Millets-NEXT GEN STAPLE FOOD
Millets are a cluster of highly flexible small sown grasses widely grown as grains or cereal crops. These are the significant essential food in human history. They are highly nutritious and climate yielding crops which includes B- vitamins, essential fatty acids, protein , dietary fibre and minerals like zinc, magnesium, iron, potassium , calcium and nutrients like oligosaccharides, resistant starch, anti- oxidants like phenolic acids , flavonoids, phytosterols and lipids. They grow in most of the dry land regions.
Millets help in adaptation of health benefits like blood pressure regulation, blood sugar level, celiac and cardiovascular disease. They are non- acidic, non -allergic and easy to digest. Millet products like Pearl millet, common millet, barnyard millet, little millet, finger millet, kodo millet, fox tail millet are used for consumption purpose in many developing countries.
Sorghum is a warm season crop not tolerant to low temperatures but are resistant to pests and diseases. Finger millet is a robust annual grass mostly grown for its grains. It is stored and used as a famine crop and can be cooked as rice. Pearl millet is widely distributed in many of the countries and adapted to conditions like high temperature, low soil fertility and drought and grows well in situations like low PH and high salinity. Proso millet is highly suitable to dry climatic conditions and an annual grass which is mostly used as inter crop, organic crop and crop rotation which helps in summer fallow. Kodo millet is used as dietary requirements which has most of the protein content and fibre content. Fox tail millet is the oldest cultivated crop which is resistant to drought but not water logging which can be consumed by human and cattle. Barnyard millet is also used as food and fodder but mostly recommended for the patients with cardiovascular diseases which helps in reducing lipid levels and glucose levels in blood. Little millet is cultivated in limited extent which is used as a catch crop and fodder for cattle.
Nutritional Value: Millets are not only cereals but also has good nutritional features like carbohydrates, Phyto chemicals like tannins, anthocyanins, phenolic acids, pinacosanols and phytosterols with nutraceutical properties and micro- nutrients. These have 12 % of protein, 20% of dietary fibre, 75% of carbohydrates, 5% of fat. Finger millet consists of lower protein than other millets but rich in calcium. These are more nutritious then fine cereals.
These carbohydrates in fibre are in the form of polysaccharides in high proportion which helps to prevent blood cholesterol, glucose in the blood during digestion, hyperglycaemia ( Diabetics), constipation and cardiovascular diseases. Nutrient content in them is a good source of energy. Lipids helps in reducing cholesterol levels. Due to the presence of Phyto chemicals the marketing demand is high in these millets. Consumption of these millets also reduces gastric problems.
Not only in health but also important in industry like processing which involves primary elements like dehulling, wetting and milling and secondary elements like malting, fermentation and roasting.
However , in recent days the consumption of millets has been decreased over the past few years. The standing of millets has been undervalued due to lack of awareness, inconvenience in preparation of food, some of the government policies and processing technologies. Making them realise the importance of the millets which as very much use full in marketing , health issues and industries are mandatory in present scenario.