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Since ancient times, ragi (finger millet) has been a part of the Indian staple diet, especially in Southern Karnataka where it is eaten as a wholesome meal. In this article, we will write about the health benefits of ragi.
This millet grain is called by various names like ragi in Telugu, Kannada and Hindi, Kodra in Himachal Pradesh, Mandia in Oriya, and Nachni in Marathi.
There are various varieties of ragi ranging from yellow, white, red, brown, tan and violet colour. Ragi is used to make roti, dosa, puddings, idli, and raggi mudde (balls), etc.
It possesses beneficial properties such as antidiarrheal, antiulcer, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
Nutritional Value Of Ragi (Finger Millet)
100 grams of ragi contain :
- 19.1 grams total dietary fibre
- 102 milligrams total phenol
- 72.6 grams carbohydrates
- 344 milligrams calcium
- 283 milligrams phosphorous
- 3.9 milligrams iron
- 137 milligrams magnesium
- 11 milligrams sodium
- 408 milligrams potassium
- 0.47 milligrams copper
- 5.49 milligrams manganese
- 2.3 milligrams zinc
- 0.42 milligrams thiamine
- 0.19 milligrams riboflavin
- 1.1 milligram niacin
Health Benefits Of Ragi (Finger Millet)
1. Strengthens bones
When compared to other millet grains, ragi is considered to be one of the best non-dairy sources of calcium with 344 mg of the mineral in 100 grams of ragi  . Calcium is an essential mineral required for keeping your bones and teeth healthy and strong, thereby preventing the onset of osteoporosis in adults. The calcium content is one of the reasons why growing children are fed ragi porridge.
2. Manages diabetes
The millet comprising of the seed coat (testa) is packed full of polyphenols and dietary fibre  . Ragi is known to treat diabetes mellitus, a chronic metabolic disorder characterised by hyperglycemia, resulting from insufficient insulin secretion. Being a low-glycemic index food, it helps in keeping your blood sugar levels stable. So, diabetic patients who incorporate ragi into their daily diet have a low glycemic response.
3. Prevents obesity
The high dietary fibre content in ragi prevents you from overeating and keeps your stomach full for a longer period of time. It also contains the amino acid tryptophan which functions as an appetite suppressant and is effective in losing weight. So, substitute wheat and rice for ragi to prevent obesity  .
4. Boosts heart health
Ragi flour contains a good amount of magnesium and potassium. Magnesium helps to maintain a normal heartbeat and nerve function  whereas, potassium aids in the proper functioning of the heart muscles and lowers the risk of atherosclerosis . On the other hand, the fibre content and the amino acid threonine prevent the accumulation of fat in the liver and lower the overall cholesterol in the body.
5. Provides energy
As ragi has a good amount of carbohydrates, protein and unsaturated fat, it will help fuel your body and brain  . Ragi can be eaten as a pre/post workout food or if you have been experiencing fatigue, a bowl of ragi will rev up your energy levels instantly. It also improves your athletic performance helping you build your endurance level.
Ragi is also known to help the body relax naturally due to the tryptophan content thus reducing anxiety, headache, and depression.
6. Prevents chronic diseases
The polyphenol antioxidants in ragi help in fighting the body against chronic diseases and infections  . The antioxidants prevent the healthy cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. These free radicals are known to trigger and alter lipids, protein and DNA giving rise to a number of diseases including cancer, heart disease, etc.
7. Battles anaemia
Ragi, being an excellent source of iron, is considered a great food for anaemic patients and individuals with low haemoglobin levels. Haemoglobin is a protein present in red blood cells which is responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body. In addition, this millet is a good source of thiamine which increases the production of red blood cells.
8. Good for lactating mothers
Breastfeeding mothers, who consume ragi as a part of their daily diet, will have increased production of breast milk. It enhances the milk production due to the presence of amino acid, calcium and iron which are also beneficial for the child.
9. Improves digestion
The dietary fibre content in ragi helps in proper digestion of food. It aids in the passing of the food easily through the intestine, making it easier for the food to digest. Fibre also aids in smooth bowel movement and prevents constipation or irregular stools  .
10. Delays ageing
The millet ragi work wonders for the skin by helping you maintain youthful skin, thanks to the amino acids like methionine and lysine which make the skin tissues less vulnerable to wrinkles and prevent sagging of the skin. Eating ragi every day will keep premature ageing at bay.
Ways To Include Ragi In Your Diet
- For breakfast, you can have ragi porridge which is considered one of the best recipes for weight loss.
- Ragi flour is used to make ragi mudde(balls) which is eaten with sambhar or curry.
- If you have a sweet tooth, you can prepare ragi ladoo, ragi halwa and ragi cookies.
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