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Information

Rediscovering the forgotten Millets…..

Aparna Kuna, Manorama Kanuri & Anurag Chaturvedi
Department of Foods & Nutrition, Post Graduate & Research Centre
Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University, Hyderabad

Millets are small seeded annual cereal grains from a group of grassy plants with short slender culm and small grains possessing remarkable ability to survive under severe drought. They can be cultivated in all types of soils and sustains adverse climatic conditions and they have excellent rejuvenating capacity compared to other cereal crops. The fast growing nature of the crop suppresses the weed growth and thus, are promising crops under adverse agro climatic conditions.

Nutritionally too, millets are important crops with fair source of proteins, which are highly digestible and an excellent source of dietary fibre with good amounts of soluble and insoluble fractions. The carbohydrate content is low and slowly digestible, which makes the millets a nature’s gift for the modern mankind who is engaged in sedentary activities.

Today there is a significant change in the lifestyle of people owing to the rapid industrialization, improved socio-economic status, enhanced health facilities and increased life expectancy. Economic affluence coupled with sedentary lifestyles and changing food patterns are contributing to several chronic degenerative diseases such as diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, etc. The chief reasons for the degenerative diseases are urbanization and life style, besides heredity, race, age, nutritional status, stress, altered immune function, altered physiological and metabolic status, drugs and hormones.

Dietary modification, weight control, and regular exercise are the main approaches in the management of degenerative diseases, diet being the sheet anchor. New research findings indicate the potential value of diets in prevention of such disorders. In fact, the preventive role of corrective nutrition is an ever evolving process. Thus, for the health conscious genre of the present world, millets are perhaps one more addition to the proliferating list of healthy foods, owing to their nutritional superiority. With the modern people chasing ready to cook food items, the nutritive millets are being faded into oblivion. It is springtime for potential millets to be woven in the fabric of daily diet.

Although millets are nutritionally superior to cereals, yet the utilization is limited. The major factor discouraging their cultivation and consumption with improvement in living standard or urbanization is the drudgery associated with its processing. However, there is a need to restore the lost interest in millets which deserves recognition for their nutritional qualities and potential health benefits.Millets are claimed to be the future foods for better health and nutrition security.

In India, eight millets species (Sorghum, Finger millet, Pearl millet, Foxtail millet, Barnyard millet, Proso millet, Kodo millet and Little millet) are commonly cultivated under rainfed conditions. The various kinds are millets - their scientific, popular and common names are given in the table.

Crop Popular name Common names
MAJOR MILLETS
Sorghum vulgare Sorghum / Jowar Great millet, guinea corn, kafir corn, aura, jwari, cholam, kaoliang, milo, milo-maize
Pennisetumtyphoideum Pearl millet / Bajra Pearl millet, cumbu, spiked millet, bajri, bulrush millet, candle millet, dark millet
Eleusinecoracana Finger millet / Ragi African millet, koracan, ragulu, wimbi, bulo, telebun, Bhav, Nachni, Mandia, Kezhvaragu, Moothari
Setariaitalica Foxtail millet / Moha millet / Korra Italian millet, German millet, Hungarian millet, Siberian millet, Korra, Kangni, Kash, Thenai, Moha, Kakankora
MINOR MILLETS
Panicummiliaceum Proso millet / Varagalu French millet, common millet, hog millet, broom-corn millet, Russian millet, brown corn, Panivaragu, Varagalu, Kashpingu, Chinna
Echinochloafrumantacea Barnyard millet / Bontha Chamalu Sawa millet, Japanese barnyard millet, Bontachamalu, Sama, Samai, Kudiraivalu, Shamul
Paspalumscrobiculatum Kodo millet / Arikalu Varagu, Kodra, Haraka, Kodus, Arikalu, Mankodra, Kodoadhan
Panicummiliare
Panicumsumatrense
Little millet / Samai Kangni, Gadro, Kutki, Samai, Kash. Ganuharr, Chama, Sava, Suan, Goudli
 

Milletsare potential grains among the cereal grains with superior nutrient and nutraceutical components and hence, could be a worthyaddition to one’s diet.

 

Nutritive value & health benefits of the wonder grains – Millets

Aparna Kuna, Supraja T & Sucharitha. G
Department of Foods & Nutrition, Post Graduate & Research Centre

Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University, Hyderabad
 

Millets are a group of small grains which grow in harsh environments where other crops do not grow well. Improvements in production, availability, nutritional content, storage and utilization technology for millets can significantly contribute to the household food and nutrition security and nutrition of the millet consumers.

