7 Health Benefits of Ragi & 2 Easy Ragi Recipes

Ragi or finger millet is one of the most nutritious and healthy cereals. Here’s a look at the many health benefits of ragi, plus 2 great recipes.

7 Health Benefits of Ragi & 2 Easy Ragi Recipes

Ragi: A Brief History

Finger millet originated in Africa and has been cultivated for many thousands of years in Uganda and Ethiopia. In India, the crop was probably introduced 4000 years ago and has been found in archeological excavations in the Harappan Civilization.

Benefits of Ragi

1 Ragi has a high protein content

The grain’s protein content is comparable to that of rice. However, some ragi varieties have shown double that level. More importantly, this protein content is quite unique. The main protein fraction is Eleusinian, which has a high biological value, meaning that it is easily incorporated into the body. There are also significant quantities of tryptophan, cystine, methionine and total aromatic amino acids. If that sounds too complicated, all you need to know is that these are considered crucial to human health and that most cereals are deficient in these components. This high protein content makes finger millet a very important factor in preventing malnutrition. The cereal can be an especially good source of protein for vegetarians because of its methionine content that constitutes about 5% of the protein.

 

2 Ragi is a rich source of minerals

Ragi is also a very rich source of minerals. It has been found to have between 5-30 times the calcium content found in other cereals. It is also rich in phosphorus, potassium, and iron. Calcium is, of course, an important component in maintaining bone density and health. Thus, finger millet would be a healthier alternative to over-the-counter supplements, especially for people who might be at risk of osteoporosis or low hemoglobin levels.

The study, “The Lost Crops of Africa,” published by the United States National Academies sees finger millet as a potential “super cereal” and points out that “the world’s attitude towards finger millet must be reversed. Of all major cereals, this crop is one of the most nutritious.” The study notes that people in Uganda and southern Sudan have healthy, strapping physiques despite eating just one meal a day and attributes this to finger millet.

3 Ragi controls diabetes

The rapid rise in the prevalence of diabetes has led to a great demand for foods containing complex carbohydrates with high dietary fiber levels and beneficial phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are a varied group of chemical compounds derived from plants, which are considered to be important factors in our capacity to combat disease. All these components are usually found in the outer layer of the grain or the seed coat, and so, it is generally a good idea to consume whole grains.

Especially with finger millet, the grain’s seed coat is richer in polyphenols as compared to grains such as barley, rice, maize, and wheat. For example, it has 40 times the phenolic content of rice and 5 times that of wheat. Among the millets, it is comparable to foxtail millet, and second only to Kodo millet. Initial studies have also shown that finger millet controls blood glucose levels and hyperglycemia and oxidative stress. Finger millet has also shown promise in accelerating wound healing among diabetics.

4 Ragi has anti-microbial properties

Finger millet has been found to act against a number of bacteria including Bacillus cereus, which causes food poisoning, Salmonella sp., which causes a typhoid-like fever, and Staphylococcus aureus, one of the primary causes of skin and soft tissue infections such as abscesses, furuncles, and cellulitis.

5 Ragi has anti-cancer potential

Finger millet is also rich in antioxidants, which have sort of become a byword in health books today. Antioxidants prevent excessive oxidation (how surprising!), which could otherwise cause cancer and aging because of cell damage. The phenolic acids, flavonoids, and tannins present in finger millet seed coats have very effective antioxidant properties. In general, it has been shown that people on millet-based diets have lower incidences of esophageal cancer than those on wheat or maize-diets.

6 Ragi keeps you young

Aside from the phenolic content and antioxidants which are important factors in preventing aging, finger millet and Kodo millet have specifically shown potential in inhibiting cross-linking of collagen. Collagen cross-linking is the process by which cross-links form between or within collagen molecules in tendons, skin, and even blood vessels. Collagen is what gives tissues their elasticity, and cross-linking reduces this ability, leading to the stiffness commonly associated with age.

7 Ragi reduces “bad” cholesterol, prevents cardiovascular disease

Emerging research has shown that finger millet has the potential to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Technically speaking, finger millet reduces concentrations of serum triglycerides and inhibits lipid oxidation and LDL cholesterol oxidation. LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol is what is termed “bad” cholesterol and is especially troublesome when oxidized. Oxidized LDL inflames the arteries, leading to arteriosclerosis and the risk of heart attack or strokes.

Ragi Recipes

Ragi Malt

Traditionally, ragi is given to infants and young children as a ragi malt because it is easier to digest, though it’s nutritional value is somewhat decreased.

Ragi Malted Flour

List

– Soak ragi grains for 12 hours.

– Germinate by tying them in a thin/muslin cloth for 2-3 days

– Dry the germinated grains

-Remove the roots

-Dry roastGrind to a fine powder and sieve

Ragi Malt – Salty version

List

– Mix 3-4 tsp of ragi malted flour with a little bit of water, enough to make a paste

– Boil 1 cup of water

-Add salt

– Add the ragi paste and cook for 2-3 minutes

– Optional: After it cools down, add buttermilk/yogurt

Ragi Malt – Sweet version

List

– Mix 3-4 tsp of ragi malted flour with a little bit of water, enough to make a paste

– Boil 1 cup of water

– Add 3-4 tsp of jaggeryAdd 1/4 tsp of cardamom powder

– Add the ragi paste and cook for 2-3 minutes

– Can have it either hot or cold

Ragi Ladoo

Ingredients

Ragi (Finger Millet) flour: 1 cup Ghee: ½ cup Palm Sugar: ½ cup Grated Fresh Coconut: ¼ cup Black Sesame: 2 tbsp Groundnuts: 2 tbsp Almonds: 8-10 Cardamom powder: ¼ tsp

Method

List

– In a shallow pan and low heat, dry roast black sesame, groundnuts, and grated fresh coconut separately. Keep them aside to cool.

– Remove the skin from the groundnuts.

– Add a tsp of ghee to the pan and toast the almonds for a minute or two and keep them aside.

– Add the Ragi flour to the pan along with 2-3 tbsp of ghee and roast for 15-20 minutes. Add more ghee if needed.

– Add the roasted almonds, groundnuts, coconut, and black sesame. Keep stirring.

– Add the palm sugar and cardamom powder. Stir for another 2 minutes.

– Take off the heat and let it cool.

– Apply ghee onto your palm; take 3-4 tbsp of the mixture and roll into a ladoo.

– Add more ghee if needed to make a firm, round ladoo.

Stay tuned for more ragi recipes.

Source: Isha Website

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