Whole grains are making a fashionable raging comeback. Call them the latest health fad if you will, but whole grains today have a burgeoning loyal fan following. Ragi Benefits for Diabetes Patients are huge. I’m almost certain of its because the health pundits are whispering that they add a layer of “health insurance” to your life.
A health-boosting grain, so called because it contains all three parts of the kernel – the fiber-dense bran, germ and endosperm -and none of the essential nutrients are lost in processing .Refined grains, on the other hand, are processed down to the endosperm. Nutrient-rich, disease-busting ragi (or finger millet, botanical name Eleusine Coracana) is one of the whole grain stars, not the least because it is a hardy crop that survives high altitudes and harsh weather conditions, making it perfectly suited for the vagaries of Indian weather and the diversities of the Indian climate. And so rising to the occasion, ragi or North India’s “nachni” gives the world 58% of its production from India, outstripping Africa, its original home.
However, here comes the shocker- Indians are largely ignorant about its health benefits and nutritional value. They weren’t, till the 1950s, but then along came rice and upstaged ragi along with its other worthy pals. It has forever been the South Indian soul food, and proudly featured in South Indian restaurants. In the ragi class roll call, all benefits get marked present- it is rich in calcium, helps in weight loss, has a high fiber content, battles anemia, is a natural relaxant, reduces the risk of stroke, is gluten-free, is an excellent baby food, boosts lactation, reverses skin ageing, cools the Body, great for strength, good for constipation, helps those suffering from thyroid problems, reduces blood cholesterol, a source of essential amino acids, and last, but not least, regulates blood sugar levels.
As a panacea for diabetic ills, its grain’s seed coat, abundant in polyphenols and dietary fibres vis-a-vis rice, maize or wheat, gives it a low glycemic index. This reduces food cravings and slows down digestive absorption and absorption of starch, thus keeping blood sugar within the safe range.
Specifically, per 100gms, ragi packs in the following essential nutrients:
Total Calories: 378, Protein: 11 g, Fat: 0.4 g, Carbohydrate: 72.9 g
Ragi benefits for diabetes patients rooted in its chemical nature. Ragi is a front runner in the essential amino acids count as well, the key ones being Valine, Methionine, Isoleucine, Threonine and Tryptophan. The diabetic’s essential amino acid, Isoleucine, is important for blood formation and controls blood sugar levels. It also helps heal and repair muscle tissues, bones and skin. Valine aids tissue repair and improves metabolism and muscle coordination It helps keep the body’s nitrogen balance and improves mental calmness and mental vigour.
Methionine, a Sulphur-based amino acid is more or less absent in most vegetarian diets and hence regular Ragi intake will help get enough of these amino acids has many benefits among them helping the growth of healthy skin and hair. Methionine’s Sulphur helps produce a substance called lecithin medically proven to reduce cholesterol, protect kidneys and reduce liver fat. Tryptophan’s a natural relaxant thus helping ward off anxiety, insomnia and depression and migraines. It reduces appetite and is great for weight loss and growth as it contains growth hormones. Threonine helps maintain protein levels in the body, preventing the formation of liver fat and helps form tooth enamel.
Diabetes is signalled by a high sugar (glucose) level in the blood. The glucose comes from our diet. A hormone insulin produced by the pancreas is responsible for absorbing the glucose into our body cells. Diabetes can be caused by the pancreas not producing enough insulin (Type I) or due to insulin resistance (Type II) i.e. the body cells do not respond to the insulin produced. Classic signs of diabetes are frequent urination and increased hunger.
Nutritional management is very important for a diabetic. That does not imply counting every ounce eaten but judicious consumption of the right foods. A diabetic diet must remain within the range of 1500-1800 calories in a day and must include food with low glycemic index (GI). GI is an indication of the change in the blood sugar level with our diet. Foods with low GI include fruits, vegetables, beans, oats and other whole grains. These are foods which are high in vitamins and fibre content. Also important are foods rich in proteins and complex carbohydrates but low in fat.
Satisfying the twin requirements of health and taste are some ragi recipes below aimed at tickling the palates of the diabetic. Whoever said diabetic diets are boring?
This calcium-rich and delicious ragi uttapam breakfast recipe gives your day a headstart.
What you need: 2 cups Ragi (Finger millet) flour; 1 teaspoon cumin seeds; ½ cup curd; 1 tbsp. grated ginger; 2 green chillies, chopped; Salt to taste; For garnish: 1 cup chopped tomatoes & 1 cup Spring Onion and Capsicum
Method: In a bowl, mix up all the ingredients except the vegetables for garnish and add water to make a batter of dropping consistency. Combine all the ingredients except veggies for garnish, in a bowl. Use water to make a dropping consistency of butter. Next, heat a non-stick pan and make pancakes, flipping to cook both sides. Add the garnishes on top after and serve hot with our choice of chutney. Make pancakes of the batter and add the toppings in a non-stick pan. Serve hot with chutney of your choice.
From the versatile Maharashtrian kitchen comes this simple yet wholesome bread: Nutritional Information: Calories: 717, Carbohydrates: 108, Protein: 10.9; Fat: 26.9
What you need: Ragi flour 1 cup and some for dusting; 1 tablespoon of oil and extra, as required; Salt to taste.
Method: In a non-stick pan, pour 2 cups of water, add salt and bring to a boil. Put heat on simmer, add ragi flour and mix well. Put gas off, mix once again, put a lid on the pan and set aside to cool down to room temperature, approximately 15 minutes. Oil a clean work surface and knead the ragi dough on it. Divide the dough into equal rolls and flatten. Roll out the dough pieces into rotis, dusting as required. Heat a non-stick Tawa/griddle and cook the roti for a minute or two each side and then cook each roti on an open flame. Plate and serve hot.
What you need: Ragi (finger millet) Flour 1 cup; Water, approximately 1.5 cups; Salt, to taste; Oil,1 teaspoon.
Method: 1. Dry roast, for about 3 to 4 minutes, the ragi flour on low flame till a nice aroma emanates from it. This takes away the earthy flavour and imparts a more refined flavour to the flour. In a saucepan, boil the water and add salt and oil to it. Taking the water off the flame, add it slowly in a steady drip to the flour, continually mixing with a spoon, till it has a crumbly texture. After this, let the flour sit for 5 minutes. Once the flour gets a little crumbly, cover and let it rest for about 5 minutes till cool.
2. Adding a little water, knead into a smooth dough. Take an idiyappam press and grease it and the plates. If you do not have a press, grease any vessel that fits inside a bigger one for steaming. Fill water in the pot for steaming. Put a portion of the dough inside the idiyappam press. Press in a circular motion onto the idiyappam plates yielding strings of dough. Stack the plates inside the big pot and steam for about 10 minutes.
Serving suggestions: As a sweet: Serve with some freshly grated coconut, a sprinkle of cardamom powder and some sugar.
Spice-wise: Ideal accompaniments are curries like coconut milk chutney, kurma, stew etc.
What you need:
- For Ragi malt powder- Sprouted Ragi/finger millet flour 1 cup; Cardamom powder 11/4 tablespoon; Ginger powder 11/2teaspoon; Sugar 1/2 cup; Cashews 1/4 cup; Almonds 3/4 cup;
- For ragi malt- Milk- 1 cup (hot); Ragi malt powder – 1 tablespoon or as needed
Method: Dry roast the sprouted ragi flour and mix in cardamom powder. Grind together nuts and sugar after that Mix ragi powder and nuts well as also ginger powder and give it another stir or two. Add a tablespoon of ragi malt (or as needed) add to hot milk and enjoy.