Ragi is also known as Finger Millet in English and was introduced about 4000 years ago (1).
Benefits of ragi is well known in many cultures and also documented in recent times. In fact, Ragi is actually viewed as a super food in Africa (2).
In today’s modern day lifestyle, individuals keep searching for super foods and packed food items to fulfil their daily nutritional quota without even knowing the process involved to make such packaged items.
While these packaged items work in short run, consuming packaged items in long run can have some serious health implications.
It’s easy to fall for these products as it’s advertised in such a way.
To get that lean body and abs, individuals resort to fat free diet, vegetables and cereal based diet, which is an excellent choice. But when it is consumed from packets and tins it becomes unhealthy, as packaged items make use of preservatives which has zero nutritional value.
To fulfill the daily nutritional requirement, it’s always advisable to get it through the food we eat. Ragi is one such cereal that can fulfill your nutritional need and benefit in many ways.
Let’s take a quick look at the health benefits that ragi offers.
Benefits of Ragi
Ragi benefits our body in many ways, some are well documented and some are not. Having said that consumption of ragi is proven to give below health benefits.
1.) Keeps Diabetes in Check (Anti-Diabetic)
Diabetes is a disease when the pancreatic function gets disturbed and as a result the sugar level tends to fluctuate exponentially.
So it is a condition where the body’s ability to process food as an energy is disrupted. The disruption can be either in form of inability to produce enough insulin OR Inability to use its own insulin (3).
Due to poor lifestyle these days, diabetes is spreading like an epidemic. It is estimated that Diabetes will rise by over 20 percent worldwide & India alone may have around 98 million diabetics by 2030 (4).
Cutting the long story short, diabetes is a serious concern and only way to keep it away or to keep it in check is through proper diet.
Including natural and fiber rich food such as ragi in your diet can help you to keep diabetes in check.
In a study conducted on Ragi’s (Finger Millet) effects on diabetes, it was found that regular consumption of Ragi actually helps to reduce the sugar levels and keep diabetes in check (5).
Ragi has a low glycemic index score and it has been found that, consumption of ragi has a positive correlation amongst patients with type 2 diabetes (6).
Furthermore, Ragi has high fiber contents as compared to its other counterparts (Rice & Wheat). Therefore, the pace of digestion is slowed down resulting in slow release of sugar (7).
Lastly, Ragi OR Finger Millet contains high amount of polyphenols. An anti-Oxidant known to have positive effects on Hyperglycemia (8).
So next time when you want to eat that roti or Idli, make sure you make it using Ragi as it is wholesome, keeps you full for longer duration and keeps diabetes away.
Ragi contains high amounts of Iron, riboflavin, Thiamine, methionine, isoleucine, leucine, phenanyline and tons of essential amino acids that helps to keep you healthy (9).
Furthermore it’s high on fibers, Protein & Calcium, thereby making it a super food.
Study shows that consumption of Ragi can keep diarrhea away due to its anti-Diarrheal nature (10).
Moreover, studies also show that fermented ragi given in form of drink helps to keep diarrhea away (11).
Luckily in India we can include ragi in Idli’s, Chapatti’s, Khichdi, upma and so on. So when ragi is prepared in proper manner, anyone can get the benefits that it’s known for.
Ulcers can appear anywhere in your body, they are sores that can appear inside your body as well outside (12).
Most dangerous form of ulcer is peptic ulcer and ulcers that affect the inner linings of your upper and lower intestine.
If you are prone to ulcers, it’s recommended that you eat food items that are high on good quality fiber and has tons of anti-oxidants that reverses ulcers.
One such food that makes a perfect fit into this category is ragi or Finger Millet.
Ragi is loaded with Polyphenols, Phytochemicals and antioxidants that keeps Ulcer away (13).
Those suffering from ulcers especially the stomach ulcers should always eat food items that are cooling in nature.
Eat Ragi roti’s instead of other high carb roti’s, likewise eat Ragi idli instead of traditional rice idli.
