Globally , millets are the sixth most cultivated grains after corn, rice, wheat, barley and sorghum. In many developing countries it is the main source of protein
Millet is frequently described as an ancient grain, though it is technically a seed. There is no official definition for the term “ancient grain,” but the Whole Grains Council includes in this category grains that have remained largely unchanged over the past several centuries. Quinoa, chia seed, and buckwheat are all considered ancient grains while modern varieties of wheat are not.
Though technically a seed, millet offers similar health benefits to other grains and can be prepared in many of the same ways. It looks like little yellow pellets of bird seed (which is, in fact, one of the ways it is used) but it cooks up into a tender grain that has a mild corn flavor. It is both nutrient-rich and offers numerous heart-protective properties in addition to other benefits. Plus, it is something unique that can help add some flavor variety to your gluten free diet.
Here is an overview of some of the other health benefits millet has to offer:
- With 9 grams of fiber per 100-gram serving, millet supports healthy and regular digestion. It may also help resolve issues like diarrhea and supports healthy gut flora to prevent peptic ulcers and reduce your risk of colon cancer.
- Millet is rich in catechins such as quercetin which boost liver and kidney function. These organs are essential for the detoxification of the body.
- The magnesium content of millet provides a variety of benefits including improving insulin sensitivity to help prevent type 2 diabetes.
- Millet contains numerous antioxidants including selenium, quercetin, and pantothenic acid which protect the body against free-radical damage and oxidative stress, helping to prevent many chronic diseases.
- Rich in iron as well as folate and folic acid, millet helps prevent anemia by supporting the formation of red blood cells and maintaining adequate hemoglobin levels.
- The phosphorus content of millet supports the formation of cells, tissues, and bones, helping the body repair itself – phosphorus is also a key component in nervous system structures.
With plenty of insoluble fiber, millet prevents the formation of gallstones by reducing intestinal transit time – it also reduces bile acid secretion which is known to contribute to gallstone formation.