Climate Smart Foods: Nutritional Composition and Health Benefits of Millets
Issue: 2023 - Volume 13 [Issue 11]
KVK Sonbhadra, Acharya Narendra Deva University of Agriculture and Technology, Ayodhya-224229, India.
Jagrani Hospital, Kalyanpur, Lucknow-226022, India.
Prabhat Kumar Singh
KVK Sonbhadra, Acharya Narendra Deva University of Agriculture and Technology, Ayodhya-224229, India.
KVK Bijnor, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel University of Agriculture and Technology, Meerut-250110, India.
Omkar Singh *
Department of Soil Science, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel University of Agriculture and Technology, Meerut-250110, India.
*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Millets are a diverse group of small-seeded grasses that have served as staple cereal crops in many parts of Asia and Africa for thousands of years. The major millets include finger millet, foxtail millet, pearl millet, proso millet, barnyard millet, little millet, and kodo millet. Millets are highly resilient crops that can thrive in arid zones and marginal farming conditions where rainfall is limited. As climate change increases drought pressures globally, millets are gaining renewed interest for their adaptability. Millets also possess highly favorable nutritional attributes. The grains are rich in protein with balanced amino acids, dietary fiber, polyphenols, vitamins, and essential minerals such as iron, zinc and calcium. The majority of millets have a low glycemic index, which helps regulate blood glucose levels. These properties give millets functional advantages over more commonly consumed cereals such as wheat and rice. This review provides a detailed analysis of the proximate composition, nutritional profile, and potential health benefits of major millets. Evidence from animal studies and clinical trials regarding the role of millets in diabetes management, cardiovascular health, cancer prevention, gut health, anemia reduction, and bone health are examined. Millets appear beneficial for weight management and obesity control Research also indicates promising avenues for millets in gluten-free diets, enhancing nutrition security for the poor, and addressing malnutrition concerns globally. However, more human studies on bioavailability, optimal dosages, food product development, and farming practices are warranted to further realize the immense potential of these “Smart Foods”. In conclusion, millets are climate-smart, nutrient-dense grains that can play a pivotal role in holistic approaches to tackle food insecurity, malnutrition, and the escalating rates of chronic diseases worldwide. Their diverse nutritional and therapeutic properties warrant the resurrection of millets as invaluable crops for the present and future.
Keywords: Climate change, glycemic index, malnutrition, millets, nutrition security
How to Cite
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. (2019). The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019. FAO, Rome.
Chandrasekara A, Shahidi F. Determination of antioxidant activity in free and hydrolyzed fractions of millet grains and characterization of their phenolic profiles by HPLC-DAD-ESI-MS n. Journal of Functional Foods. 2011;3(3):144-158.
Gulia N, Dhaka V, Khatkar BS. Instant noodles: processing, quality, and nutritional aspects. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2014; 54(10):1386-1399.
Thakur V, Tanwar B, Aggarwal A, Kumar A, Sharma A, Rani S. Nutraceutical importance of sorghum: A review. Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry. 2017;6:131-5.
Chandrasekara A, Naczk M, Shahidi F. Antiproliferative potential and DNA scission inhibitory activity of phenolics from whole millet grains. Journal of Functional Foods. 2012;4(1):159-170.
Shobana S, Krishnaswamy K, Sudha V, Malleshi NG, Anjana RM, Palaniappan L, Mohan V. Finger millet (Ragi, Eleusine coracana L.): a review of its nutritional properties, processing, and plausible health benefits. Advances in Food and Nutrition Research. 2013;69:1-39.
Shukla K, Srivastava S. Evaluation of finger millet incorporated noodles for nutritive value and glycemic index. Journal of food science and technology. 2014;51(9):1697-1702.
Samtiya M, Aluko RE, Dhaka N, Dhewa T, Puniya AK. Nutritional and health-promoting attributes of millet: current and future perspectives. Nutr Rev. 2023;81(6): 684-704.
DOI: 10.1093/nutrit/nuac081. PMID: 36219789.