Inflammation is our body’s natural mechanism that gets triggered in response to an Irritant. This process is triggered by our immune system (16).
Furthermore, Inflammation can be Acute OR even Chronic at times due to other underlying cause. Therefore, if it is ignored for a long time, it may lead to serious complications.
So, If you are suffering from Chronic or short term inflammation then it’s pretty obvious that you need to include anti-inflammatory food items like Ragi in your diet.
One of the powerful tool that ragi has is Polyphenols and the main OR Important Polyphenols in Ragi are Phenolic Acids and Tannins. Having said that it also contains reasonable amount of flavonoids which gives ragi an Anti-inflammatory properties (17).
Studies done on Ragi also indicates that it may be helpful in reducing Peptic Inflammation too, especially due to high quality soluble fiber & Polyphenols (18).
So if you suffer from inflammation start consuming this super food, at least it won’t affect you in a negative way.
5.) Fights Atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis is a dangerous condition where plaque builds up in the arteries and over a period of time, these plaques harden and restricts the blood flow of Oxygen rich blood (19).
This disease generally happens due to poor lifestyle and dietary choice.
In today’s date Burgers, pizza, coke and lots of junk food that are acidic in nature are a part of our daily lifestyle. Therefore diseases like atherosclerosis is common across globe.
To reverse this condition OR to keep yourself protected against such disease it’s important that you start making smart dietary choices.
Consume ragi flat bread instead of standard white bread, likewise consume Ragi Malt instead of other acidic drinks.
Ragi’s are rich in Fiber, Proteins, Magnesium, phosphorus, iron Manganese, Potassium, Vitamins E and loaded with essential amino acids that helps promote heart health. Studies conducted on Ragi (Finger Millet) shows that it has therapeutic benefit such as prevention of heart disease and Diabetes (20).
Good thing with Ragi is that it’s available easily and it’s inexpensive too.
6.) Antimicrobial properties
Modern day medicine makes use of Anti-Microbial agents to treat Infections and bacterial diseases. This Anti-microbial agent is also helpful in treating fungi’s and Protozoa’s (21).
Anti-Microbial agent helps to suppress the multiplication of micro-organism and also known to kill bacteria, fungi and viruses (22).
Regular consumption of Ragi can keep you healthy and free of diseases as they are loaded with active phyto-chemicals that repel infections.
So if you are someone who suffer from frequent infections OR Bacterial diseases, including ragi in your diet may just do the trick.
7.) Fights free Radicals (Anti-Oxidants)
Inclusion of enough anti-oxidants in your diet is extremely important from overall wellness perspective. Anti-oxidants are compounds that actually helps to inhibit Oxidation process in our body (24).
Ragi contains high amount of Anti-Oxidants, therefore consumption of ragi may promote overall well-being (25).
When our body goes through an Oxidation phase (for many reasons) it produces free radicals. Therefore, high amounts of anti-Oxidants in Ragi helps to scavenge free radicals and keep you healthy.
Studies conducted on Ragi shows that higher amount Anti-oxidants are mostly due to Total High Phenolic Contents and flavonoids such as gallocatechin, procyanidin, catechin, epicatechin, glutathione reductase, Super Oxide dismutase and catalase. It also contains Non enzymatic Anti-oxidants such as Glutathione and Vitamin E (26).
8.) Fights tumor (Anti-tumorogenic)
The Phyto Chemicals and Antioxidants in Ragi are two Nutraceutical components that makes it Anti-Carcinorgenic. This means, regular consumption of anti-carcinogenic food such as Ragi can help to reduce the frequency of tumors and also shrink it up to certain extent.
This Anti-carcinogenic nature of Ragi helps to fight free radicals and suppresses the excess cellular oxidation.
Furthermore, studies also shows that Ferulic Acids in Ragi helps to block the effect of induced carcinogenesis in tongue and colon of rats. Also it has been found that presence of Phenolic acids along with other powerful antioxidants acts as a natural bioactive chemotherapeutic agent against cancers and tumors (27).
