The No.1 Super Cereal The Current World of Diabetes And Cancer Needs Most

The No.1 Super Cereal The Current World of Diabetes And Cancer Needs Most

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It is a native crop of Uganda and Ethiopia and was introduced to India around 4000 years ago. It was the primary diet of Indians, especially in South India but disappearing fast from the menu. It is the sole reason for the healthy and strapping physiques of people in Uganda and southern Sudan despite having only one meal a day.

Meet Ragi or Finger Millet, the world’s no.1 super cereal.

A generation ago, many Indians, especially in the southern part of the country, were familiar with ragi or finger millet (Eleusine coracana L.). It is quite surprising and unfortunate that many people are not eating it now a days, considering the nutritive and therapeutic value of finger millet for the human body.

The farmer friendly crop

Finger millet is a very adaptable crop that is admirably suited to Indian climatic conditions, making it doubly significant. This crop doesn’t demand more water. It can be cultivated in any type land. It is a true friend of the farmer.

Finger Millet: A Brief History

Finger millet originated in Africa and has been cultivated for many thousands of years in Uganda and Ethiopia. In India, the crop was probably introduced 4000 years ago, and has been found in archeological excavations in the Harappan Civilization as well. The association of Ragi with Indian civilization is as old as the civilization itself.

Why Ragi (Finger Millet) is a Super Cereal?

Finger Millet must have been god given gift fot humanity. It’s usefulness to humanity is unexplicable in words. Here are 7 reasons why you should start taking finger millet in your diet.

#1 Ragi has high protein content

The grain’s protein content is comparable to that of rice. However, some ragi varieties have shown double that level. More importantly, this protein content is quite unique. The main protein fraction is eleusinin, which has a high biological value, meaning that it is easily incorporated into the body. There are also significant quantities of tryptophan, cystine, methionine and total aromatic amino acids. If that sounds too complicated, all you need to know is that these are considered crucial to human health, and that most cereals are deficient in these components. This high protein content makes finger millet a very important factor in preventing malnutrition. The cereal can be an especially good source of protein for vegetarians because of its methionine content that constitutes about 5% of the protein.

#2 Ragi is a rich source of minerals

Ragi is also a very rich source of minerals. It has been found to have between 5-30 times the calcium content found in other cereals. It is also rich in phosphorus, potassium and iron. Calcium is of course an important component in maintaining bone density and health. Thus, finger millet would be a healthier alternative to over-the-counter supplements, especially for people who might be at risk of osteoporosis or low hemoglobin levels.

The study, “The Lost Crops of Africa,” published by the United States National Academies sees finger millet as a potential “super cereal” and points out that “the world’s attitude towards finger millet must be reversed. Of all major cereals, this crop is one of the most nutritious.” The study notes that people in Uganda and southern Sudan have healthy, strapping physiques despite eating just one meal a day, and attributes this to finger millet.

#3 Ragi controls diabetes

The rapid rise in the prevalence of diabetes has led to a great demand for foods containing complex carbohydrates with high dietary fiber levels and beneficial phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are a varied group of chemical compounds derived from plants, which are considered to be important factors in our capacity to combat disease. All these components are usually found in the outer layer of the grain or the seed coat, and so, it is generally a good idea to consume whole grains.

Especially with finger millet, the grain’s seed coat is richer in polyphenols as compared to grains such as barley, rice, maize and wheat. For example, it has 40 times the phenolic content of rice and 5 times that of wheat. Among the millets, it is comparable to foxtail millet, and second only to kodo millet. Initial studies have also shown that finger millet controls blood glucose levels, and hyperglycemic and oxidative stress. Finger millet has also shown promise in accelerating wound healing among diabetics.

#4 Ragi has anti-microbial properties

Finger millet has been found to act against a number of bacteria including Bacillus cereus, which causes food poisoning, Salmonella sp., which causes a typhoid-like fever, and Staphylococcus aureus, one of the primary causes of skin and soft tissue infections such as abscesses, furuncles, and cellulitis.

#5 Ragi has anti-cancer potential

Finger millet is also rich in antioxidants, which have sort of become a byword in health books today. Antioxidants prevent excessive oxidation (how surprising!), which could otherwise cause cancer and ageing because of cell damage. The phenolic acids, flavonoids and tannins present in finger millet seed coats have very effective antioxidant properties. In general, it has been shown that people on millet-based diets have lower incidences of esophageal cancer than those on wheat or maize-diets.

#6 Ragi keeps you young

Aside from the phenolic content and antioxidants which are important factors in preventing ageing, finger millet and kodo millet have specifically shown potential in inhibiting cross-linking of collagen. Collagen cross-linking is the process by which cross-links form between or within collagen molecules in tendons, skin, and even blood vessels. Collagen is what gives tissues their elasticity, and cross-linking reduces this ability, leading to the stiffness commonly associated with age.

#7 Ragi reduces “bad” cholestrol, prevents cardiovascular disease

Emerging research has shown that finger millet has the potential to reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases. Technically speaking, finger millet reduces concentrations of serum triglycerides and inhibits lipid oxidation and LDL cholesterol oxidation. LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol is what is termed “bad” cholesterol and is especially troublesome when oxidized. Oxidized LDL inflames the arteries, leading to arteriosclerosis and the risk of heart attack or strokes.

Considering all these benefits, it is very surprising that in a world desperate for health foods and miracle cures, most people have never heard of ragi. In India, it is greatly neglected and fast disappearing. This is a sad state.

Soon we will be publishing Ragi based recipes which you can include in your diet plans. Watch out this space. And now go out and get some Ragi flour.

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