Finger Millet - Health Benefits

Finger Millet (Eleusine coracana L.), also known as Ragi, is cultivated in drier parts of the world - mainly in Asia and Africa. Ragi has a distinct taste and is widely used in Southern Indian and Ethiopian dishes. Ragi is a rich source of Calcium, Iron, Protein, Fiber and other minerals. The cereal has low-fat content and contains mainly unsaturated fat. It is easy to digest and does not contain gluten; people who are sensitive to gluten can easily consume Finger Millet. Ragi is considered one of the most nutritious cereals. It has different names in local languages. It is known as Ragi in Telugu and Kannada, Kelvaragu/aariyam in Tamil, and Madua/Mangal in Hindi.

 Finger Millet (or Ragi) Nutrition Facts

Despite its popularity for generations, Finger Millet today struggles to find a place in the modern diet. We will take a look at immense health benefits that Finger Millet offers.

Finger Millet/ Ragi for High Protein content

Ragi has very high protein content which is of the order found in rice. Few varieties of Ragi even contain double the protein found in rice. Protein found in finger millet is good quality protein since it has eleusinin which can be easily absorbed by the body. Unlike most cereals, Ragi also contains tryptophan, methionine, and cystine which are important for maintenance of health.

Finger Millet/Ragi for Rich Minerals

Ragi is full of minerals. Calcium, Phosphorous, Iron and Potassium are found in Ragi. The concentration of Calcium in Ragi is five to thirty times that found in other cereals. Finger Millet is certainly a natural alternative to health supplements. Consumption of Ragi is known to have a positive impact on people who have low hemoglobin count and those at risk of osteoporosis. In a study “The Lost Crops of Africa” by National Academies Press, Ragi has been called a Super Cereal. The study elaborated that people from Uganda and Sudan have healthy and robust physiques despite consumption of just one meal a day; this could be due to finger millet.

Finger Millet/Ragi for Antioxidants

Finger Millet contains antioxidants which help in lowering cell damage by controlling oxidation of cells. Oxidation is a cause of cancer and aging. Studies have found that people consuming finger millet based diet are relatively lesser prone to esophageal cancer compared to those consuming maize/ wheat based diet.

Finger Millet/Ragi for youth

Ragi is known to inhibit cross-linking of collagen. Cross-linking of collagen happens when molecules forms cross-links between and within collagen molecules in the skin, tendons, and blood vessels. Cross-linking of collagen reduces elasticity and leads to stiffness. This is mostly associated with aging.