Which Millet is Best for Diabetes? (with Glycemic Index)

Millets are tiny grains with a hard outer covering of husk. They are easy to grow, mainly because they can flourish in less fertile soil and with water requirements.

Jowar, Bajra, and Ragi have been the most popular millets of all time. The husk of these millets is easily digestible. It does not need to be removed.

Which Millet is Best for Diabetes?

A study found that people with type 2 diabetes who eat foxtail millet had a reduction in blood sugar levels by 19%. Besides, fasting plasma levels and levels of triglycerides were also lowered by 13%.

Apart from this, foxtail millet also helps to exercise good glycemic control and reduce cardiovascular diseases.

Barnyard millet is another diabetes-friendly variety that is low in calories and high in fibers. It is also a potent source of iron.

You can also include bajra and little millet in your diabetes diet due to their high fiber content.

Veggie causing Diabetes

In short, here are the three excellent millet choices for individuals with diabetes:

  1. Foxtail millet
  2. Barnyard millet
  3. Little millet

What is the Glycemic Index of Millets?

It is the glycemic index of millets that determines whether you can consume it during diabetes or not. The majority of millet varieties have a glycemic index in the range of 54-68. This means that the glycemic index score of millets is moderately high.

A GI score of more than 70 is dangerously high. Such foods raise blood sugar levels aggressively and end up harming the health of diabetes patients.

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Here is a table describing the glycemic index of each type of millets

Type of MilletGlycemic Index Score
Pearl millet54
Finger millet104
Foxtail millet59
Sorghum70
Barnyard millet50
Little millet52
Proso millet50-64
Kodo millet58-67

Are Millets Good for Diabetes?

Millets provide countless benefits to everyone, and for diabetics, they are indeed a blessing.

Millets are good for diabetes due to three dominant reasons-

  1. They comprise non-starch carbohydrates
  2. They have surplus amounts of fibers
  3. They are low GI foods

Millets contain complex carbs, which are ‘good’ kinds of carbs. These carbs do not propel blood sugar to rise to a dangerous extent.

Further, millets fall into the category of low GI foods. They are not likely to intensify the amount of glucose in the blood.

A study was conducted to comprehend the effects of millets after eating meals. The results were delightful as they revealed that these grains could enkindle a reduction in postprandial blood sugar levels. Furthermore, depletion in cholesterol and lessening of insulin resistance was also observed.

What are the Health Benefits of consuming Millets?

We have many reasons to embrace millets. Due to the fantastic benefits they have got, they deserve to be a part of your diet.

1. Best Gluten-free Alternative

People with celiac disease or gluten intolerance often find it hard to find promising rice, wheat, and barley alternatives. Due to their gluten-free nature, millets perfectly resonate with the diet requirements of such people.

Sometimes, millets available in the market are manually fortified with gluten. Hence, always look for a gluten-free label before buying millets from the stores.

2. Reservoir of Antioxidants

Millets are naturally stuffed with robust antioxidants that protect the body in a variety of ways.  From eradicating oxidative stress to preventing metal poisoning, they will help you tackle several health issues.

They are blessed with healing, anti-inflammatory, and skin-protecting properties. Among all the known millet varieties, finger millets and foxtail millets are the richest sources of antioxidants.

3. Lowers Cholesterol

It is the potential of soluble fibers present in millets that diminish levels of cholesterol in the body. The proteins in millets also work towards reducing the triglyceride count.

A study finds that people who eat millets have the right amount of adiponectin hormone in their bodies. This hormone stimulates the oxidation of fats, leading to increased ‘good’ cholesterol levels and ensures better heart functioning.

What are the common types of Millets?

  1. Pearl millet (bajra)
  2. Finger millet (ragi)
  3. Foxtail millet (Korra/Navane)
  4. Little millet (sama)
  5. Sorghum (jowar)
  6. Kodo (haarka)
  7. Proso millet (chena)
  8. Barnyard millet (Sanwa)

Pearl millets are the most widely eaten with tones of health-friendly attributes. Finger millets are the richest in calcium content, while little millet has the lowest GI score.

What is the Nutritional value of Millets?

Millets are whole grains. All whole grains are highly nutritious.

They are loaded with an abundance of fibers along with the goodness of vitamins and minerals. Millets contain complex carbohydrates that don’t deteriorate blood sugars.

You will also harness the protein and antioxidant potential residing in millets. They offer more perks than any other whole-grain cereal.

A bowl of 100 grams of millets is likely to contain-

Energy173 calories
Carbohydrates41 grams
Fibers2.2 grams
Proteins6 grams
Fats1.7 grams
Potassium108 milligrams
Magnesium77 milligrams
Calcium13% of the daily value
Phosphorous25% of the daily value
Folate8% of the daily value
Iron6% of the daily value

How to Consume Millets in Diabetes?

Millets are the best substitutes for rice. They are healthier than rice from a diabetes perspective.

To prepare them, soak the raw millets in water overnight.

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When you are ready to cook them the next day, add water twice the quantity of grains. For instance, add 2 cups of water if you are cooking with 1 cup of grains.

Once they start boiling, let them simmer for 20 minutes.

You can also consume millet as flour. Chapatis made with bajra flour have been a part of Indian tradition for ages. Dosa made with jowar and ragi have also captivated people’s interest.

You are not going to struggle to involve millet in your weekly meal plans. From idli to Pongal, salad to upma, and many more, millets take the form of any dish we want them to be.

Precautions on eating millets, if you have Diabetes

Always give preference to unpolished millets over polished forms while purchasing. Unpolished millets are the ones in which the outer layer remains intact; it is not removed.

This is because all the fiber content resides in the outer bran layer. Polished millets with de-husked grains confer lesser health benefits.

Concluding Words

If millets are not a part of your diet, you are missing out a lot. Don’t let your body lag in nutrition.

Millets are low in the glycemic index as well as glycemic load. All the varieties are safe to be eaten by diabetics.

Head over to your nearest stores and buy these magical grains today. They are available at an affordable price point.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5037128/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4554602/#:~:text=The%20mean%20GI%20values%20for,pearl%20millet%20have%20been%20reported.
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32549623/
  4. https://www.jstor.org/stable/24109845
  5. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/096374800427019

 

 

 

Dr Sharon Baisil MD
100 Best Foods for Diabetes

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