Health Benefits of Finger Millet

Millet is a grain and a staple food in many parts of the world. There are many different kinds of millet, which all have similar health benefits. Finger millet is gaining popularity worldwide because of how easy it is to grow and how adaptable it is as a food.

Finger millet has been used across Africa and Southeast Asia for thousands of years. It’s used to make bread, beer, and cereal. Today, finger millet can be found in health food stores and large supermarkets throughout the US, and it’s widely used as an alternative to wheat or other grains.

Health Benefits

The vitamins, minerals, and fiber found in finger millet can provide important health benefits. The potassium found in finger millet can help keep your kidneys and heart functioning properly. Potassium also helps your nerves transmit signals, which allows your brain and your muscles to work together smoothly.

Finger millet is also an excellent source of B vitamins, which play a role in everything from brain function to healthy cell division. B vitamins are even connected to a reduction in fatigue.

In addition, finger millet can provide other health benefits like: 

Heart Health

Whole grains like finger millet are connected to lower risk of heart disease. Finger millet is full of dietary fiber, which helps to control the “bad” cholesterol that can contribute to heart diseases like atherosclerosis. Soluble fiber absorbs cholesterol before it enters your bloodstream, maintaining a lower cholesterol level without medication. Millet has also been shown to raise “good” cholesterol levels and lower triglycerides, which are a kind of fat found in your blood. Cholesterol levels are one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease, so eating millet regularly may help keep your heart healthier.

Diabetes Control

Finger millet has a low glycemic index. That means that it has lower levels of simple sugars and higher levels of complex carbohydrates, which take a longer time to digest. Foods with a low glycemic index can help prevent your blood glucose level from spiking after a meal. As a result, eating millet — instead of high glycemic index foods like white wheat flour — can help people living with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels. 

Digestive Health

The fiber in finger millet can also help support your digestive health. Insoluble dietary fiber is “prebiotic,” meaning it helps support the good bacteria in your gut. Eating prebiotics like the fiber in millet can support gut health by keeping your digestive flora healthy. Eating enough fiber has also been linked to a decreased risk of colon cancer.

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Nutrition

Finger millet is rich in niacin, which plays an important role in more than 400 enzyme reactions. Niacin is important to maintaining the health of your skin, blood, and organs. Niacin is frequently added to foods as a supplement because it is such an important micronutrient.

 

Finger millet is also an excellent source of:

Nutrients per Serving

A quarter-cup serving of dry millet contains:

Portion Sizes 

Like most grains, millet is relatively calorie-rich. Eating millet in moderation can help you to maintain a healthy weight. One cup of cooked millet is considered one serving. When cooking millet, pay attention to how much you use to understand how many calories you will be consuming. 

How to Prepare Finger Millet

Millet can be found in a variety of different forms. Dried millet, ground millet, and puffed millet are all common styles that can be found in supermarkets and health food stores. 

Dried millet is cooked similarly to rice or quinoa. Ground millet can be substituted for wheat flour, and puffed millet can be used in place of puffed rice. Finger millet is a healthy addition to most diets. Here are some ways to enjoy finger millet:

  • Use ground finger millet instead of wheat flour in pancakes
  • Use millet instead of rice in stuffed peppers
  • Make millet bread
  • Use millet instead of bread in stuffing
  • Use puffed millet to make marshmallow squares
  • Try millet pilaf
  • Include millet in curry
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on September 08, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Dietary fiber intake and risk of colorectal cancer and incident and recurrent adenoma in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial.“

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: “Finger Millet.”

Food Research International: “Potential use of pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.) in Brazil: Food security, processing, health benefits and nutritional products.”

FoodData Central: “Millet, cooked.”

The Guardian: “Against the grain: why millet is making a comeback in rural India.”

Journal of Food Science and Technology: “Health benefits of finder millet (Eleusine coracana L.} polyphenols and dietary fiber: a review.”

The Kitchn: “Good Grains: What Is Millet?”

National Institutes of Health: “Niacin.”

National Institutes of Health: “Potassium.”

National Institutes of Health: “Vitamin B12.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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