Life is a never-ending cycle. Food and the fashion of yesteryear are resurfacing. The food of our forefathers was nutritional and well-balanced. In this fast-paced world, most of us turn to fast food. And our health has taken a toll. Health is wealth – we realize that now. We are seeking out superfoods from the past to add to our daily diets to undo some of the damage. Millets are making a comeback and are the talk of the town, as they are nutrient-rich and enrich our palates and lives.
Ragi or Finger Millet is a powerhouse of nutrients and that is why it has been a staple in South Indian households since ancient times. In India, babies are given ragi porridge when they start solids, along with a dollop of ghee. Adults also consume ragi in the form of porridge or in the form of dosa, upma, mudde, roti, chilla, vermicilli or puttu. It is used even in the preparation of Indian sweet dishes such as ragi burfi, ragi halwa, ragi laddoo, and ragi cookies. Spicy condiments such as murukku, sev, pakoda, and chips can be made. It can be incorporated into a variety of pancakes and cakes as well.
It is an Indian superfood and more people all over India reap its benefits by adding it to their daily diet. Let us now dive into Ragi’s magical world.
Facts About Ragi Millet:
· Ragi has its origin in East Africa – Ethiopian and Ugandan highlands to be precise
· Eleusine coracana is the scientific name of the millet
· Crop cultivation found in parts of India, Nepal, and eastern and southern parts of Africa
· It earned the name ‘Finger Millet’ because the plant’s head has five spikes resembling human fingers
· Ragi is called ‘Kodo’ in Nepal and ‘Kurakkan’ in Sri Lanka
· It is called by different names in India – while it is called ‘Ragi’ in Kannada, Telugu, and Hindi it is known as ‘Kezhvaragu’ in Tamil, ‘Taidalu’ in Telangana regions, ‘Nachni’ in Marathi, ‘Mandua’/ ‘Mangal’ in Hindi, ‘Kodra’ in the state of Himachal Pradesh, and ‘Mandia’ in Orissa
· Karnataka is the top Ragi producer in India
· Ragi cools body temperature, hence it is consumed in summer in India
· While most grains need to be polished, Ragi need not be. This makes it healthier than polished grains
· The millet has to either be ground into flour or malted for consumption.
Health Benefits of Ragi Millet:
Ragi has umpteen health benefits. Some benefits like weight loss and gluten-free nutrition are well known. Some benefits are not widely known. We decode it for you here:
Ragi is a power-packed millet with carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and fiber. The micronutrients in it are vitamins (Vitamins C, E, and complex B vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamine, and folic acid) and minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. It contains minute traces of cholesterol and sodium. It is also a rich source of vital amino acids.
Ragi is highly recommended for diabetic patients, as it can keep you satiated while curbing food cravings. It is an excellent source of polyphenols. Although it is high in carbohydrates, it has chemicals that slow down the breakdown of carbohydrates. The high fiber content along with the low glycemic index when cooked, makes it apt for diabetes patients.
As Ragi has abundant iron levels, it helps increase hemoglobin levels thus treating anemia.
A boon for expecting and new mothers:
When consumed during pregnancy, ragi provides folic acid which is essential to the baby’s growth. For lactating mothers, finger millet helps with milk production and hormone balance.
A friend for the human heart:
As Ragi has negligent amounts of sodium and cholesterol, it is safe to be consumed by people with heart complications. The presence of fibers and B3 complex vitamins also diminish bad LDL levels while raising the healthy HDL levels in the body.
Ragi is rich in calcium which strengthens bones in individuals of all ages. This is especially useful for women who are at risk of osteoporosis.
Finger millet has memory-improving properties and mind-calming functionalities that fight depression, anxiety and insomnia. Tryptophan – an amino acid found in Ragi – is the reason.
Hope this enlightens you to start including Finger Millet in your diet. Its nutritional value is incomparable and helps to combat stress levels. Moreover, it is known to be a good source of dietary fiber. We will cover more about millets. Stay tuned. Happy parenting.