Finger millet (Eleusinecoracana) also known as ragi in India is an annual plant widely cultivated as a cereal in Africa and Asia. India is a major cultivator of finger milletwhere state of Karnataka accounts for largest production. Nutritionally whenragi is consider, it is very rich in protein and minerals in comparison toother cereals and millets. It is also abundant in calcium content, fibre,protein, vitamin and other minerals hence considered very good food fordeveloping children.
Nutritional value of Finger millet (ragi):
Nutritional value of ragi per 100gm is as follows:-
Protein: - 7.6gm
Fat: - 1.5gm
Vitamins A: - 0.48mg
Ragi is also rich in number of essential amino acids like valine (essential for repair of tissue, muscle coordination and metabolism),Isoleucine (essential for blood formation, repair of muscle tissue, bone andskin), threonine (helps in formation of tooth enamel and prevent fat formationin liver), tryptophan (act as a natural relaxant) and methionine (promotegrowth of health skin and hair).
Health Benefits of Ragi
Bone development – As ragi is very rich source of calcium compared to other cereals it helps in bone development mainly in developing children.Using ragi in food can prevent cracks formation in bone and osteoporosis. Hence it is recommended to replace calcium pills with ragi porridge in diet.
Helps in weight loss – Ragi contains amino acid tryptophan which reduces appetite and prevent eating high calorie food hence considered to be best food in losing weight compared to wheat and rice.
High fibre content – As ragi has high fibre content compare to rice and wheat, it aids digestion and prevent over eating.
Helps in diabetes - Regular consumption of Finger millets lowers the risk of diabetes and gastrointestinal tract disorder. Diets which include ragi have lower glycaemic response i.e. lower ability to increase blood sugar level.
Rich in Iron content – Patients having anaemia and low haemoglobin content should include ragi in diet as it is good source of natural iron.
Natural relaxant – Ragi has ample amount of amino acids and antioxidants which helps body to relax naturally. Thus it helps to prevent ailments like depression, anxiety, headache and insomnia. The amino acids tryptophan is a major contributor in relaxing effect.
Lower Cholesterol Level – Ragi contains amino acid lecithin and methionine which helps in lowering cholesterol level by eliminating excess fat from liver.
Reduces stroke level – as cholesterol level in blood is regulated by eating ragi regularly, it decreases the risk of high blood pressure, blockage of blood vessel, hypertension and thus reducing the chances of heart stroke.
Overall Finger millets or ragi proves to be an excellent food and remedy for many ailments and substituting ragi for rice and wheat helps in improving health.
Ragi food preparations
Ragi is included in meal in the form of mainly as flour to make roti’s or mixed with wheat flour to make chapattis. It can be also eaten inform of porridge, upama, cakes and biscuits. It is considered to be excellent infant food where it promotes bone development and proper digestion. In Tamil Naduragi is considered to be holy food of Amman where the food is made of ragi (ragi porridge) and distributed in temples during festivals.