Eating millet, a tiny yellow seed grain, may improve your overall well-being by providing nutrients essential for your health. The small whole grain has a slightly nutty flavor. You can prepare it in a similar manner as rice or quinoa, by simmering the grain in water and then covering it and allowing it to absorb the water. The result is a fluffy, nutritious grain that you can turn into a side dish or entree.
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Vegetarian Protein Source
Millet provides you with a good source of vegetarian protein. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1 cup of cooked millet gives you 6 grams of protein. If you're following a vegetarian diet or simply trying to reduce your meat intake, millet is a good high-protein, low-fat addition to your pantry. However, millet does not contain all the essential amino acids that your body needs in adequate amounts. Pairing it with beans, such as making a millet and garbanzo bean salad, will give you all the amino acids your body needs to assemble proteins.
Contains Vitamins and Minerals
Adding millet to your diet also helps create variety in your nutrient intake. It's a good source of B vitamins, which aid in energy metabolism, enzyme activity, nervous system regulation and red blood cell production. You'll get the minerals magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese from millet. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, magnesium is the most abundant mineral in your body and plays a part in over 300 enzyme reactions in your body. It's also essential for proper muscle and nerve function.
Eating millet may help to reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases. According to a study published in the "Indian Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics" in February 2009, millet contains significant amounts of phenols. These compounds function as antioxidants that help prevent oxidative stress and damage in your body caused by harmful free radicals. A diet high in antioxidants may help to prevent degenerative diseases such as heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis and diabetes, according to a 2005 article in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition."
If you're following a gluten-free diet due to celiac disease, a wheat allergy or gluten intolerance, millet is a safe grain for you to consume. Cutting out gluten, the protein found in the grains wheat, rye and barley, can be challenging at first. Hearty grains, such as millet, are an easy and filling alternative to gluten-containing pastas and bread products. You can also purchase or grind your own millet flour to use in gluten-free baking. It provides extra nutrition and flavor to breads, muffins and cereals.
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Millet, Cooked
- Whole Grains Council: Millet and Teff -- November Grains of the Month
- American Cancer Society: Vitamin B Complex
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Magnesium
- Indian Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics: Antioxidant Activity of Commonly Consumed Cereals, Millets, Pulses and Legumes in India
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Polyphenols: Antioxidants and Beyond