Although millet is most often associated as the main ingredient in bird seed, it is not just “for the birds”. Creamy like mashed potatoes or fluffy like rice, millet is a delicious grain that can accompany many types of food. As with most grains, millet is available in markets throughout the year.
Millet is tiny in size and round in shape and can be white, gray, yellow or red. The most widely available form of millet found in stores is the hulled variety. Although traditional couscous made from cracked millet can also be found. The term millet refers to a variety of grains, some of which do not belong to the same genus.
Millet provides a host of nutrients, has a sweet nutty flavor. And is considered to be one of the most digestible and non-allergenic grains available. It is one of the few grains that is alkalizing to the body.
Most people have not even heard of millet, much less understand the benefits of millet nutrition. And yet, millet is one of the best-kept secrets of our ancient ancestors. Traced back to its origin in China, millet has been used throughout the ages and across many countries.
For centuries millet has been a prized crop in China, India, Greece, Egypt and Africa, used in everything from bread to couscous, and as cereal grain.
This tiny “grain” is gluten-free and packed with vitamins and minerals. In fact, while it’s often called a grain because of it’s grain-like consistency, millet is actually a seed.
In India and some other countries, sprouted (malted) grains are commonly used as weaning foods for infants and as easily-digested foods for the elderly and infirm.
Although oats have been widely publicized for their heart-protective properties, millet is a grain that should also be included on your list of heart-healthy choices because of its status as a good source of magnesium. Magnesium has been shown in studies to reduce the severity of asthma and to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. Magnesium has also been shown to lower high blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attack. Especially in people with atherosclerosis or diabetic heart disease.
Millet is also a great source of potassium, which further keeps blood pressure low by acting as a vasodilator. Reducing your blood pressure and optimizing your circulatory system is one of the best ways to protect your cardiovascular health. Furthermore, the plant lignans found in *millet can be converted to animal lignans by the microflora in our digestive system. And those animal lignans have been shown to protect against certain chronic diseases, like cancer and heart disease.
*Millet and other whole grains are a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that acts as a co-factor for more than 300 enzymes, including enzymes involved in the body’s use of glucose and insulin secretion.
Protection Against Diabetes: Diabetes is a disease found in millions of people around the world. *Millet is a beneficial food staple in many developing countries (where diabetes is less frequently found), perhaps because one of the effects of *millet is a reduced chance of Type 2 diabetes, thanks to the significant levels of magnesium found in this particular grain. Magnesium is considered one of the most important minerals for increasing the efficiency of insulin and glucose receptors in the body. Thereby preventing this disease. A 30% reduction in diabetes has been seen in populations divided between diets with or without magnesium.
As most fiber-rich foods boast, *millet can help move your gastrointestinal system along and eliminate problems like constipation, excess gas, bloating, and cramping. By regulating your digestive process, you also improve your nutrient retention and reduce your chance of more serious gastrointestinal conditions like gastric ulcers or colon cancer. Regular digestion and elimination of waste also helps to optimize your kidney, liver. And immune system health, as those organ systems are closely related to the body’s metabolic activities.
Recent research has revealed fiber to be one of the best and easiest ways to prevent the onset of breast cancer in women. In fact, women can reduce their chances of breast cancer by more than 50% by eating more than 30 grams of fiber every day.