Types Of Millets That Must Be Consumed For Good Health

Types Of Millets That Must Be Consumed For Good Health

Millets are cereal grains from the Poaceae grass family that have been cultivated for over 4000 years in parts of Asia and Europe. Major grains during the middle ages, millets are grown for their edible seeds that are rich in proteins and carbohydrates.

Considered ancient grains, they are used for both human and livestock food. Being drought and pest-resistant, they have multiple advantages over other crops. All varieties of millets are known to survive harsh environments and grow well even in less fertile soil, making them a beneficial crop for farmers.

Millets are now gaining immense popularity because of their gluten-free nature, making them a great substitute for staples like wheat and rice, especially for those on weight loss diets.

Benefits Of Millets

Including millets in regular diets can help the body in managing a variety of healthy skin and organ functions. Some of them are-

  • Millets contain beta-carotene, a natural pigment that helps fight free radicals, and promotes vitamin A build-up for supporting eye health.
  • All varieties of millets are high in complex carbohydrates and have a low glycemic index. This prevents sugar spikes after meals and helps manage diabetes with ease.
  • Rich in both soluble and insoluble fibres, millets are considered ‘prebiotic’, which means they promote growth of good bacteria in the gut. Fibre also adds bulk to the stool which regulates bowel movement and reduces the risk of colon cancer.
  • The soluble fibre present in millets turns into a gel and absorbs cholesterol in the stomach and helps carry it out of the body. All types of millets are known to raise good cholesterol or HDL too, which in turn reduces the risk of heart disease.


With the benefits of all types of millets come the benefits of their flours too, which make the use easier and varied. It is important to make an informed choice while buying millet flour online, and buy from trusted brands like JIWA.

List Of Millets

Millets are known to benefit health in many ways and promote a feeling of well-being. It would be great to then know the various types too, right?

Millets differ in size, colour, texture and even uses, but the two main categories are- major millets (including pearl, foxtail, proso, finger), and minor millets (including kodo, barnyard, little). Let's talk about each one in a little more detail.

Pearl millet

Locally known as Bajra, this is one of the more popular millets in northern India.

Appearance and taste- Usually pale yellow or brown in colour, bajra grains can also be grey, white or purple, and have a subtle nutty flavour.

Nutrition- Like all other types of millets, Pearl millet is rich in fibre, calcium, iron, and protein. Notable is the iron content, which is 8 times more than that in rice. It also has a low glycemic index and is a grain of preference for diabetics. Bajra also promotes secretion of milk, and is fed to cows to induce lactation.

Uses- Mostly used in ground form as flour, bajra is a common winter staple in kitchens. It is used to make rotis, cookies, flatbreads, and even sweets like halwa.

Sorghum

Popularly known as Jowar or Jowari, this millet is widely consumed across the Indian subcontinent because of its season agnostic use. The popularity of Jowari is probably the highest among the types of millets in India owing to its easy availability and vast culinary uses.

Appearance and taste- Usually yellow, cream, white or chalky white in colour, jowari grains have a mild earthy flavour.

Nutrition- Sorghum is an ancient grain rich in iron, calcium, copper, magnesium, niacin, riboflavin and other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in antioxidants like flavonoids, phenolic acid, and tannins which help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress that are the root cause of many diseases. The high fibre and protein help keep sugar levels stable, maintain body weight and keep the gut healthy.

Uses- Jowari can be cooked like quinoa or rice, and even popped like popcorn. It can be ground into flour and used to make gluten-free flatbreads, or used in international recipes like Jowari enchiladas.

Get started on a nutrition-dense culinary journey by buying jowari atta online and use it to make chapatis, parathas, breads, cookies and what not!

Apart from its varied culinary uses, it is also used as a natural, cost-effective fuel option.

Barnyard Millet

Often considered a fasting staple, barnyard millet is also called Sanva or madira in India.

