Cooked to be creamy like mashed potatoes or fluffy like rice, millet is a delicious and versatile grain that can accompany many types of food. And a big plus today is that this tiny grain is “gluten free” and packed with many vitamins and minerals – a veritable powerhouse of goodness.
This staple of any whole grain diet is over 10% protein with a high fiber content and especially full of B-complex vitamins but one of the most important aspects of millet is its rich source of magnesium. As well as magnesium, millet is full of so many nutrients that your body needs on a daily basis: calcium, manganese, tryptophan, phosphorus and antioxidants.
There are other health advantages
- Millet acts as a probiotic to feed important microflora in your inner ecosystem. Lignans, an essential phytonutrient present in millet, are very beneficial to the human body. Under the action of interstitial friendly flora, they are converted to mammalian lignans, which act against different types of hormone-dependent cancers, like breast cancer, and also help reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Millet provides serotonin to calm and soothe your moods.
- Millet helps hydrate your colon to keep you regular.
- Millet is alkaline and it digests easily.
Studies have found that
- The magnesium in millet can help reduce the affects of migraines and heart attacks. Magnesium is also beneficial in reducing the frequency of migraine attacks. It is even very useful for people who are suffering from atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease.
- The niacin (vitamin B3) in millet can help lower cholesterol.
- The phosphorus in millet helps with fat metabolism, body tissue repair and creating energy - a single cup of millet provides around 24.0% of the body’s daily phosphorus requirement. This mineral is a very important constituent of nucleic acids, which are the building blocks of genetic code.
- Millet can help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, mainly due to the rich source of magnesium, which acts as a co-factor in a number of enzymatic reactions in the body, regulating the secretion of glucose and insulin.
- Fiber from whole grains has been shown to protect against breast cancer particularly in post-menopausal women while regular consumption of millet is very beneficial for any high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
- Consumption of millet can help women combat the occurrence of gallstones, as they are a very high source of insoluble fiber.
- Millet as a healthy whole grain has been shown to reduce the occurrence of wheezing and protect against childhood asthma.
How to buy millet
Millet is generally available in its hulled and whole-grain form, both pre packaged or in bulk containers. When buying from bins, ensure the millet is covered, free of moisture and with a good turnover in sales to ensure its freshness. Store millet in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place, where it will keep for several months.
When you are ready to cook
- Rinse it off and remove any stones or unhulled pieces.
- Then soak or sprout your millet for 8 to 24 hours prior to preparing it, so that you remove the phytic acid that binds up minerals and enzyme inhibitors making it difficult to digest.
- Cook millet as you would rice but with more water (3 cups water to 1 cup millet) but after soaking, try 1 cup of millet to 2 or 2 ½ cups of water. You determine how much water to use depending on how soft you like your grain.
- You will know your millet is ready to eat because the dark yellow color will become opaque.
It is good to know that
- Cooked millet can be served as a breakfast porridge to which you can add your favorite nuts and fruits or cinnamon and raw honey.
- Ground millet can be added to bread and muffin recipes.
- Cooked and chilled millet can be tossed with your favorite chopped vegetables and protein such as chicken before adding a dressing.
Spoken of as a treasured crop in the bible written centuries ago, millet has always been an important food source in China, India, Greece, Egypt and Africa where it is used extensively in everything from bread to couscous and as cereal grain.
- Millet can be served as an alternative to rice or potatoes with any regular supper dishes.