Millets, which have recently been re-branded as nutricereals, are small seed grasses that are gluten-free and rich in nutrients, fibre, vitamins and protein. They are a true superfood. Scientists at the Indian Institute of Millets have proven them to boost and maintain immunity.
Millets are affordable, accessible and can grow in the harshest weather, with very little water. A variety of millets grow in India. From the common ones like jowar, ragi, bajra to the lesser-known ones like foxtail, barnyard, proso, kodo, little millet... they should be a part of your diet.
Here is why.
They are high in protein. To build immunity, the body needs protein. A steady consumption of millets rich in Vitamin A helps build immunity. They contain other significant micronutrients too. Finger millet contains double the amount of calcium found in milk, which is especially beneficial for people following plant-based diets. Think of calcium as a GPS marker that marks the virus or bacteria in the body, so that the immune system can locate it and destroy it.
They contain zinc, copper and selenium. Zinc is considered an essential micronutrient that is required to maintain the immune functions in the body, in addition to the production of new immune system cells. It is also responsible for reducing pneumonia. Copper and selenium aid in the same. Pearl Millet has the highest iron content amongst all cereals.
They are rich in Vitamin B9
or folic acid. Millets also have Vitamin D, which modulate innate and adaptive immune responses.
Soaking, fermenting, and malting millets enhance the bioavailability of micronutrients available in them and help in better absorption by the body. You can start by making rotis with 50 percent millet flour and 50 percent wholewheat flour, or put them in salads. You can also eat them in the place of rice twice or thrice a week or make a millet porridge.
The author is a wellness enthusiast and founder of a gluten-free and vegan dessert brand, House of Millets, Mumbai