Millet, a superfood with dual benefits? How Ragi can control blood sugar and reduce bad cholesterol. Health and Wellness News

Many people suffering from diabetes often ask me if they can replace rice or wheat with bajra, ragi or finger millet, as they are the oldest and most popular. And being the lightest of all millets, ragi is considered easy to adjust. But remember that it is a grain and hence, it has the same carbohydrate value as rice or wheat. But being rich in fiber, it is slowly absorbed in the body and prevents sugar from rising. This is why it has emerged as a preferred option as a major option.

It has a glycemic index (GI) of less than 50, which measures how quickly blood glucose is released into the bloodstream. But you have to maintain the glycemic load, meaning the amount of carbohydrates in the food, and ensure that it does not increase the collective sugar load. So while including ragi in your diet, control the quantity and do not increase your glycemic load. Ragi contains high amount of protein, which again has high satiety value, delays digestion and reduces hunger. It is high in calcium, which is good for your bone density and is rich in essential nutrients.

Per 100 grams of ragi, there are about 10 to 11.5 grams of fiber and about 10 grams of protein. It is rich in vitamin B which is important for energy metabolism, nerve function and red blood cell production. Ragi is also a good source of vitamin K, A, calcium, selenium and iron, an essential mineral for oxygen transport in the blood and prevention of anemia. It is rich in ferulic acid, caffeic acid and quercetin, all of which are antioxidants.

Ragi has the highest amount of calcium (344 mg%) and potassium (408 mg%) among all the cereals and millets. It contains more dietary fiber, minerals, and sulfur-containing amino acids than white rice.

Ragi contains no cholesterol and sodium and hence, it is suitable for people suffering from heart disease. Additionally, the abundance of dietary fiber and vitamin B3 or niacin promotes good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels while reducing harmful LDL (low-density lipoprotein) levels. It prevents plaque and fat accumulation in the heart vessels, thereby improving heart muscle functioning and heart health.

How should Ragi be consumed?

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This millet can be taken in the form of solid items like idli, upma or dosa. In this form, ragi guarantees better fiber content. It is better to eat it as porridge. Also, keep it unpolished to retain its nutrients. Mix it with vegetable proteins such as Bengal gram, green gram and mushrooms or animal proteins such as fish, chicken and egg whites. Also since ragi is a grain, don’t forget your plating formula. Include green leafy vegetables and fruits to make your diet nutritious. Your grain is not the only thing that matters, the balance of nutrients is more important.

When is the best time to eat ragi?

Given the fiber content, it is best to consume ragi in the morning. Since it takes a long time to digest, it is better to avoid eating it at night, especially for people who have stomach problems and allergies. Take it at lunchtime as its slow-release sugar can help stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent post-meal energy slump.

What about portion size?

(Source: IE Graphics)

Depending on your dietary needs and calorie intake, the recommended portion size of cooked millet is about half to one cup. You also need to balance your intake with your level of physical activity. You can safely eat ragi twice a day.

First published: 27-09-2023 10:03 IST

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