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Nutri-cereals are nothing but millets which are traditional grains in Indian subcontinent and have a history of more than 5000 years.In 2018 government of India has renamed millets as nutri cereals as they provide all the nutrients required for normal functioning of human body.
By recognizing the importance of millets, Government of India has declared 2018 as the National Year of Nutri Cereals. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Council of the United Nations approved India’s proposal to observe the year 2023 as the International Year of Millets.
Need to observe international/national year of nutri cereals?
Government of India’s ministry of agriculture and farmer welfare observed that the millets cultivation in India has declined due to change in eating habits and non availability of millets, as result of this the levels of proteins,vitamins, minerals and iron has been decreased in women and children.
Nutri-cereals were important crops in the country with higher area coverage as compared to wheat and rice before green revolution period. After launching green revolution, the area of nutri-cereals drastically reduced due to shifting of irrigated area from nutri-cereals to more remunerative crops like rice, wheat and sugarcane.
In 2016-17, the area under millets stood at 14.72 million hectares, down from 37 million hectares 1965-66, prior to the pre-green revolution era.
Properties of Nutri cereals-
- drought resistance
2. pest resistance
3. survive in harsh environment
4. survive in less fertile soil
5. gluten free
Nutritional value of Nutri-cereals-
The millet grain contains about 65% carbohydrate, a high proportion of which is in the form of non-starchy polysaccharides and dietary fiber, which help in prevention of constipation, lowering of blood cholesterol and slow release of glucose to the blood stream during digestion.
Millets are rich sources of insoluble (IDF) and soluble (SDF) dietary fiber
The average protein content of millet is reported to be from 7.7-11.8%.Millets generally contain significant amounts of essential amino acids, particularly sulphur containing amino acids (methionine and cysteine)
Millet grains are also rich in important vitamins; Thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid and niacin.
Millets contain substantial quantities of several minerals, including calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium.
Some commonly used Nutri cereals–
- Largest portion of sorghum protein is prolamin which has a unique feature of lowering digestibility upon cooking which might be a health benefit for certain dietary groups.
- It is rich in potassium, phosphorus and calcium with sufficient amounts of iron, zinc and sodium.
Pearl Millet (Bajra)
- Pearl millet contains considerably high proportion of proteins (12-16%), 11.5% of dietary fibre and lipids (4-6%).
- The dietry fibre content increases transit time of food in the gut. Hence, reduce risk of inflammatory bowel disease.
- The niacin content in pearl millet is higher than all other cereals.
Finger Millet (Ragi)
- Finger millet is the richest source of calcium (300-350 mg/100 g)
- Ragi has the highest mineral content.
- Finger millet proteins are unique because of the sulphur-rich amino acid contents.
- It has high antioxidant activity.
Foxtail millet (Kakum)
- It is high in carbohydrates
- It contains minerals such as copper & iron.
- Most digestible and non-allergic grains.
Kodo millets (Kodon)
- It has high protein content (11%), low fat (4.2%) and very high fibre content (14.3%)
- rich in B vitamins especially niacin, pyridoxin and folic acid as well as the minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc.
- It contains a high amount of lecithin and is excellent for strengthening the nervous system
Health Benefits of Millets?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, where the immune system starts attacking normal tissue, particularly the inner lining tissue of the small intestine, in response to eating gluten, the wheat protein.As millets are gluten free hey will not trigger the immune system to attack normal tissue.
Millets have high fibre content which slows down the process of digestion and releases sugar in the blood stream more evenly.which in turn avoids the spike in sugar levels in type-2 diabetes.
Millets are rich in dietary fiber and has unique physical and chemical characteristics like bulk to the diet, viscosity, water holding and absorption capacity which determine the subsequent physiological behaviour. The diet with high dietary fibre reduces the risk of over eating, this will help in weight loss.
- Magnesium in the millets is capable of reducing the effect of migraine and hear attack.
- Phytic acid the phyto chemical in millets is known for lowering cholesterol.
- Tannin in the millet is also helps in lowering cholesterol.
Millet is abundant in dietary fiber which will reduce constipation.
The other side of coin-
Millets have many nutrients and those are beneficial to health, but it also contains anti-nutrients .
Anti-nutrients are the compounds which interferes with the body’s absorption capacity which will lead to nutrient deficiency.
Different anti-nutrients in millets-
- Phytic acid- interferes with potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium uptake.
- Goitrogenic polyphenols-it may interferes with the normal functioning of Thyroid causing goiter.
Furthermore, we can decrease millet’s anti-nutrient content significantly by
- soaking it overnight at room temperature
- draining and rinsing it before cooking (4).
- sprouting reduces antinutrient content.
In today’s modern world nutri cereals have huge potential to keep us healthy.it is beneficial to not only consumer but also to the farmer due to its drought and pest resistant character. we need to encourage farmers for millets cultivation but at the same time we have to create awareness among the consumer.so at last we can say that nutri cereals are the WONDER GRAINS.