What is millet?
Millet seeds resemble wheat semolina and are grown in Africa and Asia. India leads as the largest millet producer globally. Millet has been a staple for people and animal feed for ages.
In developed nations, millet is getting attention for being gluten-free and gentle on sensitive stomachs.
Let’s explore this tiny powerhouse that serves as a great substitute for rice and pasta, offering incredible benefits.
Millet falls under the category of cereals. Similar to rice, it’s a starchy food high in carbohydrates. A 100g serving of millet contains 378 calories, while white rice offers around 150 calories for the same amount.
Here’s a breakdown of millet’s nutritional content per 100g:
– Protein: 11g
– Carbohydrates: 73g
– Fat: 4.2g
– Fiber: 8g
Millet boasts significant phosphorus (28% of recommended daily intake) and magnesium (28% of the RDA). It’s also notably rich in calcium, making it the most concentrated seed among all cereals. Additionally, it serves as a valuable protein source for athletes.
The Benefits of Millet
1. Sans gluten
Millet serves as an excellent substitute for wheat, barley, or rye-based foods due to its gluten-free nature. Celiac disease, a chronic intestinal condition triggered by gluten consumption, can make it challenging for individuals. Gluten is present in many foods, including pasta, semolina, bread, pizza dough, and breakfast cereals. This makes it tough for those with the condition to diversify their carbohydrate sources.
Millet, along with quinoa and rice, introduces dietary variety for individuals with gluten intolerance. However, it’s essential to carefully inspect millet package labels to ensure they are entirely free from any traces of gluten.
2. Rich in antioxidants
If vegetables aren’t your preference, here’s an interesting study from Cornell University that might change your perspective on millet. The study highlights millet as an outstanding source of antioxidants, comparable to those found in fruits and vegetables. Millet is abundant in polyphenols and catechins, important phytonutrients.
While these beneficial compounds are naturally “free” in fruits and vegetables, they exist in a “bound” form within millet seeds. However, once your gut bacteria assist in their breakdown, the benefits become similar to the antioxidants found in vegetables.
3. Type 2 diabetes
Millet boasts a noteworthy magnesium content, a mineral crucial for insulin secretion. When you consume carbohydrates, your blood sugar levels rise, prompting your body to release insulin to regulate them. Consistent or disrupted use of this process can heighten the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
4. Heart diseases and cancers
Millet contains lignans, a type of phytoestrogen. These lignans, originally meant to shield the plant from attacks, undergo fermentation in our intestines. This process results in the creation of a substance that aids in averting heart disease, as well as hormone-related cancers like breast and prostate cancer.
Millet serves as a notable fiber source, and it’s important to differentiate between soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber becomes gel-like when in contact with liquids. As it moves through, it captures food residues, acting as a natural “cleanser” for the intestines. Additionally, it lessens cholesterol absorption and delays carbohydrate digestion. This gradual digestion helps control blood sugar levels effectively.
On the other hand, insoluble fibers absorb water, expanding stool volume. They speed up intestinal movement, combating constipation effectively.
6. Weight loss
When following a diet, resisting the temptation of sweets between meals can be challenging. To sustain a feeling of fullness after eating, consuming fiber and protein is crucial, and millet contains both in substantial amounts.
Fiber contributes to slower digestion, effectively regulating your appetite. Consistent fiber intake can enhance weight management, providing better control.
The satiety effect of protein was elaborated by researchers in 2012. This intricate mechanism involves nervous message exchanges between the brain and the digestive system upon protein absorption. These messages reach the hypothalamus, a brain region governing appetite.
As for the question of whether millet causes weight gain, it’s worth noting that while it’s a starch with carbohydrates affecting blood sugar, consuming it in moderation is advised during weight loss efforts. Nonetheless, millet adds dietary diversity with valuable nutrients.
Is millet dangerous?
Millet offers remarkable benefits for your body due to its nutrients. However, it contains phytic acid, sometimes termed an anti-nutrient. This acid can limit the absorption of specific nutrients such as calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium.
When included in a well-rounded diet, deficiencies aren’t a concern. Millet has been a dietary staple for millennia and poses potential side effects only with excessive consumption.
Millet also falls under the category of goitrogenic foods, contributing to iodine loss in the body. Similarly, cauliflower, broccoli, and kale belong to this group, impacting the thyroid gland negatively. Iodine deficiency can lead to unusual gland growth and the development of goiter in the throat.
Individuals with thyroid issues are advised to limit consumption of goitrogenic foods. However, for most people, there’s no danger, as developed countries generally maintain balanced diets, and iodine intake is addressed through table salt.
How to cook millet?
To reduce the phytic acid content in millet, you can soak it overnight. Here’s a step-by-step guide:
1. Measure and Rinse: Weigh the desired amount of dry millet. Thoroughly rinse it with clear water, removing any small impurities. Ensure proper drainage after rinsing.
2. Calculate Water: To determine the water needed for cooking, multiply the millet’s weight by 2.125.
– For 100g millet → 100g x 2.125 = 212.5 ml water
– For 150g millet → 150g x 2.125 = 319 ml water
– For 200g millet → 200g x 2.125 = 425 ml water
3. Cooking: Add the calculated water to a pot and cover it with a lid to prevent water loss during boiling. When the water boils, add a few spoonfuls of olive oil and the rinsed millet. Cover the pot and let it cook over low heat for about 10 minutes. Avoid high heat to prevent burning.
4. Resting: Remove the pot from heat and let it rest for 20 minutes with the lid on. The millet will continue to swell during this time.
Millet serves as a fantastic alternative to rice and quinoa, offering health benefits. However, if you find its plain flavor lacking, consider adding sauces or vegetables for better taste.
Millet can be enjoyed for breakfast with almond milk flavored with vanilla, similar to rice pudding with seasonal fruits. As explained earlier, due to its qualities, millet can keep you satisfied until noon without feeling hungry.
Millet Flour for Bread:
Millet flour is perfect for making bread with a dense crumb. While making it at home might be challenging, you can find millet bread in organic stores. It serves as a gluten-free option for those intolerant to gluten-containing breads.
Millet is a versatile and nutritious grain that can be adapted to various dishes, offering a range of health benefits.
Lunch and Dinner:
Millet effortlessly complements your meals, offering a variety of options. While we can’t cover all the potential recipes, you can create delightful stuffed zucchini with millet or a tasty millet omelette.
Millet is a wonderful base for crafting flavorful vegetable pancakes that are sure to please those following a vegetarian diet.
Key Points to Remember
- Millet, a cereal akin to rice and wheat, predominantly consists of carbohydrates. However, it offers a wealth of other nutrients with significant advantages for our health.
- Abundant in magnesium, fiber, and phosphorus, millet also provides a noteworthy protein content.
- Being gluten-free, millet is an excellent choice for individuals with celiac disease. For everyone else, it offers dietary diversity.
- While millet contains phytic acid like some other plants, its impact is minimal within a balanced diet.
- Millet is a versatile food, suitable for consumption from morning to evening, appealing to both young and old.