Foxtail millet is one among the several millets which are gaining a lot of popularity these days due to its several benefits on your diet. However, these are not a newly found grain, these were cultivated in parts of East Asia since antiquity. In several parts of India, China and parts of Africa these were widely used as part of their daily diet, but due to subsidizing of rice a lot of them switched to rice and hence the production of foxtail millets have decreased over time.
However, due to recent spotlight on millets for being a healthy superfood, more people have started incorporating foxtail millets into their diets. And it surely deserves the spotlight that it has, along with having a good nutritional profile it is also considered to be one of the most digestible and non-allergic grains available. It is also naturally gluten-free.
You might know foxtail millet with the following names : Tamil: Thinai, Telugu: Kirra , Malayalam: Thinna, Kannada: Navane, Hindi: Kangni
5 Key Benefits of having Foxtail Millets in your diet
1. Has a low Glycemic Index – helps you in controlling diabetics
Low glycemic index foods have been found to reduce hunger and increase satiety, improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood glucose levels after their consumption. So any food with a low glycemic index will get digested and absorbed by the body slowly, lowering the blood glucose and indirectly, insulin levels. This is great for anyone who is trying to control their diabetics through their diet. That also means that you’ll not feel hungry within 2 hours of your meal. Lower the GI (Glycemic Index) the better it is for your body.
Foxtail millet is said to have a very low glycemic index of 47.89 according to International Journal of Recent Scientific Research. This is so low compared to say rice which has a GI of about 73 and wheat has a GI of 63. Also, millet protein can increase insulin sensitivities and reduce blood glucose levels as well as triglyceride levels. So, if you can benefit a great deal by replacing rice with foxtail millet in your daily cooking.
2. High in Protein
When compared to most other grains, Foxtail millet has a high amount of protein in it. 100g of foxtail millet has about 12.3g of protein, which is almost double as the amount present in rice (6.8g per 100g). With 12.3g of protein, it’s among the highest among all the millets as well, with Proso millet being slightly higher at 12.5g.
Although its a good source of protein, it’s not a complete protein because it doesn’t contain enough of one amino acid: lysine. Lentils and beans are a good source of lysine, so if you include them as part of your meal you will be having a dish with good quality protein. Here is a list of foods having high lysine and for the vegetarians/vegans here are some great options.
3. Its an Alkaline food
An alkaline diet is consuming more food with a higher pH and lesser acidic food. This way of eating helps your body to more easily maintain an optimal pH balance. Eating too much acidic food can result in health problems caused by acidosis, while a diet high in alkaline foods can lead to healthier functioning and even weight loss. It’s harder for the disease to establish itself when the body has a healthy, balanced pH level. The best ratio for a healthy diet tends to be 60-80% alkaline foods and 20-40% acidic foods.
Meat, eggs, peanuts, caffeine, alcoholic beverages, dairy are generally considered to be acidic food, whereas fruits, vegetables, most legumes are considered alkaline. Foxtail millet is highly alkaline making it easily digestible and soothing for the stomach.
4. Rich in Fibre
Fibre plays an essential role in your digestive system and health in general. It may also improve blood sugar control since it slows down the body’s breakdown of carbohydrates and absorption of sugar. Eating fibre rich food also helps in controlling weight because fibres give you a feeling of fullness and hence you tend to not overeat.
With 8g of fibre per 100g of foxtail millet, it’s pretty high in fibre. To give you a comparison, white rice has about 0.8g of fibre per 100g.
5. High in Antioxidant
The abundance of antioxidants, mainly (Tryptophan and amino acids) in Foxtail Millet helps in fighting damage-causing free radicals and reducing oxidative stress. It also helps in relieving stress-related ailments like anxiety, hypertension, depression, and headaches. It works amazingly in relieving sleep disorders like Insomnia along with cerebral pains and Migraine.
How to prepare Foxtail Millet / Recipes
Foxtail Millet can easily be cooked as porridge for healthy breakfast or you could add raw millet into any of your baking like muffins, bread for that extra crunch. Use Foxtail millet to thicken soups, or as a base for warm grain salads in place of brown rice.
There is no hard and fast rule while using Foxtail millet, you can use it as a substitute for rice/wheat in any of your regular dishes and make it a healthier meal. Remember, foxtail is more filling than rice, so you might want to reduce the quantity a bit when substituting.
If you still need more ideas, here are a couple of yummy recipes using foxtail millet.
Foxtail Millet Upma / Navane Upma
Foxtail Millet Pulao
How many of you have already started including millets like Foxtail in your diet?