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The Hidden Health Benefits of Millet: The Gluten-free Whole Grain

Health Benefits of Millet
While the main advantage of millet is its nutritional content, it is one of the few types of whole grain that is alkaline and gluten free.
Nicks J
Last Updated: Mar 9, 2018
Millet Crop
Choosing Millet
Whatever variety of millet you choose, always go for organic hulled millet. It is more nutritious than millet grown by conventional methods. Moreover, millet recipes made from organic ingredients are always a delight to eat.
Ask any American about millet and he would say that it is birdseed. However, the use of millet should not just be restricted to feeding birds. Considering its high nutritional profile, millet deserves to be an integral part of the diet in the US. Millet is a whole grain that has not got the due it deserves. Cooked millet can be a great substitute for your morning oatmeal, or can simply be sprinkled uncooked over toasts or salads for a mild, sweet flavor. Also, it takes very little time to cook millet, thereby allowing you to easily add to your meals.

Millet whole grains are literally bastions of nutrition. Also, millet can be a great addition to your weight loss regime as it is low in calories and high in fiber. So, consuming millet keeps you fuller for a longer duration, thereby helping to curb your food cravings, reducing calorie intake.
Millet Health Benefits
Alkaline Forming Grain
An alkaline-based diet is often recommended to achieve optimal health. In fact, a healthy diet accounts for 60% alkaline foods. Millet is an alkaline forming food, meaning it turns alkaline when it combines with digestive enzymes. The soothing alkaline nature of millet helps to maintain a healthy pH balance in the body, crucial to prevent illnesses.
No Gluten
Looking for nutritious gluten free foods? If yes, what better choice than millet? It is not only free from this allergen, but also a good source of essential nutrients. In fact, it is ideal for people affected with celiac disease, who are very sensitive to gluten products.
Important Source of Magnesium
Golden millet
Millet is rich in magnesium, a dietary mineral that plays a key role in numerous bodily functions. Research has also proved that magnesium can decrease the occurrence of migraine attacks, as well as control asthma. Low magnesium levels increases the risk of high blood pressure, stiff arteries, and plaque formation in the arteries. All these factors are responsible for causing heart-related problems. Therefore, incorporating magnesium-rich foods such as millet in the diet can certainly be useful to minimize the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Besides magnesium, millet is also a good source of other dietary minerals including manganese, phosphorus, and iron.
Rich in B Vitamins
Boiled millet in bowl
Another benefit of eating millet-based food is that it provides an ample dose of B vitamins. Niacin, folacin, riboflavin, and thiamin are some of the B vitamins present in millet that play a key role in energy synthesis in the body. No wonder these nutrients are commonly found in a wide range of energy drinks. So, if you are feeling tired and looking for a quick fix for your energy crisis, a bowl of cooked millet can give you that much-needed energy boost.
An Excellent Antioxidant
Proso grains
Protect yourself from free radical damage by eating foods containing millet, as these grains display strong antioxidant properties. This was evident in a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2010. The study, conducted by a group of biologists, found out that different varieties of millet such as proso, foxtail, kodo, and finger show high antioxidant potency.
Promotes Healthy Cholesterol
These delicious grains are an excellent source of phytochemicals, which, according to studies, can cut down bad cholesterol levels, as well as increase good cholesterol levels. Thus, ensuring adequate millet-based foods in the diet would definitely benefit in promoting heart health.
Acts as a Prebiotic
Millet grains
The good bacteria in the intestine depend on non-digestive substances known as prebiotics for their survival. Millet whole grain also shows prebiotic activity, which helps to increase the population of friendly bacteria that play a key role to promote digestion. Also, unlike refined grains, millet does not allow yeast and 'bad' bacteria to flourish.
Lowers Triglyceride Levels
The term 'triglyceride' refers to a type of fat that circulates in the blood. Abnormally high triglyceride levels can put a person in the risk zone of heart problems. A diet containing millet can be useful in maintaining healthy triglyceride levels. An animal study published in the April edition of the Journal of Nutrition Research, 2010 revealed that hyperlipidemic rats who were fed on proso millet and foxtail millet for a period of 4 weeks showed a substantial drop in triglyceride levels. C-reactive protein, excess of which raises heart risk, was also found to be significantly lower in the rats put on foxtail millet. The result of the study does suggest including millet in the diet may help to promote a healthy cardiovascular system.
Improves Mood
Millet cheesecake
Millet contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid that helps in the production of serotonin. Serotonin, a brain chemical, plays a significant role in influencing mood, sleep, and appetite. Low serotonin levels have been linked to depression and disturbances in sleep. So, if you are feeling low and have a bad mood, it's time to cook millet and uplift your mood. No wonder millet containing dishes such as millet cake, millet loaf, millet pie, and millet fried rice are considered to be good mood foods.
Good Source of High Quality Protein
Although there are some good sources of protein, most of them are highly acidic and can upset your pH balance. However, millet is not only alkaline, but just 50 grams of it contains 12% of daily recommended intake of protein. Those following a strict vegetarian diet devoid of meat and dairy products must take millet regularly to fulfill their protein requirements.
Goitrogenic substances that interfere with normal thyroid function are present in millet. Too much consumption of millet can worsen symptoms associated with thyroid dysfunction. So, people with pre-existing thyroid problems, more specifically hypothyroidism, need to restrict intake of millet or millet-based foods.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.