Additionally Ragi OR Finger Millet contains decent amount of nitriloside (Vitamin B17 Molecule) which may help in fighting cancerous cells.
Consumption of Ragi may help to reduce the chances of esophageal Cancer due to presence of micronutrients which other staple food such as Wheat OR Rice simply don’t have (28).
9.) Excellent for Bones
As we age our bone becomes vulnerable and bone mass may reduce. This triggers bone problems like Osteoporosis and Arthritis.
Regular consumption of ragi may help to prevent bone decalcification and demineralization due to high content of Calcium and essential micronutrients present in ragi.
Did you know Ragi contain 3 times more calcium than milk? Yes that’s correct Ragi’s or Finger Millets contain more calcium as compared to milk. In fact it contains 10 times higher calcium than wheat, brown rice and maize (29).
Furthermore, Ragi contains Iron, essential Amino acids like methionine and phytochemicals like polyphenols that enhances absorption of calcium.
Ragi’s are gluten free in nature and contains richest source of Calcium amongst all the cereals (30).
Due to high quality and content of calcium ragi’s make an excellent food for maintaining stable bone mass.
10.) Helps in reducing Cholesterol
Studies conducted on Animals show that consumption of Ragi helps to reduce blood glucose and cholesterol levels (31).
It contains essential amino acids such as Lecithin, Threonine and Methionine which helps to reduce the cholesterol by stimulating liver.
Moreover, Ragi when consumed in form of sprouts may act as an ayurvedic medicine to lose weight, reduce cholesterol and blood pressure.
Regular consumption of Ragi helps to control and prevent build of arterial plaque by keeping the cholesterol production in check, thereby preventing risk of strokes and heart attack.
11.) Helps in Weight loss
Ragi or Finger millet promotes colon health and enhances digestion.
Regular consumption of Ragi helps to assimilate fat efficiently due to high amounts of phytochemicals such as phenolic acids and other essential amino acids.
Laboratory Studies conducted on Mice to understand the correlation of high fat diet and Ragi found that consumption of Ragi protects from high fat diet (32).
This also means ragi makes an excellent fit for those who are on high fat diet.
Good thing about ragi is that it’s high on fiber and slow to digest. Meaning it keeps you full for longer duration, therefore keeping you away from unnecessary consumption of junk OR high calorie snacks.
Ragi also contains an essential amino acid known as tryptophan. This amino acid plays a crucial role in curbing appetite, thereby promoting healthy weight loss.
12.) Excellent food for heart
Ragi helps to reduce LDL and promotes good cholesterol known as HDL. Furthermore, it contains highest amount of Potassium amongst all the other cereals, therefore making it an ideal food for heart.
Ragi also contains manganese, phosphorus, calcium, Protein and magnesium which is also proven to be beneficial for heart.
Tip: When ragi is consumed in form of sprouts, it increases hemoglobin and helps to reverse arterial plaque.
13.) Prevents gallstones
Ragi Or Finger Millets are high on both soluble and well as in soluble fiber.
And study conducted by Canadian Society of Intestinal Research, shows that people eating both soluble and insoluble fiber has 13% lower risk of developing gallstones or undergoing gallbladder surgery (33).
Gallstones generally form due poor dietary habits and lifestyle. They are solid particles formed from Cholesterol and bilirubin and gets accumulated in our gall bladder.
Furthermore, there is well documented research published by RESEARCH REVIEW International Journal of Multidisciplinary, which shows consumption of Ragi in form of porridge or Milk based ragi helps to prevent gallstones (34).
14.) Excellent for Childrens suffering from Asthma
Ragi contains high amount of Magnesium which helps to relax muscles and reduces the severity of Asthma. Furthermore, it fights inflammation naturally thereby keeping the frequency of Asthma bouts away (35).
