Barnyard millet, one of the ancient grains that has been embraced in the modern world, is a perfect choice to achieve holistic wellness. Thanks to the renewed popularity of millets, a wide variety of millet-based delicacies are now finding their way into eateries and even common person’s kitchen. These drought and flood resistant crop can be turned into a variety of sweet and savoury snacks and meals. Barnyard millet is an excellent source of protein, soluble and insoluble fibre, a variety of micronutrients like iron, calcium and phosphorous. (Also read | Ancient Wisdom Part 38: Bay leaf can lower cholesterol, treat digestive issues; know all benefits)
People who lead a sedentary lifestyle should consider replacing their refined grains with wholegrain options. Fibre-rich and high protein, barnyard millet is especially recommended for people with diabetes as it can help manage blood sugar spike and prevent one from the many complications associated with the disease. Eat it as your breakfast porridge, add it in your cookies, drink it with your milk or include it in your salad for reaping the benefits of a range of nutrients.
Barnyard millet, scientifically known as Echinochloa esculenta, is a gluten-free ancient grain with numerous health benefits. In ancient times, this millet was a staple in many cultures due to its versatility and nutritional value. Barnyard millet dates back to thousands of years back and even finds mention in Yajurveda texts. In India it has been cultivated for 4,000 years. Similarly in China, the cultivation of barnyard millet dates back to 2,000 years back. Archaeological evidence has suggested that barnyard millet was grown in Japan as early as Yayoi period, dating back some 4–5 millennia (Watanabe 1970).
Benefits of barnyard millet
Ayush Aggarwal, Ayurveda expert and founder Rasayanam, elaborates on various benefits of barnyard millet for heart health to regulating blood sugar levels.
Rich in nutrients: Barnyard millet is a powerhouse of essential nutrients such as fibre, protein, iron, and calcium. It also contains important minerals like phosphorus and magnesium, contributing to overall health.
Gluten-free alternative: Ideal for those with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, barnyard millet serves as an excellent gluten-free substitute in various dishes.
Weight management: With its high fibre content, barnyard millet aids in digestion, promotes a feeling of fullness, and can be beneficial for weight management.
Regulates blood sugar: The complex carbohydrates in barnyard millet are digested slowly, helping in maintaining stable blood sugar levels. It is a suitable grain for individuals with diabetes.
Heart health: Barnyard millet contains antioxidants and compounds that support heart health, such as lignans and phenolic acids.
In ancient times, barnyard millet was a staple in many diets across Asia. It was commonly used to make flatbreads, porridge, and fermented dishes. Its adaptability made it a versatile ingredient in various cuisines.
How to include barnyard millet in your daily diet
Barnyard millet can be ground and used as a flour to prepare rotis and parathas. It can also be turned into porridge or snacks, says Aggarwal.
Cooking techniques: Barnyard millet can be cooked similarly to rice. Boil it in water or broth for a nutritious base for meals.
Baking and flatbreads: Ground barnyard millet flour can be used in baking or to make flatbreads, providing a gluten-free alternative with a nutty flavour.
Porridge and breakfast bowls: Create wholesome breakfast options by incorporating barnyard millet into porridge or breakfast bowls with fruits, nuts, and seeds.
Salads and pilafs: Add a nutritious twist to salads or pilafs by mixing cooked barnyard millet with fresh vegetables, herbs, and a light dressing.
Fermented foods: Explore traditional fermentation techniques to prepare fermented barnyard millet dishes, enhancing both flavour and nutritional value.
Who should avoid barnyard millet
“While barnyard millet is generally considered safe for most individuals, those with allergies or sensitivities to grains should exercise caution. Additionally, individuals with specific medical conditions or dietary restrictions should consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating barnyard millet into their diet,” adds Aggarwal.