Food for thought: Dietary intervention with ‘nutri-cereals’ good for pre-diabetics: PAU expert

Published on Sep 15, 2022 08:16 PM IST

Study titled ‘Utilization of Underutilized Grains in Regional Foods for Improved Health and Nutritional Status of the Rural Punjabi Women’

ByMohit Khanna, Ludhiana:

Millets and legumes proved to be a wonder food for pre- diabetic women in controlling their blood sugar levels, finds a study conducted by Punjab Agricultural University (PAU). The study titled ‘Utilization of Underutilized Grains in Regional Foods for Improved Health and Nutritional Status of the Rural Punjabi Women’ conducted by the Department of Food Nutrition PAU, stated that improved nutritional profile was noticed among pre-diabetic rural women who were given modified foods by incorporating grains like millets and legumes.

Explaining the premise, Dr Neerja Singla, Associate Professor, said that the study was conducted on 30 pre- diabetic women living in rural areas around the city. The modification in the dietary habits have shown remarkable results and their fasting sugar level has improved.

She said that millets have a great potential due to their high nutritional content, gluten-free, and low glycemic index properties. Due to their high dietary fibre content, proteins with balanced amino acid profile, many essential minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, these can be considered as ‘nutri-cereals’.

However, due to the changing lifestyle, they are now considered as ‘forgotten grains’ especially in the Punjabi diets. Due to increasing incidence of diabetes among rural women of Punjab, there is a need to develop foods that mimic the regional foods and can be conveniently adopted by people, she opined.

The study was undertaken by modifying the commonly consumed traditional recipes of Punjab into the low glycemic index foods and then investigating their effect on pre-diabetic rural women.

The breakfast items like dalia, missa parantha and chapati were modified with ingredients like Pearl Millet (Bajra), Oats, Sorghum (Jowar), Chickpea.

The results of dietary intervention on pre-diabetic rural women showed an improvement in their nutritional profile due to a positive effect of the modified foods on the blood profile of the subjects, added Singla.

She stressed that the incidence of increasing diabetes among the population, especially women, can be considerably controlled with the use of low glycemic index foods including millets in daily diets.

Millets being rich in many nutrients, phytochemicals and have low glycemic index are a suitable choice for the food-based intervention in managing diabetes and other non-communicable diseases.

They aid in slow release of glucose and are also beneficial in prevention of cells damaged due to the formation of free radicals in the diabetic patients.

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