Proso Millet

Proso millet or common millet is a small grass seed known for its economic feasibility as well as, has been in the recent spotlight for its health benefits. It is amongst the oldest millets and is widely used as birdfeed. It is known by many names in India including Barri in Hindi, Varigalu in Telugu, Panivaragu in Tamil and Baragu in Kannada. Proso millet is scientifically known as Panicum miliaceum. The grass of this millet is used to make brooms; hence they are also known as broomcorn. It is known to have originated in India and spread to parts of Malaysia and Burma in ancient times. It is currently grown in the Indian states of Madhya Pradesh, eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

Proso millet belongs to the minor millet’s division of the millet family. Millets are popularizing in recent times for their low agricultural input and optimum crop productivity. Its quick maturity and low temperature sensitivity make proso millet an ideal crop for the intensive cropping system. Proso millet is a drought resistant crop requiring much lesser rainfall for production in comparison to major cereal crops like wheat and rice.

This millet is a gluten free seed that’s non-allergenic and nonacid forming making it easy to digest and an excellent alternative to common cereals for individuals with gluten intolerances or celiac disease. Proso millet has been recognized lately for its beneficial effects on reducing bad cholesterol levels and standing strong as a low glycemic index seed.

Nutritional composition of Proso millet per 100g (NVIF 2004)

Energy341 kcals
Protein12.5 g
Fat1 g
Fiber2.2 g
Calcium14 mg
Iron0.8 mg

Energy: The high energy content of proso millet compares to be higher than wheat. The slow release of energy on consumption of proso millet adds to feeling of fullness for a longer time. Proso millet is the ideal source of carbohydrate for individuals with diabetes or cardiovascular diseases owing to its high fiber content. Studies have also revealed products prepared from Proso millet are slower in glycaemic response than products made out of wheat and maize. Hence, it is excellent for balancing blood sugar levels. It reduces cholesterol levels and is a heart-friendly grain.

Protein: Proso millet has high proportion of protein (12.5 %) It also contains high percentages of essential amino acids that are easily absorbable compared to other refined grains. Millets, can serve as a major source of protein in predominantly carbohydrate-based diets.

Fat: Although fat content is low in proso millets, it is known to increase high density lipoproteins in the body which are referred to as good fats. It also contains a high percentage of lecithin a kind of fat that are advantageous to the neural health system by intensifying brain cell metabolism.

Vitamins and minerals: in comparison to other cereal grains, proso millet’s vitamin and mineral profile stands superior. It contains high concentrations of calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc. Significant amounts of vitamin B-complex, folic acid and niacin are also present in the millet. They can also potentially lower the risk of skin disease pellagra (caused by the deficiency of Vitamin B3) High in calcium, proso is essential for bone growth and maintenance. Proso millet has been identified as a cheaper source of magnesium when compared to other nuts and seeds. This millet also fights ageing, and is beneficial for the nervous system as well.

Recent times have seen a renewed interest in this ancient grain, especially in vegan and gluten free diets. These millets can be a valuable source of good quality protein and add fiber along with essential nutrients to the diet. Millet based ready to eat products have entered food markets and have successfully made their way into healthy diets.