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The science behind food

Nutritional Composition And Health Benefits Of Gluten Free Finger Millet (Ragi)


Ragi is  gluten-free, non-acid-forming (Muthamilarasan et al., 2016) and easy to digest low glycemic index food (Manjula & Visvanathan, 2014).

Its low glycemic index (54-68) makes it a good substitute for rice when consumed as whole grains /flour without much processing. Diabetics and people with celiac disease can opt for this wonder grain in place of rice or wheat. Ragi is nutritionally dense and comprises rich concentrations of dietary fiber, carbohydrates, iron and calcium when compared to other cereal grains (Sood et al., 2016).

High amounts of magnesium and phosphorus is also evident. Absorption and utilization of these nutrients in the human body contributes to the reduction of chronic diseases/disorders such as high blood pressure, ischemic stroke, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, obesity and type II diabetes (Kaur et al., 2014).

Ragi contains essential minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. The grains contain the highest amount of Calcium, ranging from 162.0-358.0 mg/100 g when compared to other millet species (Roopa & Premavalli, 2008; Manjula et al., 2015).

The concentration of Phosphorous in Ragi ranges from 130.0-283.0 mg/g. Other minerals present include iron with a concentration of 3-20% (Rajiv et al., 2011; Shukla & Srivastava, 2014) and magnesium. This is of particular importance to several mothers and their children who need the extra calcium but cannot afford milk or other sources of this mineral .

Ragi has good amounts of Vitamin A and B vitamins as can be evidenced through various research studies on its composition (Table 1). Ragi contains 44.7% of essential amino acids and essential fatty acids such as linolenic and palmitic acids which are essential for the development of brain and neural tissue (Kunyanga et al., 2013; Muthamilarasan et al., 2016).The Ragi protein contains an amino acid that is missing in Rice-Methionine. This is one of the essential amino acids that is critical for hair,skin ,nails and healthy liver




The dietary fiber in Ragi play a key role in controlling and regulating the release of blood sugar .This means that this grain is valuable both in prevention and management of Diabetes Mellitus .Dietary fiber also plays an important role in prevention of cardio-vascular diseases. The World Health Organization defines overweight and obesity as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health. The most common health consequence of being overweight or obese is cardiovascular disease — mainly heart disease and stroke. The more overweight a person is the more likely he/she is to develop heart disease. Increased weight is a determinant of higher levels of triglycerides, elevated LDL (commonly known as bad cholesterol) and low HDL (commonly known as good cholesterol).  However, even a slight reduction in weight (5- 10 per cent) can reduce a person’s risk of heart disease. Dietary fibre in whole grains acts as a sponge, absorbing water and thus increasing the “bulk’ of the food . It promotes satiety and as a result one tends to eat less, resulting in weight loss.

Low fat content of Ragi together with its dietary fiber and higher amounts of carbohydrates which are available in the form of non-starchy polysaccharides makes this grain nutritionally dense and important for its hypocholestrolemic and hypoglycemic effects (Vanithasri et al., 2012; Banusha & Vasantharuba, 2013).

Constipation is a condition that is generally aggravated by a sedentary life style, lack of exercise and deprivation of fiber rich diet. Chronic fiber deprivation can lead to intestinal diseases such as hemorrhoids and irritable bowel syndrome. The link between colon and rectal cancer and low consumption of fiber is the focus of researchers today.

Thus a few Ragi rotis, a Ragi mudde or a bowl of Ragi porridge will not only fuel a person with enough energy but also take care of digestion, heart, arteries and blood sugar.

keerthi food
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