According to the data from Diabetes Atlas, 1 in every 6 adults is facing diabetes. If the growth goes on in a similar fashion, these numbers will be higher in the coming years. Therefore, it’s high time we think of transforming our lifestyle and making healthier food choices. Millets are such superfoods that provide ample nutrients without mocking our taste buds. These are nutrient-rich delicious alternatives that can help us maintain a healthy lifestyle and control weight loss, diabetes, and many other diseases that are now part and parcel of our lives. Millets are available in different forms and are the best for diabetes.
With this article, we wish to inform you not only about how millets can benefit you in fighting diabetes but will also share a few yummy recipes to cook them. Let’s begin by exploring one of the most underrated superfoods on our earth-
Millets are a group of nutritious and versatile cereal crops that have been an essential source of food for human populations for thousands of years. Unlike significant cereal crops such as wheat and rice, typically grown in regions with abundant water and fertile soil, millets adapt well to grow in dry, hot, and prone to drought. This makes them a critical source of food security in many parts of the world, particularly in Africa and Asia, where people consume these a lot.
Millets come in various sizes, colors, and textures, with different varieties having different culinary uses. For example, pearl millet is useful in flatbread making, while foxtail millet is excellent for soups and stews. Millets are also gaining popularity as a healthy alternative to wheat and other grains. They are naturally gluten-free and high in fiber and nutrients such as protein, iron, and B vitamins.
There are several millets, each with unique characteristics, uses, and nutritional profiles. Here are some of the most commonly cultivated millets-
It is the most widely grown millet in the world. It is a staple food in many African and Indian communities and is often used to make flatbreads, porridge, and gruel. Pearl millet is high in carbohydrates and fiber and is a good source of vitamins B1, B2, and B3, as well as minerals like iron and calcium.
Finger millet is a staple food in India and other South Asia. It is often ground into flour and used to make traditional foods like flatbreads and pudding. Finger millet is rich in calcium, iron, and other essential minerals, making it a nutritious option for gluten-intolerant people.
Also known as Italian millet or Chinese millet, foxtail millet is widely cultivated in Asia and is used to make traditional foods like congee, porridge, and dumplings. It is high in carbohydrates, fiber, and protein and is a good source of vitamins B1 and B2 and minerals like iron, calcium, and potassium.
Proso is also known commonly by the name broomcorn millet, and is a staple food in Asia and Eastern Europe. People use it to make porridge, flatbreads, and cakes. Proso millet is high in carbohydrates, fiber, and protein and is excellent for vitamins B1 and B2 and minerals like iron, calcium, and potassium.
Sorghum is a versatile cereal crop widely grown in Africa, Asia, and America. It is used to make various food products, including flour, syrup, and beer, and is fed to livestock as a nutritious feed crop. Sorghum is high in carbohydrates, fiber, and protein and is a good source of vitamins B1, B2, and B3, as well as minerals like iron, calcium, and potassium.
Diabetes is when the body cannot properly regulate blood sugar levels. It occurs because of a problem with insulin, a hormone that regulates the level of sugar in the blood.
Type 1 Diabetes is when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells, leading to a complete lack of insulin production. This type of diabetes usually develops in early childhood or adolescence and requires lifetime insulin treatment. Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease.
Type 2 Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that develops gradually over time and results from insulin resistance and an inability of the body to produce enough insulin. This type of diabetes is often associated with a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and poor dietary habits.
Millets for diabetes are an excellent food choice since these help the body in numerous ways to regulate sugar levels. Below is why millets are the best for controlling diabetes-
- Low glycemic index: Millets have a low glycemic index, meaning they release glucose (sugar) into the bloodstream slowly and steadily. It helps prevent spikes in blood sugar levels and ensures stable blood glucose levels.
- High fiber content: Millets are a good source of fiber, which slows down the digestion and absorption of glucose. It further helps stabilize blood sugar levels and reduces the risk of spikes.
- Improved insulin sensitivity: Studies by the National Library of Medicine show that consuming millet can help improve insulin sensitivity, meaning the body can respond better to insulin and effectively regulate blood sugar levels.
- Low glycemic load: Millets have a low glycemic load, meaning they have a lower impact on blood sugar levels than other high-carbohydrate foods. It makes them a good option for individuals with diabetes who need to manage their carbohydrate intake.
- Nutrient-dense: Millets are rich in nutrients like magnesium, vitamins, and minerals crucial for overall health and well-being. These nutrients are often lacking in the diets of people with diabetes, and incorporating millet can help bridge the gap.