Mbithi-Mwikya S, Van Camp J, Yiru Y, Huyghebaert A. Nutrient and antinutrient changes in finger millet (Eleusine coracana) during sprouting. LWT-Food Science and Technology. 2000; 33(1):9-14.
Devi PB, Vijayabharathi R, Sathyabama S, Malleshi NG, Priyadarisini VB. Health benefits of finger millet (Eleusine coracana L.) polyphenols and dietary fiber: a review. Journal of Food Science and Technology. 2014;51(6):1021-1040.
Obilana AB, Manyasa E. Millets. Pseudo cereals and less common cereals: grain properties and utilization potential Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. 2002;177-217.
Rao S, Muralikrishna G. Evaluation of the antioxidant properties of free and bound phenolic acids from native and malted finger millet (ragi, Eleusine coracana Indaf-15). Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2002;50(4):889-892.
Atkinson FS, Foster-Powell K, Brand-Miller JC. International tables of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2008. Diabetes Care. 2008;31(12):2281-2283.
Anderson JW, Baird P, Davis Jr RH, Ferreri S, Knudtson M, Koraym A. Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutrition Reviews. 2009;67(4):188-205.
Saleh ASM, Zhang Q, Chen J, Shen Q. Millet grains: nutritional quality, processing, and potential health benefits. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. 2013; 12(3):281-295.
Edeogu CO, Ezeonu FC, Ekuma CE, Ezeanyika LUS, Ukpabi J. Proximate composition of staple food crops in Ebonyi State (South Eastern Nigeria). International Journal of Biotechnology and Allied Fields. 2007;2(2):215-219.
Viswanath V, Urooj A, Malleshi NG. Evaluation of antioxidant and antimicrobial properties of finger millet polyphenols (Eleusine coracana). Food Chemistry. 2009;114(1):340-346.
Kumari S, Sumathi S. Effect of consumption of finger millet on hyperglycemia in non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) subjects. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. 2002;57(3): 205-213.
Shobana S, Harsha MR, Platel K, Srinivasan K, Malleshi NG. Amelioration of hyperglycaemia and its associated complications by finger millet (Eleusine coracana L.) seed coat matter in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. British Journal of Nutrition. 2010;104(12):1787-1795.
Anju T, Sarita S. Effect of finger millet (Eleucine coracana) on serum thyroid, cholesterol and phospholipid levels in hypercholesterolemic rats. Journal of Food Biochemistry. 2010;34(1):42-53.
Hegde PS, Rajasekaran NS, Chandra TS. Effects of the antioxidant properties of millet species on oxidative stress and glycemic status in alloxan-induced rats. Nutrition research. 2005; 25(12):1109-1120.
Lee SH, Chung IM, Cha YS, Park Y. Millet consumption decreased serum concentration of triglyceride and C-reactive protein but not oxidative status in hyperlipidemic rats. Nutrition Research. 2010;30(4):290-296.
Prasad K. Oxidative stress as a mechanism of diabetes in diabetic BB prone rats: effect of secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG isolated from flaxseed). Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. 2011;353(1):247-251.
Towo E, Matuschek E, Svanberg U. Fermentation and enzyme treatment of tannin sorghum gruels: effects on phenolic compounds, phytate and in vitro accessible iron. Food Chemistry. 2006; 94(3):369-376.
Wu GY, Li SM, Li GY, Gao JL, Lu X, Li ZZ, Shan AS. Effects of germination on the nutritive value and bioactive compounds of brown rice breads. Journal of Food Science and Technology. 2015; 52(5):2746-2753.
Oguntunde AO. The inhibitory potential of Nigerian millet polyphenols on key enzymes linked to type-2 diabetes and hypertension. Preventive Nutrition and Food Science. 2019;24(2):105.
Muguli G, Kagwiria R, Karumuna B, Ndungu B, Kamau R. Effect of consuming finger millet on faecal microbiota: a randomized three-month cross-over study. Journal of Applied Biosciences. 2017; 108:10781-10790.
