Food In Canada

Millet grains packed with health benefits

By Food in Canada magazine staff   

Research & Development

Researchers find that millet grains offer many health benefits but industry is missing a way to process the grain effectively

Beijing, China –  If we had the means to properly process millet grains, we could unlock a slew of health promoting components.

That’s according to recent findings by researchers at China Agricultural University in Beijing and Assiut University in Egypt, reports

According to the researchers, the potential health benefits of eating millet include:
• preventing cancer and cardiovascular diseases;
• reducing tumor incidence;
• lowering blood pressure, risk of heart disease, cholesterol and rate of fat absorption;
• delaying gastric emptying; and
• supplying gastrointestinal bulk.

Millet grains also have the potential to be useful in preventing diabetes and for treatment of diabetics, according to the review.


According to the researchers’ review, the industry needs novel processing and preparation methods to enhance the bioavailability of the micronutrients and to improve the quality of millet diets, reports The review is online in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety.

Annual world production of millet grains is 762,712 tonnes with India the top producer at 334,500 tonnes. Compared to other cereal grains, millet has shown resistance to pests, diseases and drought while having a short growing season.

Globally, households at the rural level in developing countries mainly use millet grains, according to the review.
“This is due to a lack of innovative millet processing technologies to provide easy-to-handle, ready-to-cook or ready-to-eat and safe products and meals at a commercial scale that can be used to feed large populations in urban areas,” say the researchers.

A need exists for innovative processing technologies for decortication (removing the cover), milling and other preparation treatments, reports A need also exists for a consistent supply of high-quality millet grains for industrial uses.

Millet comes in different forms

Millet comes in different forms, with each one having specific nutritional qualities. For example, pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) is rich in resistant starch, soluble fibre, insoluble fibre, minerals and antioxidants.

Amino acid profiles differ, too, says Finger millet (Eleusine coracana) contains more lysine, threonine and valine than other millets. Consumption of diets based on finger millet has resulted in significantly lower plasma glucose levels. The amino acid pattern of foxtail millet (Setaria italic), which is rich in lysine, suggests possible use as a supplementary protein source to most cereals.

In certain geographic areas people have incorporated millet into foods and beverages. It is used in porridges in Africa. In Nigeria, kunu is a nutritious beverage.

There is also potential for using millet in other food products, says Using millet in ready-to-eat breakfast cereals is possible say the researchers in their review. White proso millet (Penicum miliaceum) and foxtail millet have been used in flaked whole grain cereals. Incorporation into expanded cereals also is possible, but popped foxtail millet has significantly lower content of crude fat and crude fibre than raw millet while the carbohydrate and energy values are significantly higher.

Incorporating millet into bread or noodles may be more of a challenge since millet has no gluten. Millet may be used to replace a percentage of wheat flour in such applications.

Photo from theKitchn

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