Millet has various names from all across the globe. This small food grain popularly known as Finger millet is also known as bulo (Uganda), nachini (Maharashtra), African millet, koracan, wimbi (Swahili) and ragi. The origin of this humble grain is believed to be from Uganda, or regions around that country, from where it was introduced to India about 3000 years ago.
Humble, I say, since it has served well the poor man, for it was then a staple food of farmers. It acts as a rich source of calcium and carbohydrates, and also proteins, trace minerals, iron, niacin (a vitamin of B-complex group), methionine (an essential amino acid).
It is a part of everyday diet in many parts across the globe, be it in the form of ragi porridge, soups, mixed with the flour for rotis, desserts like halwa, mixed with the dosa/idli batter, it is one of the weaning foods for babies (6-7 months onwards) and is also a good wholesome diet for diabetics. Thus, offering the user with benefits which would normally accrue to milk and its products.
The calcium it contains is easily assimilated and helps strengthen the bones, keeping osteoporosis away.
Some interesting points:
- For the calorie watchers, this is just about what you are looking for as; it is very rich in iron and very low on fat and calories.
- The leaf juice of this food grain is given to women in childbirth.
- The plant is diaphoretic, diuretic and vermifuge. It is a ‘folk remedy’ for leprosy, liver disease, measles, pleurisy, pneumonia and small pox.
- For those interested, ragi is fermented to make beer!
- Ragi porridge is considered ‘cooling’ for the body.
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