Pearl Millet or Bajra – A Super Food for All

Pearl Millet

Madhumati Tyagi and Sunil Kumar D.

Pearl millet (Cenchrus American us/Pennisetum glaucum) is generally grown in Africa and the Indian subcontinent since prehistoric times. Pearl millet are egg-shaped grains of 3–4 millimeters length, but its kernel is the largest of all varieties of millet except sorghum. These can be nearly white, pale yellow, brown, grey, slate blue or purple. Depending on their size, the 1000-seed weight can be anything from 2.5 to 14 g with a mean of 8 g. The height of the plant ranges from 0.5–4 meters.

Pearl millet in Bharat is known as ‘Bajra’ in Hindi, ‘Sajje’ in Kannada, ‘Kambu’ in Tamil, ‘Sajjalu’ in Telugu, ‘Bajeer’ in Kumaoni, ‘Bajri’ in Gujarati. In Afro-asiatic languages, pearl millet is known as ‘Maiwa’ in Hausa, ‘Mexoeira’ in Mozambique, ‘Baajri’ in Marathi, ‘Za’ in the Dagbani language of Ghana, ‘Zuk’ in Tyap of Nigeria, ‘Mawele’ in Swahili, ‘Mwere’ in Meru language of Kenya, ‘Mahangu’ in Kwanyama of Namibia.

Pearl millet or Bajra is an extremely nutritious and easy to digest cereal grain. Bajra is glutton frees and a healthy option for people with a gluten allergy and celiac disease. They are power-packed with carbohydrates, essential amino acids, and antioxidants, multiple vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid, niacin, beta-carotene, and minerals like iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc.

A 100 gm of Pearl Millet contains–Protein – 10.96 gm, Dietary fibers- 11.49 gm. Fat content- 5.43 gm, Carbohydrates– 61.78 gm, Energy- 1456 KJ.

Good for diabetic diet – Pearl millets contain carbohydrates that are digested slowly and maintain a stable glucose level for a long period because of their phenolic compounds. This makes them a healthy food option for diabetics.

Beneficial for heart health – Pearl millets are rich in dietary fibers and naturally low in saturated fats and cholesterol. It is considered a heart-healthy grain due to its nutritional profile.Bajra contains healthy fats, primarily polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which are beneficial for heart health when consumed in moderation. It might be great for people with high cholesterol because of its special compound called phytic acid that may help regulate cholesterol metabolism and keep it balanced in the body.

Perfect for Celiac disease and gluten intolerance– Pearl millets devoid of gluten are recommended as an alternative diet to people with gluten intolerance and celiac disease related challenges. Therapeutic for people with frequent bouts of acidity and stomach ulcers.

Prevents Constipation- Bajra promotes good gut health and provide relief from constipation. The reason behind this is the presence of insoluble fiber in Bajra.

Provides protein to vegetarians- Pear millets contain more protein than in rice, barley, maize and sorghum. The health benefits of Bajra include its ability to provide the required protein to vegetarians as well. Bajra flour becomes complete when it is combined with seeds like raja, moong dal, Chana dal, etc.

Lowers Blood pressure– Bajra is known for its richness in potassium, which is needed for those with high blood pressure because potassium will flush out sodium from your body, which in turn will reduce blood pressure. Bajra are full of tannins, phytates, and phenols that help protect your cells against damage and potential diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. They are an excellent source of B vitamins, which play a role in everything from brain function to healthy cell division

Makes bone stronger – Bajra contain notable amounts of calcium, a crucial mineral for maintaining bone strength and density. The high phosphorus content of Bajra helps bone growth and development as well as for the production of ATP, the body’s energy.

Nutritious baby food – Bajra contains good amount of fiber, which helps nourish baby’s developing gut microbiome. They are easily digested and well tolerated by little ones during the weaning period and even later on.

Rich in antioxidants – Bajra contain phytic acid, tannins, and phenols, which can contribute to antioxidant activity, important in lessening free radical damage in the body and prevents early ageing, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular diseases, and aids in wound healing and metabolic diseases.

Ideal for weight management and obesity-Packed with fiber, iron, and magnesium, Bajra contributes to weight loss by promoting satiety and aiding insulin sensitivity. It has high fiber content that helps curb overall calorie intake, while magnesium supports efficient weight management.

Reduces the risk of colon cancers – It makes the stomach pH alkaline, and thus reduces the risk of colon cancers. Phenolic compounds isolated from whole pearl millet grain (52.7%) and hulled grain (43.8%) exhibited greater inhibitory effects against the colon cancer cell line HT-29.

A healthy choice of food for pregnant women and nursing mothers due to iron, vitamin B6 and folic acid contents. There are no known side effects of millet during pregnancy. Pearl millet is rich in folate, which is important for the healthy development of the baby’s brain and nervous system.

Good for gallbladder and kidney stone – Bajra support gallbladder health and reduce the chances of gallstone formation. When our intestines produce too much bile, it may worsen the condition of gallstones. The insoluble fiber found in pearl millet might help reduce the production of excess bile in our digestive system and the risk of developing gallstones.

Help in managing anemia and increasing hemoglobin level – Bajra is rich in iron, containing about 8mg of iron per 100g. Thus, by including Bajra in your diet, you may boost your iron intake and support healthy hemoglobin levels.

How to consume Pearl Millet?

Adding Bajra to your diet can be a smart and tasty choice! Bajra can be found in various forms for daily consumption as flatbreads, Dosa, Porridge, Poha or Upma for breakfast, and ready to eat snacks like millet cookies Khakhara. The huge health benefits of Bajra make it a perfect superfood, optimum for regular consumption by all. Bajra recipes combined with protein-rich dishes containing lentils, cottage cheese, soya chunks, or salsa, make them a perfect platter of the recommended balanced diet.

Also ReadIRCTC introduces millet dishes in trains

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