Little Millet

Little millet is one among the many minor millets grown in India. Its grains are smaller in size compared to the other millets, hence the name little. Its scientific name is Panicum Sumatrense belonging to the Poaceae family. Little millet is commonly grown throughout India. Cultivation of particularly seen in the tribal belt of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. Throughout the country this local millet is known by many names including Kutki in Hindi, Saame in Kannada, Saave in Kannada, Chama in Malayalam, Saamai in Tamil, Samalu in Telugu, Sava in Marathi and Suan in Oriya.

Little millet is versatile and resilient crop that is known to withstand adverse argo-climatic conditions including dry weathers with droughts and floods with water logging. This quality also promotes sustainability and guarantees profitable yield for crops in arid regions with low nutritional resources and increased food demands.

The exceptional nutritional profile with high protein and increased percentages of good fats has marked this millet to be beneficial for growing children and adults with lifestyle disorders. It’s an excellent source of fiber aiding in good gut health and improving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and constipation. The high number of nutraceuticals in this millet also promotes heart health and supports prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

Nutritional composition of little millet per 100g (IFCT 2017)

Energy346 kcals
Protein10.13 g
Fat3.8 g
Fiber7.7 g
Calcium16 mg
Iron1.2 mg

Energy: The high energy content of little millet is comparable to rice and wheat. With an additional benefit from complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber content in little millet, it can be meritoriously employed in managing diabetes, inducing a lower glycaemic response, and stabilizing blood sugar level. The presence of complex carbohydrates also keeps us full for a longer time and acts as a good weight-loss food. Little millets are packed with dietary fibers (7.72 %), resistant starch and slowly digestible starch, and therefore are ideal for patients with metabolic disorders.

Protein: Little millet consists of 10.13% protein and balanced amino acids and it is a rich source of Sulphur-containing amino acids (cysteine and methionine) and lysine, which is lacking in most cereals. Thus, it is a good source of low-calorie protein, ideal for vegetarians. High concentrations of essential amino acids that are absent in predominantly rice based diets are also present in little millet. Good quality protein content in this millet promises effective absorption of essential nutrients. Owing to better quality and quantity of nutrients present in them, this millet is an effective and economical source of protein for protecting against protein deficiency disorders in developing nations.

Fats: little millet is known to contain marginal amounts of fats, although its concentration of good fats has a positive impact on the lipid profile of the body. These health benefits are also fruitful for maintaining good health and aiding in positive growth and development of children.

Vitamins and minerals: little millet is loaded with B vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, potassium among others. Studies have proven that there is an increase in bioavailability of B vitamins on fermentation of little millet. Processed little millet is extensively utilized to prepare ready to eat foods and therapeutic formulas for battling malnutrition.

Little millets are packed with polyphenols and antioxidants compared to the other millets, which makes it fight age-related oxidative stress effectively and a powerful anti-ageing food that builds immunity. It also fights inflammation and is known to be useful for asthma patients. In recent years little millet has been introduced as a key ingredient in multi grain and gluten free flours for its added advantages of high fiber and high mineral content. This has also promoted its utilization by individuals with diabetes for its low glycemic index properties and high levels of good fats.