Sensitivity to gluten is on the rise, as is the demand for gluten-free foods; especially grains. Although there are many new, processed foods that are being marketed as gluten-free, a considerable number of people are taking a step back and looking to foods that humans have been relying on for ages — enter millet.  This tiny, gluten-free grain has been a staple in Asia and India for nearly 10,000 years. It’s available in a variety of sizes and colors (white, yellow, gray, red). It may be roasted, cooked like rice, or prepared to a creamy texture similar to mashed potatoes. Whichever way you prefer it, millet is a healthy grain that offers many benefits. Here are the top seven reasons to add it to your diet.
1. Excellent Nutritional Value
As with many ancient grains (like quinoa, spelt, and amaranth), millet ranks very high as a source of nutrients. It’s loaded with folate and choline and provides important minerals like magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and zinc. Serving for serving, millet offers more dietary fiber and antioxidants than most other grains.   
2. Vegetarian Friendly Source of Protein
While the protein value of millet is similar to unprocessed wheat, millet is a richer source of essential amino acids.  In many areas of the world, millet is used as a weaning food for infants as it ensures continued availability of the protein required for growth and development.  One note — preparation does matter and roasting has been shown to retain the most protein. 
3. Low Impact on Blood Sugar
The more consistent your blood sugar levels are, the better. Research has confirmed the efficacy of millet, especially finger millet, in promoting healthy blood sugar.   The hypoglycemic effect is owed to its ability at reducing starch digestion and absorption. 
4. Discourages the Development of Cataracts
Polyphenols in millet have antioxidants that inhibit the enzyme that triggers the development of cataracts.  Although it shouldn’t be inferred that millet alone offers solid protection against cataracts, this research does suggest that a diet that includes millet may potentially stack the deck in your favor.
5. Defends Against Gallstones
A long-term study involving nearly 70,000 women aged 35-61 evaluated the impact of fiber on gallstone development. The women who reported the highest, consistent intake of insoluble dietary fiber, as present in millet, demonstrated less risk of developing gallstones.  Research like this shows that not only does millet have a lot to offer nutritionally, it also promotes good health and systemic function.
6. Supports Cardiovascular Health
A diet that includes a healthy amount of dietary fiber has shown a direct correlation with a healthy heart. Grains such as millet contain unavailable carbohydrates (fiber) and lignins known for their beneficial effects on vascular health. The cultures that historically consumed grains like millet but have begun consuming processed grains such as white rice and flour have experienced a significant increase in diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. 
Add Millet to Your Diet!
Although some evidence suggests that persons with existing thyroid issues may want to pass on millet, for many people, it’s an incredibly versatile grain that pairs nicely with a very broad range of flavors. Vegetables, nuts, even fruit can all be prepared with millet to make delicious dishes. Is millet part of your diet? What’s your favorite recipe? Please leave a comment below and share your experience with us!
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