Shanmugam KR, MallikarjunaKasi A, Kesavan R, Sathyamoorthi K, Ilango K, Chandra BS. Neuroprotective effect of C-phycocyanin, a biliprotein from Spirulina platensis, against 3-nitropropionic acid-induced oxidative stress in rat striatum. Neurochemistry International. 2011;59(2): 256-264.
McLean E, Cogswell M, Egli I, Wojdyla D, De Benoist B. Worldwide prevalence of anaemia, WHO Vitamin and Mineral Nutrition Information System, 1993–2005. Public health nutrition. 2009;12(4):444-454.
Ambula MK, Odhiambo JF, Ogle B, Hakansson NT. The effects on haematological indices in rats and pigs of feeding millet and sorghum diets containing different levels of iron and phytic acid. Animal Feed Science and Technology. 2001;92(3-4):183-194.
Kodkany BS, Bellad RM, Mahantshetti NS, Westcott JE, Krebs NF, Kemp JF, Hambidge KM. Biofortification of pearl millet with iron and zinc in a randomized controlled trial increases absorption of these minerals above physiologic requirements in young children. The Journal of Nutrition. 2013;143(9):1489-1493.
Cercamondi CI, Egli IM, Ahouandjinou E, Dossa R, Zeder C, Salami L, Hurrell RF. Afebrile Plasmodium falciparum parasitemia decreases absorption of fortification iron but does not affect systemic iron utilization: a double stable-isotope study in young Beninese women. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2013;97(2):438-444.
Kumar A, Metwal M, Kaur S, Gupta AK, Puranik S, Singh S, Gupta S. Nutraceutical value of finger millet [Eleusine coracana (L.) Gaertn.], and their improvement using omics approaches. Frontiers in Plant Science. 2010;11:934.
Hadimani NA, Malleshi NG, Ali SZ. Studies on milling, physico-chemical properties, nutrient composition and dietary fiber content of millets. Journal of Food Science and Technology-Mysore. 2001;38(2):135-138.
Kumar RS, Hemalatha S, Nilegaonkar SS. Development and quality evaluation of foxtail millet based gluten free muffins. LWT-Food Science and Technology. 2016;74:119-124.
Kim JH, Park HJ, Yang JH, Chang MJ, Lee Y. Effect of replacement of rice with foxtail millet on the diets of the carbohydrate metabolism related type 2 diabetes. Journal of Korean Diabetes Association. 2016;40(1):36.
Taylor JR, Novakofski J, Bechtel P. Gluten-free diet: Implications for athletes. Strength & Conditioning Journal. 2006; 28(2):65-70.
Lestienne I, Icard-Vernière C, Mouquet C, Picq C, Trèche S. Effects of soaking whole cereal and legume seeds on iron, zinc and phytate contents. Food Chemistry. 2005;89(3):421-425.
Mamiro PS, Kolsteren P, Roberfroid D, Tatala S, Opsomer AS, Van Camp JH. Feeding practices and factors contributing to wasting, stunting, and iron-deficiency anaemia among 3-23-month old children in Kilosa district, rural Tanzania. Journal of Health, Population, and Nutrition. 2001; 222-230.
Platel K, Eipeson SW, Srinivasan K. Bioaccessible mineral content of malted finger millet (Eleusine coracana), wheat (Triticum aestivum), and barley ( Hordeum vulgare). Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2010;59(8):4100-4103.
Hunt JR, Zito CA, Johnson LK. Iron absorption, bioavailability, and dietary reference intakes. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology. 2009;23(3):142-156.
Lee SH, Park HJ, Chun HK, Cho SY, Cho SM, Lillehoj HS. Dietary phytic acid lowers the blood glucose level in diabetic KK mice. Nutrition Research. 2006;26(9):474-479.
Mariotti M, Lucisano M, Pagani MA, Ng PK. The role of corn starch, amaranth flour, pea isolate, and psyllium flour on the rheological properties and the ultrastructure of gluten-free doughs. Food Research International. 2009;42(8):963-975.
Sharma P, Gujral HS, Rosell CM. Effects of roasting on barley β-glucan, thermal, textural and pasting properties. Journal of Cereal Science. 2011;53(1):25-30.