Barnyard Millet: Health Benefits and Nutrition

Barnyard millet is a nutritious and wholesome millet and a perfect addition to your diet. Scientifically known as Echinochloa frumentacea, the Indian barnyard millet is among the highest-produced minor millets globally.

It is grown in the Indian states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Bihar. Barnyard millet in Tamil is known as Kuthiraivali. Jhangora/ Sanwa is the name used for barnyard millet in Hindi. Barnyard millet in Kannada is called Oodalu and Kavadapullu is the Malayalam version of this millet’s name.

India is the largest producer of this millet both in terms of area produced and yield. It shows a high resistance to environmental stressors and little or no input requirement for crop production. Barnyard is often cultivated as a rain-fed crop and utilised for fodder and bird feed.

In recent years, its low agricultural expense and high nutritional value have encouraged increased production and consumption of this millet. Barnyard millet’s low economic burden and traditional roots in our country have served as a pathway to deliver this millet among vulnerable populations. More recently, its wide range of health benefits has gained popularity and made barnyard millet a nutritious addition to the Indian diet.

Nutritional Composition of Barnyard Millet Per 100g (NVIF 2004)

NutrientsAmounts
Energy307 kcals
Protein6.2 g
Fat2.2 g
Fiber9.8 g
Calcium20 mg
Iron5 mg

Health Benefits of Barnyard Millet

Supports those with diabetes and heart disease

Barnyard or Sanwa millet contains 50-60% carbohydrates that serve as a major energy fuel post-consumption. It is the richest source of crude fibre among other millets, presenting health benefits by aiding a slow increase in blood sugar on consumption. This millet can be beneficial especially for individuals with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases as it has the highest proportion of fiber among all the millets.

An excellent source of protein

Barnyard millet is a good source of easily digestible plant protein and contains many essential and non-essential amino acids with high nutrient absorption rates. This quality is advantageous for resource-poor countries to maintain adequate protein intake especially required for the growth and development of children.

Powerhouse of healthy fats

High percentages of unsaturated fatty acids including oleic and linoleic acid in barnyard millet contribute to the addition of good fats to the diet. The anti-inflammatory action of these short-chain fatty acids helps reduce the risk of inflammatory bowel diseases. Jhangora millets are a great choice for those who are looking to reduce their blood lipid profile.

Helps strengthen bones

Barnyard millet is a rich source of vitamins and minerals including iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium. Being a rich source of calcium and phosphorus, it helps in bone building— growing children could do well with this variety of millet. Its exceptionally high iron levels and low inhibiting factors like phytates make it an ideal source of iron to counter iron deficiency such as anaemia.

Gluten-free

Similar to other millet types, Jhangora millet too is gluten-free, making it a great option for those with gluten intolerance or Celiac disease. If you’re trying to switch to a gluten-free diet, then this millet can be one ingredient you can add to your pantry.

Boosts skin and hair health

Indian barnyard millet is also an excellent source of antioxidants such as flavonols and phenols which help maintain skin health and improve hair growth.

Organic barnyard millet has the potential to support the nutritional well-being of developing countries. Increasing awareness of these hidden treasures has had an upsurge in the production of these millets in the last decade. Millets can stand as an important vehicle for the delivery of essential nutrients for vulnerable populations including women and children. In fact, traditional millet recipes are also surfacing to utilise the growing fad!

How to Cook Barnyard Millet

If you’re trying to add millet to your regular meals, you need to know how to cook it right. While making a basic serving of millet rice, make sure to follow these pointers:
● Wash 1 cup of Jhangora millet in clean water and drain it with a sieve.
● Then soak the millet with 2 cups of water and keep it aside for 15 minutes.
● Once soaked, you can add this into a pressure cooker and leave it on the flame for 3 whistles.
● Switch off the stove and let the cooker cool for 10 minutes.
● After 10 minutes, open the lid and let the millet sit for 5 minutes. Mix it once and it is ready to serve.
● You can use this rice with dal or cook it with vegetables and spices to create a variety of nutritious dishes.

Popular Barnyard Millet Recipes You Can Try

Some popular barnyard millet recipes include:

Barnyard millet poha

The staple breakfast dish of North India, you can make poha in a more nutritious way by using barn millet! You can roast this millet on a low flame and add water to let it cook. In another pan, you can cook the basic poha tadka with roasted groundnuts, curry leaves, green chillies, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, onion, tomatoes, and spices. Your delicious and healthy poha breakfast is ready to dig in.

Barnyard millet upma

Simple, tasty and light meals are always a great way to keep you full without feeling heavy. Upma, a popular South-Indian breakfast meal can be made with millets too! Simply fry curry leaves, mustard and cumin seeds along with other vegetables and spices you like in your upma. Once done, add water and barnyard millet and let it cook together for a hearty and wholesome meal!

Barnyard millet khichdi

Nothing warms your soul quite like a plate of heartwarming khichdi. And you can make this healthier by using barnyard millet instead of plain rice. Fry green chillies, onions, carrots, along with coriander. Add salt, red spice and turmeric as per taste. Finally, add water and wash masoor dal and barnyard or sanwa millet. Cover the utensil till the mix is soft and serve it with a garnish of fresh coriander leaves and a dash of lemon!