While Studies may suggest that ragi is good, not all the types are ragi may help. For individuals suffering from Asthma, green ragi should be consumed (36).
Studies conducted on effects of Millets on health found that, it is the high amount of magnesium that actually plays a supporting role to keep the asthma attacks in check (37).
15.) Equally beneficial as fruits and veggies
Finger Millets are equally beneficial as fruits and veggies, especially due to its rich Phenolic Compounds with powerful Anti-oxidant properties.
Studies conducted on Ragi has found that it has 10 Phenolic compounds and Powerful Flavonoids such as catechin and epicatechin (38). These powerful compounds helps to prevent cell damage and provide other health benefits.
Furthermore, Ragi also contains high amount of ferulic acid and benefits of ferulic acids are well documented.
Ferulic acid has hepato-protective, Anti-aging, Antiapoptotic, Neuroprotective, Radioprotective, Pulmonary Protective, Hypotensive and Anti-atherogenic properties (39).
With all these powerful benefits and qualities, ragi can be easily compared with fruits.
16.) Aids Relaxation
With Powerful Anti-oxidants such as tryptophan and essential Amino Acids, Ragi becomes a powerful tool to relief stress, anxiety, hypertension, depression, headaches, migraines and sleep disorders.
Ragi contains high amount of tryptophan (40), an essential amino acids that helps to create niacin. And Niacin further helps to create the Neurotransmitter Serotonin.
Having said that, Experimental Studies conducted on efficiency of Tryptophan has found that consumption of tryptophan helps to regulate mood, cognition and overall behavior. Furthermore, Tryptophan also helps to improve sleep apnea and mood disorders significantly (41).
Since Ragi contains Tryptophan and other essential amino-acids, it makes a lot more sense to eat it if you are suffering from sleep disorders. Also, not to forget, Ragi relaxes your mind and body too.
17.) Fights depression and anxiety
Ragi Contains high amount of tryptophan (42).
And It’s the tryptophan (an essential amino acids) in Ragi that actually does the trick.
In a randomized 3 weeks clinical trial conducted on effectiveness of tryptophan, it was found that dietary intake of tryptophan resulted in significant reduction in depression, irritability and decreased anxiety. Also the same research concluded that consumption of food items with less tryptophan resulted in more irritability, depression, mood and Sleep Disorders (43).
Therefore, consuming food items high in tryptophan can help to fight depression and sleep disorders.
It’s best to consume ragi in form of flat bread or as a porridge to get the maximum out of it.
18.) Improves Skin
Ragi contains decent amount of Rutin, a type of flavonoid known to have positive effects on skin, bones and inflammation.
In a study conducted by African Journal of Food and Science on Chemical characteristics of Millet malt, it was found that both Malted and unmalted finger millet (ragi) contains high amounts of flavonoid known as rutin (44).
Rutin, when consumed internally or applied externally has significant anti-aging benefits.
Studies done to understand the Biological effects of rutin on skin aging proves that dermal elasticity, skin elasticity and under eye wrinkles, improves significantly post applying test material (rutin) for 4 weeks (45).
Since ragi contains powerful flavonoids and essential amino acids, it makes a perfect anti-aging food.
19.) Makes excellent food to keep Anemia in check
Ragi in form of grain as well as sprouts contain loads of iron and Calcium (46).
Study done by Singh and Srivastava in 2006 confirms that, there are about 16 varieties of ragi (Finger Millet) which contains high amounts of Iron ranging anywhere from 3.61 mg per 100 grams to 5.42 mg. The study further concluded that both calcium and Iron deficiency can be overcome by introducing iron loaded millet in daily diet (47).
Furthermore, few other studies conducted to understand the benefits of ragi on Hematological Parameters also confirms that Ragi (Finger Millet) can be supplemented to improve the hemoglobin Levels (48).
Apart from high iron content, this powerful seed also contains decent amount of Vitamin C, which helps to absorb Iron efficiently, thereby fighting Anemia naturally.