India is the world's largest producer of millets. In the 1970s, all of the millet crops harvested in India were used as food staple. By 2000s, the annual millets production had increased in India, yet per capita consumption of millets had dropped by between 50% to 75% in different regions of the country. As of 2005, the majority of millets produced in India was being used for alternative applications such as livestock fodder and alcohol production. Consumption of millets also dropped,  as India experienced rapid economic growth and witnessed a significant increase in per capita consumption of other cereals

Nutritive composition of millets
Like other cereals, major and minor millets are predominantly starchy. The protein content is nearly equal among these grains and is comparable to that of wheat and maize. Pearl and little millet are higher in fat, while finger millet contains the lowest fat. Barnyard millet has the lowest carbohydrate content and energy value. One of the characteristic features of the grain composition of millets is their high ash content. They are also relatively rich in iron and phosphorus. Finger millet has the highest calcium content among all the foodgrains. High fibre content and slow digestibility of carbohydrates are other characteristic features of sorghum and millet grains.

Millets are rich in B vitamins (especially niacin, B6 and folic acid), calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc. Generally the whole grains are important sources of B-complex vitamins, which are mainly concentrated in the outer bran layers of the grain.

Millets do not contain gluten.which makes them appropriate foods for those with celiac disease or other forms of allergies/intolerance of wheat. However, millets are also a mild thyroid peroxidase  inhibitor and probably should not be consumed in great quantities by those with  thyroid disease .

Health benefits of eating millets: 
  • Lignans, an essential phytonutrient present in millets, are very beneficial to the human body as they act against different types of hormone-dependent cancers, like breast cancer and also help reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Regular consumption of millet is very beneficial for postmenopausal women suffering from signs of cardiovascular disease, like high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
  • Intake of whole grains like millet and fish by children has been shown to reduce the occurrence of wheezing and asthma.
  • Consumption of millet can help women combat the occurrence of gallstones, as they are a very high source of insoluble fiber.
  • Millets are very high in phosphorus content, which plays a vital role in maintaining the cell structure of the human body. The key role of this mineral is that it helps in the formation of bone and is also an essential component of ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate), the energy currency of the body. A single cup of millet provides around 24% of the body’s daily phosphorus requirement. This mineral is a very important constituent of nucleic acids, which are the building blocks of genetic code.
  • Recent research has indicated that the regular consumption of millet is associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. This is mainly due to the fact that whole grains like millet are a rich source of magnesium, which regulate the secretion of glucose and insulin; and also due to slowly digestible carbohydrates.
  • Magnesium present in millets is also beneficial in reducing the frequency of migraine attacks. It is even very useful for people who are suffering from atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. 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.
  • Millets contains a high amount of lecithin and is excellent for strengthening the nervous system. 
  • Insoluble fiber present in millets not only speeds intestinal transit time (how quickly food moves through the intestines), but reduces the secretion of bile acids (excessive amounts contribute to gallstone formation), increases insulin sensitivity and lowers triglycerides (blood fats).
  • Millet is highly nutritious, non-glutinous and like buckwheat and quinoa, is not an acid forming food so is soothing and easy to digest. In fact, it is considered to be one of the least allergenic and most digestible grains available.
 
Nutrient composition of millets and other cereals (per 100 g edible portion; 12 percent moisture)
Food Protein
(g)
Fat (g) Ash (g) Fibre (g) Carhohydrate (g) Energy (kcal) Ca (mg) Fe (mg) Thiamin (mg) Riboflavin (mg) Niacin(mg)
Rice (brown) 7.9 2.7 1.3 1.0 76.0 362 33 1.8 0.41 0.04 4.3
Wheat 11.6 2.0 1.6 2.0 71.0 348 30 3.5 0.41 0.10 5.1
Maize 9.2 4.6 1.2 2.8 73.0 358 26 2.7 0.38 0.20 3.6
Sorghum 10.4 3.1 1.6 2.0 70.7 329 25 5.4 0.38 0.15 4.3
Pearl millet 11.8 4.8 2.2 2.3 67.0 363 42 11.0 0.38 0.21 2.8
Finger millet 7.7 1.5 2.6 3.6 72.6 336 350 3.9 0.42 0.19 1.1
Foxtail millet 11.2 4.0 3.3 6.7 63.2 351 31 2.8 0.59 0.11 3.2
Common millet 12.5 3.5 3.1 5.2 63.8 364 8 2.9 0.41 0.28 4.5
Little millet 9.7 5.2 5.4 7.6 60.9 329 17 9.3 0.30 0.09 3.2
Barnyard millet 11.0 3.9 4.5 13.6 55.0 300 22 18.6 0.33 0.10 4.2
Kodo millet 9.8 3.6 3.3 5.2 66.6 353 35 1.7 0.15 0.09 2.0
 

