Everything you need to know about millets - Hindustan Times
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Everything you need to know about millets

Jan 23, 2024 11:27 PM IST

Not only do these help with countering the heat but also aid weight loss, better digestion, and in achieving an optimum intake of essential nutrients and fiber.

As the country continues to reel under a heat spell, the health risks associated with an increased body temperature call for summer-specific diet alterations. To combat these seasonal challenges, experts stress the importance of consuming 'cool foods' that can help regulate and bring down body temperature. Dominating this category this year are summer millets such as jowar, ragi, kodo, foxtail, and more. Not only do these help with countering the heat, but also aid weight loss, better digestion, and in achieving an optimum intake of essential nutrients and fiber.

Millets have, for long, been recognized as a superfood for their many health benefits.
Millets have, for long, been recognized as a superfood for their many health benefits.

Millets have, for long, been recognized as a superfood for their many health benefits. In fact, the United Nations has marked 2023 as the International Year for Millets. "But, not all millets can be consumed throughout the year, and it is important to learn about their summer and winter variants. For instance, bajra or maize have warming properties, so they should only be consumed in winter," cautions nutritionist Garima Goyal. Adding to this, nutritionist Shweta Shah says, "Summer millets, which include grains like jowar (sorghum), ragi (finger), foxtail (thinai), sama (barnyard), and kodari (kodo), are recommended for consumption from March to September, owing to their ability to regulate body temperature."

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The reason, Shah explains, is that these summer millets have "a high water content along with calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which contribute to their reputation as coolants." "They are also gluten-free, anti-inflammatory, prevent celiac disease, have good satiety signals and help us stay full for a longer period," she adds.

Heat and humidity can often lead to—or worsen—inflammation in the body. "But millets, which are a great source of antioxidants, can reduce this inflammation naturally," says Tanisha Bawa, a nutrition coach, and gut health expert. They can also ease digestion in a season when such issues are prevalent.

The health benefits of season-specific millets are aplenty, going beyond their cooling properties and nutrient content. Adding to the list, Goyal says, "Millets are a rich source of antioxidants, help reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in the body and also prevent plaque buildup in the arteries. Due to their fiber content, they are a great food for weight loss, too. In fact, the phytochemicals in summer millets help lower the formation of cancer cells in the colon, breast, and liver as well."

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