So, the bottom line is include ragi in your diet to deal with Anemia and other nutritional deficiency.
20.) Improves digestion
Due to high quality fiber and slower digestion ragi makes you feel full for longer duration. It is this high fiber content that keeps constipation and other colonic disorders away. Furthermore, Ragi contains functional fiber known as RS, which escapes the enzymatic digestion and prevents several intestinal disorders (49).
Lastly, consumption of high quality fiber rich food helps to regulate normal bowel movement. Include ragi in your diet to maintain proper colon health and digestion.
21.) Boosts Lactation
Ragi contains tons of iron, minerals and other essential amino acids that increases the hemoglobin levels in lactating mothers. Moreover, due it high nutritional content ragi is helpful in increasing the milk production.
For lactating mothers, it recommended to consume green ragi as it’s known to enhance the milk production (50).
For best results consume ragi in form of Malts OR Porridge made from Almond milk.
Nutritional Contents of Ragi
- Protein: 7.3%
- Fat: 1.3%
- Crude Fiber: 3.6%
- Ash: 3.0%
- Starch: 59.0%
- Total Dietary Fiber: 19.1
- Total Phenol: 102 mg/100 grams
6 Quick and easy Ragi Recipes
1.) Ragi Dosa
Ragi Dosa can be extremely nutritious, delicious and fulfilling. To make Ragi dosa you will need below ingredients.
- 5 Cup Ragi Flour
- ¼ Cup rice flour
- Half cup curd
- 1 Large onion finely chopped
- 2 cups water
- 1 Green Chili
- Half cup finely chopped coriander leaves
- Salt as per taste
Once you have the above ingredients ready, follow the below steps to make your dosa.
- Take a bowl and add Ragi and rice flour, put some curd, water and salt to taste.
- Let it ferment for 30 minutes
- Now add all the above ingredients i.e. Onions, corianders and green chili.
- Mix it well.
- Now heat the pan and pour the batter on pan.
- Expand the batter in circular motion to make it round (thin layer).
- Cook both the sides
Your high fiber breakfast OR Food is ready.
2.) Ragi Idli
Making this high fiber breakfast is extremely easy as you need only below ingredients.
- Idli Cooker to make Idli
- 2 cups Idli batter
- Half cup ragi flour
- 2 tablespoon warm water
- Salt as per taste
Once you have the above ingredients ready simple follow the below steps.
- Mix all the above ingredients together
- Keep the batter aside for next 40 minutes
- Grease the idli plates with Oil
- Put the batter on the Idli plates and put the lid.
- Let the idli’s steam for 10 – 12 minutes
- Your high nutrition and fiber rich idli is ready.
It’s best to have this idli with coconut chutney for best taste.
3.) Ragi Malt
There are two versions of Malt, either sweet or Salt.
So depending on your preferences you can make ragi malt in two ways.
To make this highly nutritious malt you will need below ingredients.
- Sprouted Ragi flour
- Salt as per taste
- 1 Cup Water
To make Ragi Malt follow the below steps.
- Mix Ragi flour with water
- Add Some salt
- And boil it for 3 minutes
- Let it cool down.
- Add some yogurt
- Mix it well and have it.
Now this is the salty version. To make sweet version of this powerful malt simply use below ingredients.
- Ragi flour
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder
Mix all the above ingredients thoroughly and boil it for 3 minutes.
4.) Ragi Upma
Upma is a very common breakfast item in India and we have multiple varieties available.
When we talk of variety, one variety of upma simply stands out, purely because of it’s nutritional value and that is Ragi Upma.
To make Ragi Upma you will need below ingredients.
- 1 cup Ragi Rava
- Half teaspoon coriander leaves
- 3 cups water
- 2 chopped green chillies
- Pure cow ghee
- 4-5 curry leaves
- 1 pinch hing
- Half teaspoon mustard seeds
- Half teaspoon Cumin
- 1 Finely chopped onions
- 3 tablespoons peanuts
- 1 teaspoon chopped ginger
Instructions to make Ragi Upma:
- Wash the Ragi rava and keep it aside
- Now heat the pan and add some pure cow ghee.
