Proso millet is more commonly known as whit millet or hog millet. Its scientific nomenclature is Panicum miliaceum. In Portugal, it is called Milheto. Its cultivation initially originated in China. Today, Proso millet is cultivated in India, Russia, and Middle East, Turkey etc. Proso millet is a part of the staple diet of many cultures. Prose millet compared to other food grains seeing it has the lowest water requirement for any cereal. This is why it is generally grown in arid conditions and rain shadow regions. It is a cheaper source of manganese as compared to other conventional sources like spices and nuts.
Why is Proso Millet it unique?
Health benefits of Proso millet comes from its unique properties among millets. It is completely gluten free, has significant amounts of carbohydrates and fatty acids. Apart from these, it also contains essential minerals like phosphorus, manganese, magnesium etc. Also it is easy to grow.
Health benefits of Proso Millet
Beneficial in anti-ageing: Proso millet has high anti-oxidant content. Anti-oxidants are substances which remove free radicals from your body. Free radicals are produced in virtually every process in the body. These molecules damage the cells and fatigue them causing them to age. These are the reasons for wrinkles on skin, complexion loss etc. A healthy serving of Proso millets everyday can help you delay the ageing process.
Beneficial for nervous system :
Proso millet contains high amount of lecithin. Lecithin is a compound that indirectly affects the nervous system and keeps it functioning smoothly. Proso millet is also known to strengthen nervous system.
Beneficial in preventing pellagra and other Niacin dependent conditions: Pellagra is a condition in which the skin becomes scaly and rough and starts falling off. This is caused due to the deficiency of niacin. Proso millet has a very high content of niacin. Thus people whose diets are primarily meat based can avoid niacin deficiency by consuming daily portions of millet.
Useful for strengthening bones: Proso millet contains high amounts of calcium which is essential for bone growth and maintenance. It actually contains one of the most absorbable sources of calcium found among food stuffs. This is especially useful for young children whose bones are in the growing phase and need plenty of calcium and for old people for whom large amounts of calcium are required for proper bone maintenance.
Beneficial in preventing cardiac diseases: New research by the scientists in Seoul, South Korea suggests that regular consumption of millets can reduce the risk of heart diseases. Rats fed with millets for as short as a period of 4 weeks showed lower concentration of triglycerides as compared to non-millet rats. Millets also reduced the concentration of C-Reactive proteins which also helps in cutting heart disease risks.
Helps to lower cholesterol : Proso millet has been shown to reduce the cholesterol levels in mammals. Apparently, Proso millet elevates the levels of High Density Lipoproteins in the body. The presence of HDLs increases the metabolism of cholesterol and helps bring it under control. Apart from this, Millet is also known to contain phyto chemicals like Phytic acid. Phytic acid is known to reduce cholesterol. This is an added benefit to the fact that it can also reduce heart disease risk.
Decreases risk of cancer : Lignans are an essential phytonutrient present in millets that are very useful to humans. In the intestines of humans, the bacteria act on them and convert them to mammalian lignans that are known to cut the risk of cancers like breast cancer.
Rich source of essential Phosphorus: Millets are a very rich source of phosphorus for the body. A single cup of millet provides the 24% of the body’s daily requirement of phosphorus. Phosphorus is very essential for cell building and genetic replication in the body.
Reduced risk of Diabetes : Recent research has shown that regular consumption of millet can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes as it keeps a check on glucose and regulates insulin. This is believed to be because of the high content of magnesium in the millet.
Help prevent gall stones : Millets are also known to prevent the formation of gallstones. This is because of the high content of insoluble fibre present in them which eradicates the possibility of excessive secretion of bile which is one major cause for gall stones
Useful for people with coeliac disease: Coeliac disease is a condition in which the individual is highly resistant and allergic to gluten. Gluten is found in almost every cereal grain apart from Common millet or Proso millet. Thus this is one of the foods which these people can consume safely.
Other health Benefits
Apart from these, it has many other benefits too. It is beneficial for post-menopausal women suffering from signs of heart ailments, they combat high blood pressure, provide Iron, Vitamin B6, Zinc which are all essential for our day to day functioning. They are non-acid forming so they are very easy to digest. Millets are also high on fibre and satiate hunger quickly preventing people from overeating.
Storage and Usage of Proso millet
It is to be stored in a dry, warm condition. If stores this way, it can be stored for as long as two to three years.
It can also be added in a variety of dishes. It is a tiny, pale yellow seed with a nutty flavour which can be either eaten whole or cooked. It can be tossed into salads, stir fried with vegetables and tofu, or just eaten for breakfast with some milk and honey. Many traditional recipes for cooking millet are also available in China as millet was a part of their staple diet for hundreds of years.
Even with so many benefits, millet is not regularly consumed or given satisfactory importance in daily diet. This is because of the poor technical knowledge available about the processing of millets and the common opinion that millets are a poor man’s crop.