Millet is a whole grain consumed in various parts of the world. Now-a-days people are very conscious about their healthy living practices to overcome metabolic disorders and lifestyle diseases. Millets have been receiving more attention worldwide due to the raise of Diabetes. They have gained importance in diet, as they are economical, nutritional and also gluten free. Bajra (Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R.Br.) is also known as pearl millet, African millet or spiked millet. It is mentioned in Ayurvedic texts as ‘Nali’ under Trunadhanya or Kudhanyavarga. The nutritional aspect of Bajra are being explored in recent years and is widely used as a prime gluten free dietary article. It is used in the management of coeliac disease and other gluten allergy conditions worldwide. A new variety of pearl millet called chakti is available with an additional 20% of the estimated average requirement of iron which helps to improve the nutritional status as well as physical and cognitive potential.
Millets are included under Kudhanya, which is derived from Kutsitadhanya meaning that which is contemptible. It is said to be a rich source of minerals and vitamin B. They are also rich in the minor components such as phenolics, phospholipids and fatty oils. The richness of starch, protein and fibre, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, iron, potassium, essential amino acids and vitamin E make millets an important nutritional bio-source. The pearl millets consist of golden yellow fatty oil (5.23%), α-Linoleic acid (45.6%), Oleic acid (28.5%) and Palmitic acid (20.6%); Linolenic (2.1%) and Stearic acid (1.5%) as minor fatty acids. Linolenic acid is an essential fatty acid useful in conditions of rheumatoid arthritis, cardiac arrhythmias, depression and reduces the risk of ischemic and thrombotic stroke. In Ayurveda, it is described as Vilekhana (Scarifying), Baddhanisyanda (dries up fluid in the body). The diseases which are said to be alleviated by Bajra are Raktapitta (Bleeding disorders), Krumi (Worm infestation), Shula (Abdominal pain), Ashmari (Calculi), Mutrakrucchra (Dysuria), Raktadosha (haematological disturbances), Trushna (Dyspepsia), Kandu (Pruritis), Jvara (Fever), Vrana (Wounds and ulcers) and Durnama (Haemorrhoids). Millets have therapeutic benefits such as prevention of heart diseases, diabetes, migraine and premature death. Bajra is consumed in the form of Roti in many parts of India.
It is hypothesized that excessive millet usage could be a reason behind thyroid dysfunction and goitre. The trend of using Bajra on a regular basis in healthy condition is not advised particularly in South Indian population.
Dr. Shubhashree M.N.