There are various reasons for excessive weight gain. Sometimes, one can blame genetics or medications. Other times can be unhealthy eating habits, stress, and lack of physical activity.
Consuming high-calorie, low-nutrient foods, such as junk food or sugary drinks, can lead to weight gain. Eating large portion sizes or excessive snacking can also contribute to weight gain. Similarly, a sedentary lifestyle that involves limited physical activity can contribute to weight gain. When the body burns fewer calories than it takes in, it will store excess energy as fat.
Nowadays, we also face many hormonal imbalances, such as hypothyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and menopause can alter hormone levels, leading to weight gain.
Whatever the reasons for the excessive weight gain, consuming a healthy diet can help to keep it in check. Including millet can be an excellent option to swap your regular meals with nutrient-dense food and control the weight spike. Here is how consuming millet can help to manage weight gain-
- Low glycemic index: Millets have a low glycemic index, which means they are slowly absorbed and metabolized by the body. It can help manage blood sugar levels and prevent cravings, making it easier to control calorie intake and manage weight.
- High fiber content: Millets are high in fiber, which promotes feelings of fullness and reduces the risk of overeating. Fiber also slows down digestion, which helps regulate blood sugar levels and prevent cravings.
- Low-calorie density: Millets are lower in calories than other grains, making them a good choice for those trying to manage their weight. It means they are a good source of nutrients without adding many extra calories to the diet.
- Gluten-free: Millets are naturally gluten-free, which makes them a good alternative for people who are gluten intolerant or have celiac disease. Gluten-free diets are often lower in calories, which can help with weight management.
- Supports healthy digestion: Millets are easy to digest, which can support healthy digestion and reduce the risk of gastrointestinal problems, such as bloating or constipation.
If you are thinking about how to incorporate millets for diabetes and weight loss in your diet, we have a few options. Read on to learn how to swap your diet with these superfoods and enjoy a healthy life-
If you cannot function without having a handful of grains in your diet, opt for millets for a much healthier alternative. Use it instead of rice, quinoa, or other grains in dishes such as pilafs, stir-fries, and salads.
Include in Breakfast
The simplest food to cook is porridge. Swap your regular one with a millet porridge and relish its awesome taste and nutrition. You can also include it in smoothies and double the benefits.
If cakes, cookies, bread, or muffins are a guilty pleasure in your household, sprinkle these with millet to add an element of nutrition. You can also use millet to make gluten-free baked goods such as cakes, bread, and muffins.
You can pop the millet, make a yummy snack similar to popcorn, and grab it in front of the TV, relishing your favorite series.
You can add millet to soups and stews to add bulk and nutrition.
You can grind the millet into flour and use it as a gluten-free alternative for wheat flour in recipes such as pancakes, waffles, and pasta.
If you are still unsure about adding millet to your diet, here we bring a few quick recipes to help you-
- Millet Bowl: Cook millet according to package instructions and mix it with your favorite vegetables, such as roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, and bell peppers. Top with a protein of choice, such as grilled chicken or tofu, and a dressing of your choice.
- Millet and Black Bean Salad: You can mix cooked millet with black beans, corn, diced red onion, diced avocado, and a dressing of your choice.
- Millet Porridge: Cook millet with milk, cinnamon, and a sweetener, such as a maple syrup or honey. Top with fruit, nuts, and seeds for a filling and nutritious breakfast.
- Millet and Veggie Stuffed Peppers: Stuff roasted bell peppers with a mixture of cooked millet, sautéed vegetables, and grated cheese. Now you can either bake or saute it until the peppers are tender.
- Millet Fried Rice: Sauté cooked millet with veggies and a protein of choice, such as shrimp or chicken. Season with soy sauce and spices of your choice for a tasty take on traditional fried rice.
Incorporating millet into a balanced diet can be a helpful strategy for managing both diabetes and weight loss. Millets are a low glycemic index food that can help regulate blood sugar levels, making them a suitable choice for people with diabetes. Additionally, millets are high in fiber and have a low-calorie density, which can help with weight control.
However, when using millet for diabetes and weight loss, it is essential to consider the portion size and balance it with other nutritious foods, such as vegetables, protein, and healthy fats. Including a variety of millets, such as pearl millet, finger millet, and foxtail millet, can provide a range of nutrients and textures, making meals more exciting and satisfying.
We hope you have ample reasons to utilize these superfoods in your diet and the right recipe to tingle your taste buds yet have a nutrient-rich meal. So, swap your diet with a healthy alternative and regulate diabetes and weight gain for a happy, healthy tomorrow.