MILLETS - UTILIZATION & VALUE ADDITION
Aparna Kuna, Manorama Kanuri & Anurag Chaturvedi
Department of Foods & Nutrition, Post Graduate & Research Centre
Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University, Hyderabad

 

Millets are high energy, nutritious foods recommended for the health and well-being of infants, lactating mothers, elderly, adolescents and convalescents. Efforts are being made to improve the consumption and utilization of millets through value addition using newer processing technologies. There is a need to revive and add value to the foods prepared from millets to promote large scale production and consumption for wider health benefits. 

Millets have good grain qualities suitable for processing. Processing of the grain for many end uses involves primary (wetting, dehulling and milling) and secondary (fermentation, malting, extrusion, flaking, popping and roasting) operations. Being a staple and consumed at household levels, processing must be considered at both traditional and industrial levels, involving small, medium and large-scale entrepreneurs. Some of the processing techniques are listed below.

Milling / Dehulling
The grains are moistened, conditioned and bran removed by an abrasive device in the mill. Milling should be regulated so that only the outermost layers are removed retaining the germ and aleurone layers. Processing of sorghum by dehulling reduces cooking time by 22-47%. In addition dehulling improves physical appearance and functional properties and also enhances both starch and protein digestibility by reducing tannin and fibre level. Though culinary uses of millets are limited, different types of breakfast food, snack food, baked food and premixes can be prepared using dehulled millets.

Puffing/Popping
Millets such as sorghum, bajra,and ragi can be popped and can be used in the preparation of weaning mix. The popped/puffed productshave low bulk density with pleasing texture and distinct flavour. Roasted puffed grains can be used as snack after spicing whereas the powdered product can be consumed in combination with otherflours and can be used to make sweet and savoury products.

Flaking
To achieve a good quality flattened product, the millet grains should be harvested slightly premature. The grains after partial roasting, are flattened in a flaking machine, dried, stored and usually deep fat fried before consumption as a snack. The dried millet flakes can be powdered and used as a weaning food.

Malting
Malting enhances the nutritional benefit and hence the process of malting is used often in the formulation of low cost weaning foods. Prior to malting, millets are washed 4 to 5 times, in running tap water (22-24°C) to remove foreign particles. Then grains are put in large nylon bags, closed with rubber bands and spin-dried to remove excess surface water. The steeped grains are germinated in the nylon bags. The malting bags are covered with wet cloth to maintain water saturation. The germinated grains are dried at 50°C for 24 hrs. in a hot air oven. Malted grains can be powdered and used in many recipes in combination with other cereal flours

Fermentation
Refined millet flours are rich in starch, so they serve as suitable substrates for fermentation. Fermented gruels, dosas, idlis, etc. can be made using millet flours and rawa. A millet gruel can be cooked and fermented or it may be fermented and subjected to heat treatments.

Beverages
Malting and fermentation result in malted and brewed products which are non-alcoholic or alcoholic depending on the needs. Malted pearl millet and finger millet are used in the brewing of traditional opaque beer in southern and eastern Africa. Finger millet makes the best quality malt used in both brewing industry and making of digestible nutritious foods.

     Though beverages are not major foods, they serve as a source of energy in several countries. Thin fermented porridges are commonly prepared and used as a drink in some countries. Traditional beverages made from millets are nutritionally superior as they provide additional riboflavin and thiamine.

Porridge
Porridges are the major foods in many Asian and African countries. They are either thick or thin in consistency. Fermented porridges also can be made from millets. The palatability and the texture of millet foods can be changed and their shelf-life can often be improved by fermenting them.

Breads and other baked products
Flat breads are made by baking batters made with flour and water on a hot pan or griddle. Almost any flour may be used. The batter can be based on sorghum or any other  millet and it may or may not be fermented. These flat breads are known by many local names: roti and chapatti in India, tuwo in parts of Nigeria, tortillas in Central America, etc.Unfermented breads include roti and tortillas. Roti and chapatti made from sorghum or millets are common foods in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Arab countries. More than 70 percent of sorghum grown in India is used for making roti.

