Health Benefits of Millet

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Health Benefits of Millet

Pearl millet also known as Bajra is one of the oldest millet used by our ancestors and is one of the most important cereal grow in tropical semi and regions of the world primarily in Asia and Africa. It is known to have a very high fiber. So there are many health benefits of millet.

Studies have shown that millets are excellent source of micronutrients like iron and zinc. It is also has certain ant-nutrient factors and inhibitors like phytic acid, polyphenols due to which the bio accessibility of iron and zinc is very low in pearl millet. Due to its potential health benefits it has now gained popularity, nutritionists and dieticians recommends it for the better health options. This article aims to show the potential health benefits of millet.


Health Benefits of Millet


Millets are widely grown cereal basically in semi-arid regions. These are important crops in the semi-arid tropics of Asia and Africa. The crop is highly preferred due to its productivity as they can grow in short duration and can tolerate high temperature dry conditions. They are capable to grow even in limited water resource.

There are several categories of millets. Millets are less preferred in developed countries where they are grown basically for bird feed while it is quite famous in several other parts of world as they serve immense health benefits. These crops are great sources of energy, protein, vitamins and minerals and even economical and can be afforded by millions of poor people.

What is pearl millet:

Pearl millet ids a high-energy cereal that contains carbohydrates, protein and fat. It is a rich source of vitamins B and A. It is high in calcium, iron and zinc and contains potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper and manganese.

Pearl millet is grown on a wide variety of soils that includes sandy, light textured soils and also can grow on acidic environment and infertile soils. Biology of pearl millet includes all the growth and development at each stage from germination to seed formation. These features include three well defined growth phases in millets and those are:

  • Vegetative
  • Reproductive and
  • Grain filling stage.

Processing of Millets:

processing of millets is usually done to improve the quality of the grains by converting them into edible form. Processing can be done in primary and secondary phase. Primary processing may include wetting, dehulling and milling while secondary processing includes methods such as fermentation, malting etc.

Primary Processing:

  • Wetting: It is a type of wet milling that consists of grinding of soaked grain and further separating it.
  • Dehulling: It is the process that includes removal of outer layer or the hull of grains along with pericarp.
  • Milling: The milling is the process that is done to separate two layers of seeds of pearl millets such as endosperm, bran and germ. This leads to decrease the particle size and hence fine flour can be made.

Secondary Processing:

  • Fermentation: Fermentation is a process that involves malting and souring with the cultures of yeast and bacteria Lactobacilli. Millets has starch and soluble which get destroyed by the enzymes during fermentation process.
  • Malting: Malting includes restricted sprouting of cereals in humid temperature along with set conditions. By protein content in the grains gets decreased significantly after malting. It also leads to certain positive factors such as improved protein quality and higher efficiency of protein.

Nutritional Value of Millets:

Pearl millet is the most widely grown type of millet in semi-arid regions. In pearl millet the starch content of the grain vary from 62.8 to 70.5%, soluble sugar 1.2 to 2.6% and amylose 21.9 to 28.8%. Pearl millet contains almost 9 to 13% protein, but to a large extent variation of 6 to 21% of protein content has also been observed.



Pearl millet is a rich source of energy 361 kcal/100g which is comparable with commonly consumed cereals such as wheat, rice as per the data of nutritive value of Indian foods. Pearl millets grains are known to have high nutritive value than those other major popular cereals like rice and wheat.


The amount of carbohydrate content in pearl millet is 67.5 g/100g, which is low when compared with wheat, rice and sorghum, while it has higher carbohydrate than maize as per Nutritive value of Indian foods. Pearl millets have starch content about 20 to 22% amylose, free sugars range from 2.6 to 2.8% of the grain. The main sugar in pearl millet is sucrose.


The content of protein in bajra is quite similar as in wheat is 11.8g/100g, which is comparably higher when compared with other cereals as per the data given in nutritive value of Indian foods. It has a better amino acid balance but is low in lysine, tryptophan, threonine and other sulfur-containing amino acids. Pearl millet is also high in crude protein.


Pearl millets are quite rich in fat that is 5mg/100g when compared to a variety of other grains, 75% fatty acids are unsaturated. While omega-3 fatty acid and linolenic acid altogether comprises of 4% of the total fatty acids in the cereal grain.

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Health Benefits of Millet:

Pearl millet offers numerous health benefits. It is high in calories, amino acids and vitamins and minerals. Due to this reason they are wonder food for every age group especially children and pregnant women.

Pearl Millet and Anemia:

Pearl millet contains 8 mg of iron and 3.1 mg of zinc per 100g hence, it helps in increasing the levels of hemoglobin. In a study, it was stated that the presence of some non-nutrients factors like tannins, phytates and polyphenols obstruct  the absorption of some nutrients such as iron, zinc and calcium. Thus it helps to keep the hemoglobin level in stable condition.

Millet and Cancer:

Pearl millet contains high level of antioxidants and anticancer property. Antioxidants such as phenolic compounds like the phenolic content are present in them. In a study it was found that the amount of phenols in pearl millet grains is 608.1 mg?100g and pearl millet flour is found to be 761 mg/100g. However, phenolic compound and flavonoids helps in inhibiting the process of tumor development. The entire pearl millet grain undergo the process of milling to obtain many products that provide several health benefits along with flavonoids and phenols that acts as antioxidants.

Millet and Diabetes:

Pearl millet has a very high amylase activity, about 10 times more than that of wheat. Maltose and D-ribose are the predominant sugars in the flour of millet. The levels of fructose and glucose are quite low. Dietary lifestyle is considered to be the main factor in the management of the diabetes mellitus and also in the case of noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus which is much more common : it is associated with unknown genetic factors and aging and is closely linked to the insulin resistance associated with adiposity. 

Several pearl millet based food products alone or in combination of other ingredients can be developed and several recipes including bajra are needed to be promoted for the diabetic patients.

Millet with Omega-3 fatty acids:

Pearl millet has excellent amount of omega-3 fatty acids as compared to other cereal gain. The presence of omega-3 fatty acids highlights its potential and acids in prevention and treatment of several diseases and disorders such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, arthritis and certain types of cancer. Fatty acids lead to reduction in the concentration of triglycerides in blood and further improve immune response, brain and eye function and also development and growth of infants and child.

Millet and allergies:

Pearl millet is a gluten free grain and is considered as the only grain that retains all its alkaline properties even after being cooked. This property is said to be ideal for people with wheat or gluten allergies. 

Pearl millet is also free gluten grain and is the only grain that retains its alkaline properties after being cooked which is ideal for people with wheat allergy. These combinations of flours could be used to produce good quality cookies that are acceptable and sensory qualities. These cookies are proven to benefit people suffering from gluten allergy and are also economical.


Pearl millet has gained immense fame these days due to its potential health benefits. There are so many health benefits of millet that Dieticians and Nutritionists try best to inculcate this miraculous millet into people’s life by modifying their dietary pattern and by educating the patients about the health benefits of millet. Pearl millets have potential health benefits along with several nutritional elements. pearl millet is also major staple food in many populations around the globe. Unique health foods as well as traditional foods made from pearl millet need to be promoted.

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