- Add the peanuts and let it cook until it starts crackling and turns mild golden.
- Remove the peanuts and set it aside.
- Start adding Onions, Hing, curry leaves, ginger, turmeric and green chilies to the pan.
- Saute it until it turns mild brown
- Now add the Ragi Rava and saute it for 5 minutes.
- Add some water to the pan and stir the mixture until the upma becomes slightly thick.
- Mix the fried peanuts with the upma stir it well and cook it for 3 more minutes.
- Your rava upma is now ready
Garnish it with chopped coriander leaves and serve it when it’s hot.
5.) Ragi Halwa
Ragi Halwa is similar to the rava halwa that we are used to see.
The major difference between ragi halwa and rava halwa is the nutritional values. Ragi halwa is powerhouse of nutrition and easily beats other versions of halwa.
To make ragi Halwa you will need below ingredients.
- 1 cup ragi flour
- 4 tablespoon organic cow ghee
- 1 cup milk
- Jaggery for Sweetness
- ¼ Teaspoon Cardamom powder
- 1 Bay Leave
Procedure to make halwa:
- Heat the pan
- Add ghee and heat it
- Now add bay leaves and let it cook for 30 seconds.
- Put Ragi flour and keep stirring for 3 to 4 minutes.
- When the ragi flour starts changing the color add some water.
- Add Jaggery for sweetness and Cardamom powder.
- Stir until the water content has dropped.
- Add milk and continue stirring the ragi flour until it starts thickening.
- You can add almonds or pistachios now and stir the mixture.
- Cook it for 1 minute.
- Your Ragi Halwa is ready.
Switch your junk snacks or breakfast with this nutritious halwa.
6.) Ragi Ladoo
Ladoo is extremely common in india. It is a type of sweet that is commonly used in many occasions such as festivals and get together.
While sweets are unhealthy especially due to its high sugar content and limited or no nutritional value. Ragi ladoo’s on the other side can be nutritious, when prepared in an appropriate way, thereby making an excellent replacement for sugary ladoo’s.
To make this high fiber ladoo, you will need below ingredients.
- 1 Cup Ragi flour
- Half cup sesame seeds
- 3 Cardamoms
- Half cup finely chopped Almonds
- 160 grams Jaggery
- Two tablespoon dessicated coconut
- 2 Tablespoon Ghee
- Pinch of cinnamon powder
Procedure to make ragi Ladoo:
Once you have the above ingredients ready follow the below steps.
- Take a pan or tava and add 1 table spoon ghee.
- Heat the ghee and add ragi flour.
- Start frying the flour until it starts changing the color.
- After you are done frying the ragi flour, keep it aside to cool down.
- Dry roast sesame seeds and dessicated coconut lightly and set it aside to cool.
- Powder the sesame seeds, coconuts and cardamoms.
- Grate the jaggery.
- Blend all the above ingredients together, for a minute or two.
- Make balls while the mixture is still warm.
- Your fiber rich highly nutritious ladoo is ready.
Benefits of Ragi can be more than what is mentioned above as the benefits are well documented.
Benefits of Ragi is well documented and results from multiple research proves that this powerful grain is helpful in many ways.
Having said that simply eating ragi and not maintaining a healthy lifestyle will not make much difference. No matter what diet you follow, discipline holds the key.
You cannot be eating Ragi and allow yourself to eat burgers and pizza and hope for best results.
Idea is to successfully replace your traditional unhealthy food with highly nutritious food items to improve the overall health.
Last but not least, Ragi should be avoided by people suffering from Hypothyroidism as it may stimulate the thyroid in negative way.
If you are suffering from thyroid and wish to implement ragi in your diet, make sure you cook it well.
Do you like Ragi? Do you have an experience or recipe to share? Feel free to comment below.
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