Managing diabetes with millets; 6 delicious ways to eat millets and prevent sugar spikes | Health - Hindustan Times
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Managing diabetes with millets; 6 delicious ways to eat millets and prevent sugar spikes

By, New Delhi
May 17, 2024 05:59 PM IST

Regular consumption of millets can manage blood sugar, keep chronic diseases away, and boost gut health. Here are tasty ways to include millets in your diet.

Millets can be an excellent addition to the diet of a person suffering from diabetes. From controlling blood sugar spikes to improving insulin sensitivity, millets have a range of benefits. The lost superfoods have made a comeback in recent years and are being lapped up by fitness enthusiasts. Millets have a brilliant nutritional profile with high fibre and truckloads of micronutrients. They are especially beneficial for people with diabetes who are advised to incorporate low GI foods into their diet. The high amount of fibre not only keeps you full, curbing appetite for junk, it also keeps your digestive system on track. (Also read | Fatty liver disease: 5 ways millets can help manage the condition)

Millets are rich in antioxidants with loads of vitamins and minerals that can help reduce oxidative stress.(Shutterstock)
Millets are rich in antioxidants with loads of vitamins and minerals that can help reduce oxidative stress.(Shutterstock)

Regular consumption of millets can keep chronic diseases away, manage blood sugar, and prevent constipation and acidity. Millets are rich in antioxidants with loads of vitamins and minerals that can help reduce oxidative stress.

Sorghum millet (jowar), proso Millet (chena/barri), pearl millet (bajra), foxtail millet (kakum/kangni), finger millet (ragi), browntop millet (korle), barnyard Millet (sanwa), and little millet (moraiyo) are some of the examples of millets.

"Millets have been a staple to Indian cuisine for centuries. They can withstand high temperatures and have a good water-use-efficiency. They are drought-tolerant and are mostly grown in the arid and semi-arid regions. Millets are also referred to as "nutri-cereals" due to their high nutritional content. India is trying to promote millets both nationally and internationally due to the vast health benefits it offers," says Dr Meghana Pasi, Head, MyThali, Arogya World.

How millets can manage diabetes

The goal of diabetes management is to keep our blood sugar at an optimum level, as well as maintain optimal blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight. Millets are a good option for diabetics for many reasons.

Here are a few as per Dr Pasi.

  • Millet is a whole grain; it has its outer layer, the bran and the germ. Whereas in grains like wheat, these layers are stripped off and only the endosperm remains. Hence, wheat flour gets digested quickly while millets take longer.
  • Millets generally have a low glycaemic index (55-65) compared to potato, wheat flour, rice, bread which have a high GI (70 – 75), hence millets cause a slower and more gradual increase in blood sugar level. Several types of millets, such as pearl millet, finger millet, and foxtail millet, have been specifically studied for their beneficial effects on blood sugar control. Incorporating these grains into a balanced diet can be an effective strategy for managing diabetes.
  • Millets are high in dietary fibre, which aids in digestion, reduces constipation, and gives a feeling of fullness. This helps in controlling overeating and in turn managing weight. Fiber also acts as a pre-biotic and thus helps to maintain a healthy gut microbiome. Fiber slows down the release of glucose in the bloodstream, preventing spikes in blood sugar.
  • Millets are packed with essential nutrients, including magnesium, which is known to improve insulin sensitivity.
  • Regular consumption of millets has been associated with improved lipid profiles, which is beneficial for cardiovascular health. Since diabetes increases the risk of heart disease, consuming millets can be doubly beneficial.
  • Millets are rich in antioxidants along with good amounts of vitamins and minerals, which help reduce oxidative stress, a factor that can affect insulin sensitivity and secretion.

"While millets are beneficial to diabetics for all the reasons stated above, they have a varying range of GI. Hence, one must be mindful about the portion sizes. Further, it is important to note that the effect on blood sugar levels is also different on different individuals. Hence, keep track of the types of other carbohydrates you are adding to your diet and their portion sizes track other low-caloric nutrients on your meal plate such as non-starchy vegetables mix green veggies, dairy and pulses/dal with grains and millets to prevent sudden spikes and crashes in sugar levels," adds Dr Pasi.

Delicious ways to have millets

Some millet dishes you can include in your meals to control diabetes as per Dr Pasi are:

1. Millet upma: Replace semolina with foxtail millet or barnyard millet and add vegetables and season with spices. This becomes a nutritious and low-GI breakfast option.

2. Millet khichadi: This is a comforting dish for dinner. You can have a combination of millets (like pearl millet or little millet) and lentils and cook them with spices and vegetables. It’s easy to digest and helps in maintaining stable blood sugar levels.

3. Millet dosa and idli: In place of rice, try finger millet. This will provide a probiotic-rich, fibre-dense meal. They are light, easy to digest and will help maintain sugar levels.

4. Millet salad: You can try preparing a fresh salad made with cooked millets (like Kodo millet), mixed with chopped vegetables, herbs, and a light dressing. It’s a low-calorie, high-fibre option perfect for a light lunch.

5. Millet stir-fry: Cooked millets (like barnyard millet) can be mixed with stir-fried vegetables, tofu, or lean meats to make it a nutritious balanced meal. You can season it with ginger-garlic and some soy sauce to give it a tangy twist.

6. Millet porridge: This can become a simple meal so start your day at breakfast. Porridge made from any millet (like foxtail millet), cooked with water or milk, and flavoured with cinnamon and a few nuts cannot just be a wholesome meal but it can also help in maintaining blood sugar levels throughout the morning.

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