Health Benefits of Ragi (Finger Millet)

Ragi is one of the most favorite cereals in the South Indian cuisine and has many health benefits. Ragi also called finger millet or African millet, is grown in the dry areas of Africa and Asia. It is used in Ethiopian dishes and has a unique texture and taste. It is one of most nutritious millet and it is easy to digest as well. Since it does not contain gluten, it is a wonderful grain alternative for people who are gluten-sensitive. Ragi is rich in calcium, fiber, protein, iron and other minerals. It is a low fat cereal and most of the fats are in the unsaturated form. The cereal has different names in different regions of India. It is called Kelvaragu or aariyam in Tamil, Ragi in Telugu and Kannada, and Madua or Mangal in Hindi.
Health Benefits of Ragi (Finger Millet)

  • Aids in Bone Development: Ragi, an excellent source of calcium, contributes towards bone health. The cereal is beneficial for growing children and older people who need a constant supply of calcium for healthy growth and maintenance of bones. Consumption of ragi can reduce the risks of fractures and osteoporosis to a considerable extent.
  • Aids in Weight loss: Tryptophan, an amino acid, present in ragi, reduces excess appetite & helps to control weight gain. Fibers in ragi gives you a feeling of fullness, and the slower digestion rate of the cereal allows you to take less calories. This supports the process of weight loss.
  • Acts as a Relaxant: The amino acid called Tryptophan present in ragi acts as an excellent natural relaxant and helps to fight anxiety, insomnia and depression. The amino acid also helps in treating migraine headaches.
  • Reduces High Glucose Levels in the Blood: Ragi shows antioxidant properties, and its phytochemicals contribute towards a slow digestion process. Hence it helps to control blood glucose levels in a diabetic. A study conducted in the year 2000 found that the consumption of finger millet based diet is helpful for people with diabetes because of the higher fiber content as compared to rice and wheat. The study also found that the whole finger millet based diet has a lower glycemic response (measure of the food's ability to elevate blood sugar - useful for diabetics) due to the presence of antinutritional factors in whole finger millet flour which are known to reduce starch digestibility and absorption.
  • Acts as a Good Source of Protein/Amino Acids: Ragi is a rich source of amino acids which is beneficial for the human body. The list includes valine, tryptophan, isoleucine, threonine and methionoine. Valine is an essential amino acid which helps in repairing tissues, metabolism and muscle coordination. It is also vital for maintaining the nitrogen balance of the body. Methionine is another essential amino acid lacking in most of the other cereals. Methionine helps the body process and eliminate fat, and is the primary source of sulfur in the body (sulfur is required for the production of the body's most abundant natural antioxidant, glutathione). Isoleucine is good for blood formation, muscles repair, bone and skin health.
  • Lowers Blood Cholesterol Levels: The essential amino acids, Lecithin and Methionine present in Ragi, help to reduce cholesterol by removing excess fat from the liver. Threonine, another amino acid, prevents the formation of fat in the liver and this, in turn, brings down the cholesterol level in the body.
  • Prevents and Treats Anemia: Ragi, being a good source of iron, can be considered as a useful cereal for anemic patients.
  • Acts as Remedy for Various Health Conditions: Regular intake of ragi can prevent many health conditions such as malnutrition, premature ageing and the development of degenerative diseases. Green ragi is a remedy for blood pressure, heart weakness, liver disease, asthma and lack of milk production during lactation period.

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