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NUTRITIONAL SIGNIFICANCE OF MILLETS
More people are becoming increasingly health conscious and choosing healthy food options. Millets are far more nutrient dense than wheat and rice. They are tasty and easily available. Since they are highly under-consumed, we should make efforts to incorporate them into our daily menus in the form of rotis, bread or other food preparations. Millets like sorghum (jowar), pearl millet (bajra), or barley have always been stereotyped as grains for the underprivileged. They are associated with either seed given to birds or thick rotis to eat for a rural event or a dish to be had occasionally. Fortunately, millets are gradually acquiring importance. People are more and more becoming aware of the nutritional benefits of millet. Plus, seeing them on the racks of health stores has motivated many a person to consume millet more frequently. If we were to draw a bar graph comparing the nutrient content of millets and wheat or rice, the millet bar would tower to a much greater extent. For example, the calcium content in finger millet (ragi) is nearly 350mg for 100g whereas in wheat and rice it is even below 50mg.
A few millets are eaten in the form of grains but most are pounded into flour and then used to make a range of dishes. Although adding bran and soy flour to wheat would give it extra fibre and protein it will not increase the content of minerals and B vitamins. Nutritionists are now advising their clients to consume multigrain flour rotis and bread or switch to millet because of their high nutrient density. Due to the high fibre content, they also aid in healthy weight loss. For example, instead of two wheat chappatis, one can easily do with consuming just one bajra roti or one multi-flour chapatti with added bran. Nowadays a range of bread made from millets and premixed flours of jowar, bajra, wheat, Bengal gram flour, and soya are also available. We just need to know their nutrient content to motivate ourselves to consume them on daily basis.