Appearance and taste- Usually yellow or white in colour, sanva tastes like broken rice and has a very neutral roll on the palette.

Nutrition- Just like all other types of millets, this one is also rich in vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, protein, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and dietary fibre. The antioxidants in sanva prevent cell damage due to oxidative stress and protect the body against diseases.

Uses- Sanva is soft to chew once cooked and very easy to digest. This makes it a popular choice for kids and can be made into delicious, nutrient-dense, sweet or savoury porridge. When soaked and ground, it can be used to make dosas or cheelas as well.

Proso Millet

This one goes by many names like common millet, kashfi, red millet, hog millet and broomcorn millet. Common in the southern states of India, this one is a drought-resistant crop and grown mainly in dry and arid regions of Nepal, China, Ukraine, Russia, Middle east, Turkey and America too.

Appearance and taste- Usually yellow, the colours range from orange, red, to brown or black too. Proso millet is easy to digest, highly alkaline and has a slightly nutty flavour.

Nutrition- Proso millet contains lecithin, a fat which supports the neural health system in the body. It is also rich in Vitamin B, calcium, zinc, iron, and amino acids like cysteine and methionine. Like other varieties of millets it has a low glycemic index that helps reduce the risk of diabetes.

Uses- like foxtail, proso can also be used as a rice substitute in various recipes like khichdi, pilafs, or stir fry. It has the perfect texture for use in salads like tabbouleh and can be a great couscous replacement too. Besides human consumption, proso is used as birdseed and also food for livestock. Ground into flour, it can be used to make flatbreads, or chapatis.

Little Millet

Grown in both temperate and tropical regions, little millet is native to East Asia and particularly parts of southern India. It goes by the name Kutki in local languages.

Appearance and taste- Straw white or grey-coloured small round grains that taste slightly bitter with a nutty undertone, little millet is more earthy than most other millets. The taste and texture is a lot like couscous or quinoa.

Nutrition- Most types of millets in India are nutrient-dense and so it is little millet. It reduces the risk of diabetes, controls cholesterol, and helps maintain good gut health with its high fibre content.

Uses- Little millet is also a great rice alternative just like the different kinds of millets and makes a great porridge or upma for breakfast. Soaked, and ground- it makes great idlis, dhoklas or dosas. Cooked little millet is a great add-on for salads and for great nutritious falafels.

Kodo Millet

Kodo is the more common name for this millet locally, but it also goes by names like cow grass, ditch millet, or rice grass and is grown primarily in the African tropical regions. It is called Kodo dhana in Hindi, Varagu in Tamil, Arikalu in Telugu, Kodro in Gujarati, Harka in Kannada and Kodon in Urdu. Just like its many names, it has a variety of uses and local food adaptations.

Appearance and taste- Kodo millet colours vary from light brown to dark grey and it has a mild nutty earthy taste.

Nutrition- This millet has a nutrition profile similar to other different kinds of millets. It is high in fibre and protein content and helps people suffering from metabolism-related diseases, especially postmenopausal women. Kodo millet is rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals also, that help reduce the risk of lifestyle related diseases like diabetes. Its high calcium and phosphorus content along with the concentration of other vitamins and minerals helps improve bone health and reduce the risk of arthritis.

Uses- As a whole grain, kodo millet is a great rice replacement in pilaf, porridge, or khichdi. Fermented kodo acts as a natural probiotic and is used to make a score of non-dairy probiotic beverages. Ground into flour, it makes good flatbreads and can be used in idli and dosa batter as well.

Besides these, there are many lesser known varieties as well, that are not in common use. But if these are included in everyday meals, they can be of great nutritional benefit by themselves.

To conclude, all types of millets are packed with fibre, protein, calcium and vitamins. They are a great replacement for rice, and can be prepared and eaten in the same way as well. Millets are mostly alkaline, have a somewhat strong earthy and nutty taste, and are consumed in porridges, flatbreads, idlis, and dosas.

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