Health Benefits of Barnyard Millet
The United Nations General Assembly declared the year 2023 as the International Year of Millets (IYM 2023). The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is leading the way in celebrating this year in collaboration with colleagues all over India. IYM 2023 will be an opportunity to create awareness of the contribution of millet to Food Security, nutrition, and their enhanced investment in research and development. This year will help improve sustainable production, and quality of millets and provide extension services to achieve the other two aims. We can’t ignore the amazing health benefits of Barnyard Millet.
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IYM 2023 according to the prime minister of India, should be a ‘People’s Movement’ alongside positioning India as the ‘Global Hub for Millets’.
What is Barnyard Millet?
Barnyard Millet (Echinochloa frumentacea) is one of the hardiest known millet, which is known by different names in different regions viz., Japanese millet, German millet, sanwa, jhangora, sawank, sawan, ooda, and oadalu. It is an ancient millet crop grown in warm and temperate regions of the world. This millet is widely cultivated in Asia, particularly India, China, Korea, and Japan.
Barnyard millets can be unpolished or polished in which the former is off-white in colour and later, white in colour. Unpolished millets are most frequently used. Characteristics of barnyard millets are:
- Low glycemic index
- Rich in fibres
- Low in calories
- Can grow in drought-like conditions
- Needs only 200-300 litres of water to produce 1kg millet
- Can be harvested in 90 days
- Looks similar to little millet
- It is flatter as compared to the other 4 siridhanya millets which are rounder
In addition to these agronomic advantages, grains are valued for their high nutritional value and low expense when compared to other grains. It is a rich source of protein, carbohydrates, fibres, and most notably, micronutrients like iron(Fe) and zinc(Zn). This is the reason why barnyard millets are related to numerous health benefits.
Global Production of Millets
As this year has been celebrated as the International Year of Millets 2023, let’s discuss its global production. India, Nigeria, and China are the largest producers of millet in the world, contributing to more than 55% of global production. It is grown in about 131 countries and serves as the traditional food for around 60 crore people in Asia & Africa.
India is the largest producer of millet in the world contributing to about 20% of global production and 80% of Asia’s production. Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh are some of the states which contribute to almost 100% of millets production in India. Out of which, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Haryana account for more than 81% share in total millet products. Rajasthan contributes half of the total production of India’s millet production.
When talked about nutritional value, barnyard millet is nutritionally superior when compared to many major and minor millet. These are less expensive and have grown to end ‘hidden hunger’. Barnyard millets are a rich source of protein, dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals like iron content, calcium, zinc, magnesium, and some essential amino acids. Millets can grow on dreary lands with the slightest inputs and are resilient to climatic changes. They are therefore the perfect solution for countries to increase self-sufficiency and reduce dependency on imported cereal grains. They act as a defence against nutritional deficiencies.
|Crude fibre, %||6.6|
|Total minerals, %||2.0|
|Total carbohydrates, % (by difference)||68.8|
|Calorific value, kcal/100 g||398.0|
|Total dietary fibre, %||12.6|
Top 5 Health Benefits of Barnyard Millet
There are various health benefits of Barnyard Millet which we can’t miss!
1. Excellent source of fibre
Barnyard millet is an excellent source of fibre containing about 12.6% of dietary fibre, which is high than all other millets. Regular consumption of food made from barnyards is very beneficial for the liver and kidneys. It cleanses soft organs like the liver, kidneys, gall bladder, urinary bladder, pancreas, and spleen. Furthermore, the problem of constipation can be cured by taking barnyard in the diet regularly.
2. Cure for diabetes
Taking a diet made of barnyard regularly helps in curing diabetes and increases immunity. According to a study, having barnyard millet in the diet positively impacts blood glucose and serum lipid levels in diabetic and also non-diabetic patients. Barnyard Millet is also beneficial for those who have cardiovascular diseases, obesity, skin problems, cancer, etc. It helps in reducing blood glucose levels and lowers cholesterol.
3. Use of Barnyard millet in anemia
Anaemia, as we all know, is a common blood disorder where the number of red blood cells or haemoglobin in the blood is low. This leads to reduced oxygen flow to the body’s organs, therefore, causing fatigue, skin pallor, shortness of breath, dizziness, or a fast heartbeat. It is most commonly due to a lack of iron in the diet. Since barnyards are a good source of iron content, therefore, it helps to overcome the problem of anaemia. Furthermore, eating enough iron in a diet can be a wonderful strategy for pregnant women.
4. Gluten-free food
Barnyard millet is gluten-free and hence, can be incorporated into the diet of celiac and diabetic patients. It is an appropriate food for patients who are looking to follow a gluten-free lifestyle that eliminates wheat, barley, and rye-based foods. These are easily available, quick to cook, and good to taste. Therefore, barnyard millet proves to be an ideal alternative to other grains for people on a gluten-free diet.
5. Contribution to weight loss
One of the most important aspects of eating barnyard millet is it helps promote weight loss. Since they are low in calories and gluten-free, they can help health-conscious people reach their fitness goals easily. In addition to this, the high fibre content of millet will help you feel fuller for an extended period of time.
Barnyard millet is one of the hardiest millets known, which flourishes best in unfavourable climatic conditions. Barnyard millet may be unfamiliar to almost everyone, may not enjoy its flavour at first, but it’s worth trying. This low glycemic index, gluten-free, high-fibre grain has many health advantages that one may easily get by including it in his/her diet. It is an important grain that possesses good cooking and sensory qualities. It is a worthy addition to the diet of diabetic patients. The grains are rich in micronutrients like iron and zinc and hence, considered superior to other major crops like rice, wheat, maize, etc. To a patient with excessive cholesterol, barnyard works like magic. Also, 2023 is regarded as the International Year of Millets. Hence, this year will also promote the sustainable production of millet.
So, let’s start incorporating barnyard into our diets from today!
Thanks for reading!
- Renganathan, V. G., Vanniarajan, C., Karthikeyan, A., & Ramalingam, J. (2020). Barnyard millet for food and nutritional security: current status and future research direction. Frontiers in genetics, 11, 500