Finger Millet ,scientifically known as Eleusine coracana , and popularly known as Ragi in Southern India and as Nachni in Northern India has several health benefits. It is a staple food of southern India. Finger miller or Ragi actually originated in Africa and has been cultivated in Ethiopia and Uganda since thousands of years. This Super Cereal is highly nutritious due to its high content of calcium (0.38%), dietary fiber (18%) and phenolic compounds (0.3–3%) and can help control diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, etc. in addition, millets, as they do not contain gluten and hence are advisable for celiac patients. The red seed coat of the millet is an edible component of the kernel and is a rich source of phytochemicals, such as dietary fiber and polyphenols (0.2–3.0%).Finger Millet is underutilised in many developed countries even though this whole grain is highly nutritious and can grow in high altitudes and under hardy and drought conditions when major cereals cannot be relied upon to provide sustainable yields.
Health Benefits of Finger Millet / Ragi
Finger Millet/Ragi is rich source of calcium and other minerals:
Finger Millet is a rich source of minerals like calcium, iron, phosphorus and potassium. Calcium is important for the health of our bones and teeth and helps in preventing Osteoporosis. Finger millet has the highest calcium content among all cereals (344 mg/100 g). Iron deficiency can lead to anaemia and low haemoglobin levels . The deficiency of calcium and iron can be overcome by introducing finger millet in our daily diet. Finger millet is great gluten free source of protein and calcium and hence are advisable for celiac patients.
Loaded with Amino acids:
The protein in Finger millet is mainly the function of essential amino acid that a human body needs. Finger millet contains 44.7% essential amino acids of the total amino acids. It contains amino acids like Lucine, Lysine, Valine, Tryptophan, threonine and Methionine.
Finger millet has high antimicrobial and antifungal properties due to the high polyphenols content in Millets seed coat. Finger Millets has been found to act against variety of bacteria like Bacillus cereus, Salmonella sp. and Staphylococcus aureus.
Antioxidant properties :
Finger Millets contain antioxidants which significantly prevent tissue damage and stimulate the wound healing process. Oxidative stress is the underlying cause of many of the chronic degenerative diseases like cancer. Antioxidants neutralizes free radicals and thus prevents oxidative stress which is the cause of cancer , aging and metabolic diseases. Research has established that phytates, polyphenols and tannins in the millets have antioxidant properties.
Anti-diabetic properties :
High intake of food containing complex carbohydrates with high dietary fibre content and phytochemicals can help control diabetes and for reducing chronic vascular complications . Studies have shown that the carbohydrates present in finger millet are slowly digested and assimilated than those present in other cereals. The Finger millet diet is known for high sustaining power and is usually recommended for diabetics as it protects against hyperglycemic and oxidative stress. It reduces complication of diabetes and aging due to presence of free radicals. As per vivo studies, Finger millet feeding controls blood glucose level, improve antioxidant status and fastens the wound healing process in diabetic rats.
Helps in Weight loss:
Finger Millet has complex carbohydrates and high dietary fiber content . This Super cereal get digested slowly and helps us to avoid excess calories in by keeping us full for long time.
Prevents cardiovascular diseases:
Studies have shown that Finger millet helps in lowering the concentrations of serum triglycerides, and in addition , the phenolic extracts in finger millets inhibits LDL cholesterol oxidation. Thus finger millet may prevent cardiovascular disease by reducing plasma triglycerides.