resistance by more than 40 percent.
Overall, millet has a way of lowering your overall blood sugar, so that’s something to watch out for if you have naturally low blood sugar. Fiber plays a big role in balancing these numbers, and is the first thing that’s suggested for diabetics. While it won’t satisfy your sweet tooth, millet with all of its fiber will make sure that you’re able to eat sweets every once in awhile.
It seems that in the news these days, we’re told that just about everything under the sun (and even the sun itself) can cause cancer. Eating a healthy diet can help you prevent these outside sources from causing cancer, and millet is included in that diet. Millet is one of those foods that’s recommended because of its high fiber content, which has been directly linked to a reduction in chances of breast cancer.
Because of the benefits it has for your digestive system, millet is also helpful in preventing colon cancer. As for the other forms of cancer, millet does contain a high amount of antioxidants. These will help your body fight off free radicals that can damage the cells and cause a spread of cancer, keeping you healthy for a long, long time.
Are you one of the millions of people that struggles to both fall asleep at night and stay asleep? Many forms of insomnia are related to stress, so it’s important to keep those hormones in check. One of the ways to reduce stress is by getting more tryptophan in your system. This chemical has been shown to not only reduce stress, but also help people get more restful sleep on a nightly basis. For those that can’t sleep because of breathing problems, millet has been shown to have a benefit for the respiratory system, especially in those with asthma. Some studies even showed that millet can reduce wheezing for asthmatic patients by more than 10 percent.
Summing it Up
One of the reasons that people have been turning to millet more often is because of its gluten free makeup. That might get you wondering if there are any drawbacks or side effects that can come with eating more millet. In some rare cases, people have reported that they’ve experienced a goiter (enlargement of the thyroid) when eating millet because it does contain goitrogens. This could lead to hypothyroidism, but it’s not expected to be common at all.
Another side effect that people have reported is an iodine deficiency, especially when not balancing other foods with millet. Most that have experienced side effects with millet were eating large quantities on a weekly basis instead of making it a small part of their diets. As long as you’re sticking to the recommended amount and maintaining a healthy overall diet, your chances of either of these side effects with millet is small. With that said, those looking for a gluten free option should give millet a try, because there are plenty of benefits to be had!