Nutritional Value of Millets
- May 15, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Nutritional Value of Millets
Section: Economic geography
- Millets are gaining popularity across the world as the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has declared 2023 to be the “International Year of Millets”
- Millets are mainly grasses that are cultivated across the world as cereal crops, particularly in the tropical regions of Africa and Asia.
- The most famous varieties of millet include pearl millet, barnyard millet, finger millet, and foxtail millet.
- India is the largest producer of millets in the world.
- Evidence indicates that millets were first cultivated in the Indian subcontinent about five millennia ago.
- According to reports, India In 2021-2022 accounted for about 40.51% of the world’s pearl millet production and 8.09% of sorghum.
- In India, pearl millet accounts for about 60% of all the millet production which is followed by sorghum (27%), and ragi (11%).
Significance of Millet cultivation
- High nutritional value: The nutritional value associated with millets is very high compared to other major extant food crops.
- The nutritional content of millets includes carbohydrates, proteins, fibre, amino acids, and minerals.
- Drought resistant: Millets have the ability to withstand and grow in harsh, resource-poor conditions.
- Millets are drought-tolerant and can grow in warm weather, requiring less moisture and loamy soil.
- Affordable nature: Millets can grow on arid lands with minimal inputs. Thus cultivation of millet ensures that affordable foods can be produced that can contribute to healthy diets and a healthy environment.
- Food security and economic viability: Millets being climate-smart grains offer great opportunities for strengthening food security, nutrition security and bolstering economic growth.
Processing of Millets and its impact on nutritional content
- The ‘whole grain’ consists of the endosperm, germ, and bran (pericarp + aleurone). However, the “refined grain” refers only to the endosperm.
- The endosperm is the largest part of the millet kernel and is called the “storage centre”. The endosperm also has a protein covering called the “aleurone”.
- The pericarp has an outer covering called the husk. The husk and the pericarp protect the kernel from harsh conditions, diseases, and damages.
Effect of processing of millets :
- Processing of millets for consumption can affect nutrients in three different ways, namely enhancing them, suppressing them, and ignoring them.
- During processing, the husk is first removed from the grains as it is made of cellulosic matter that the human body cannot digest.
- However, this results in the decline of the phytic acid and polyphenol contents in the millets.
- The next step in processing involves decortication of the grain, wherein the outer covering is removed in order to expose the seed. This is made to make the grain more edible and attractive.
- Decortication of the grains adversely impacts the crude and dietary fibre content in the millet grains.
- The next steps involve milling, grinding (into flour), and sieving to remove large impurities such as bran.
- Studies have revealed that sieving made the flour more digestible. However, it also reduced nutrient content due to the removal of bran.
Polishing of Millets :
- Polishing is typically the last step and it is a process wherein brown rice, for example, is changed to white rice by rubbing off the bran and the germ.
- According to various studies, polishing removed 8-10% of grain weight and also removed important nutritional contents such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and manganese.