Pasta and noodles
Pasta products (noodles) such as spaghetti and macaroni are usually made from semolina or from flour of durum wheat or common wheat or a mixture of both. Wheat has a unique property of forming an extensible, elastic and cohesive mass when mixed with water. Sorghum and millet flours lack these properties when used alone but we can make pasta from mixtures of sorghum with wheat. The pasta quality is influenced by the quality of both the sorghum flour and the starch. White sorghum is preferable for pasta products as its colour is similar to that of wheat flour. A composite flour consisting of 70 percent wheat and 30 percent sorghum produce acceptable pasta, and 80 percent wheat and 20 percent sorghum/millets produce acceptable noodles.

Weaning foods
Germinated sorghum flour, called "power flour", reduces the viscosity of the food product. It is thus possible to use double the quantity of flour to make a product of similar consistency, so the energy density of weaning foods can be increased. Sorghum and millets are used in weaning foods in countries such as Ethiopia, India, the United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda.
Use of sorghum- and millet-based weaning foods prepared using extrusion and malting techniques has been found successful. These foods have been promoted as high-energy or high-protein foods.

Extruded products
Extrusion is being used increasingly often for the manufacture of snack foods. In extrusion processes, cereals are cooked at high temperature for a short time. Starch is gelatinized and protein is denatured, which improves their digestibility. Anti-nutritional factors that are present may be inactivated. Microorganisms are largely destroyed and the product's shelf-life is thereby extended. The products are easily fortified with additives. Millets in combination with other cereal flours, pulses and legumes can be used to developed various kinds of Ready To Eat (RTE) and ready to cook extruded products.

Composite flours
Composite flour technology initially referred to the process of mixing wheat flour with cereal and legume flours for making bread and biscuits. However, the term can also be used in regard to mixing of non-wheat flours, roots and tubers, legumes or other raw materials. Diluting wheat flour with locally available millets is nutritionally desirable to encourage the agricultural sector and reduce wheat imports in many developing countries.

When sorghum or millets are used in composite flours for bread-making, addition of bread improvers or modification of the bread-making process is needed. A higher level of substitution is possible with hard than with soft wheat flour. For the production of biscuits from composite flours, the fat content of the non-wheat flour should be kept as low as possible to promote a longer shelf-life.Millet composite flour produces light, dry, delicate baked goods and a crust that is thin and buttery smooth. For yeast breads up to 30% millet flour may utilized, but it must be combined with glutinous flours to enable the bread to rise. For a delightful "crunch" in baked goods, the millet seeds may be added whole and raw before baking.

 

Millet sprouts & sandwiches
Millet may also be sprouted for use in salads and sandwiches.

Forms of utilization of millets in India (Traditional millet products)
 
FOOD PRODUCT TYPE FORM OF GRAIN USED
SORGHUM
Roti

Unleavened flat bread

Flour

Sangati

Stiff porridge

Mixture of coarse particles and flour

Annam

Rice-like

Dehulled grain

Kudumulu

Steamed

Flour

Dosa

Pancake

Flour

Ambali

Thin porridge

Flour

Boorelu

Deep fried

Flour

Pelapindi

Popped whole grain and flour

Mixture of coarse particles and flour

Karappoosa

Deep fried

Flour

Thapala chakkalu

Shallow fried

Flour

PEARL MILLET
Roti

Unleavened bread

Flour

Sangati

Stiff porridge

Mixture of coarse particles and flour

Annam

Rice-like

Dehulled grain

Kudumulu

Steamed

Flour

Boorelu

Deep fried

Flour

Dosa

Pancake

Flour

Thapala chakkalu

Shallow fried

Flour

Ambali

Thin porridge

Flour

FINGER MILLET
Sangati

Stiff porridge

Rice brokers and flour

Roti

Unleavened bread

Flour

Ambali

Thin porridge

Flour

PROSO MILLET
Annam

Rice-like

Dehulled grain

Muruku

Deep fried

Flour

Karappoosa

Deep fried

Flour

Ariselu

Deep fried

Flour

FOXTAIL MILLET
Annam

Rice-like

Dehulled grain

Ariselu

Deep fried

Flour

Sangati

Stiff porridge

Flour

Roti

Unleavened bread

Flour

Kodo millet

Annam

Rice-like

Dehulled grain

 

In our fast paced lives, where we need maximum fitness but really don’t have time to try innovative health recipes, the best and the easiest way to derive maximum benefit is by combining various millet flours with the standard wheat-soya flour mix to get the healthiest of foods. Refining whole wheat flour leaches out various nutrients and hence mixing other millet and pulse flours makes them wholesome. It is also a long term precautionary measure for obesity and lifestyle related health conditions.

As we have seen, millet is a highly nutritious, healthful and versatile grain that would be a worthy addition to anyone’s diet……

 
 

Millet Fest 2013

 
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