Superfoods A-Z: Millet

Learn all about millet, STACK's "M" superfood, and learn why you should incorporate it in your diet today!

Millet

Your dinner plate is yawning at you, bored by your standard choices of brown rice, oats, and whole-wheat pasta. Face it, you're in a rut, stuck on a nutrition plateau you never planned on.

Add variety to your meals by throwing millet into your rotation. Although scientifically classified as a seed, millet is regarded by the culinary world as a grain due to its consistency. Offering a slightly nutty taste, similar to brown rice, millet is as underrated for nutrition as bodyweight squats are for strength.

Whether served creamy like mashed potatoes or fluffy like rice, millet is packed with essential vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and antioxidants. (1) Proven to protect the heart and help repair muscle tissue, millet will add an interesting alternative to your usual fare. (2)

Millet bringing the oomph

Tiny in size, millet comes up big nutritionally, providing one of the highest percentages of protein per serving of any grain (15%) at six grams per cup. (3)

Millet is a quality muscle-building food due to its high value of amino acids. For protein to be built and muscle growth to take place, 20 specific amino acids must be available, in three categories: essential (because the body does not produce them naturally, so they must be obtained from food); non-essential (because the body can produce them); and conditional (not essential unless we are sick).

Millet is especially high in methionine and cystine. Methionine helps the body metabolize food and the liver process fat. (4) Cystine contributes to healthy hair, nails, and skin. (5) Both cystine and methionine play huge roles in helping remove toxins from the liver and brain.

Bonus: with the highest calcium content among food grains, millet can help build stronger bones. (6) This is good news for athletes who are susceptible to stress and bone fractures due to low calcium levels. (7)

Magnificent Millet Recipes

Ready to change it up? Easy to cook and gluten-free for those with gluten sensitivities, millet is ready to sub in for other grains and put a smile back on your yawning plate. (See Basic Cooking Directions for Whole Millet.)

Our Favorite Millet Recipes

Sources

(1) Vinning, Grant, and Greg McMahon. "Gluten Free Grains." A Demand and Supply Analysis of Prospects for the Australian Health Grains Industry, Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (2006).

(2) Anderson, James W., et al. "Whole grain foods and heart disease risk." Journal of the American College of Nutrition 19.suppl 3 (2000): 291S-299S.

(3)  Pearl millet. I. Characterization by SEM, amino acid analysis, lipid composition, and prolamine solubility

(4) "Overview: Importance Of Millets In Africa," A B Obilana, The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) www.afripro.org.uk/papers/Paper02Obilana.pdf

(5) Flavonoids extracted from fonio millet (Digitaria exilis) reveal potent antithyroid properties. Sartelet, H., Serghat, S., Lobstein, A., et al. Laboratory of Biochemistry, Faculty of Sciences, University of Reims, France. Nutrition, 1996 Feb;12(2): 100-6.

(6) Nattiv, Aurelia. "Stress fractures and bone health in track and field athletes." Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 3.3 (2000): 268-279.

(7) Vadivoo, A. Sankara, Rita Joseph, and N. Meenakshi Ganesan. "Genetic variability and diversity for protein and calcium contents in finger millet (Eleusine coracana (L.) Gaertn) in relation to grain color." Plant Foods for Human Nutrition 52.4 (1998): 353-364.

(8) Jeukendrup, Asker, and Michael Gleeson. Sport nutrition: an introduction to energy production and performance. No. Ed. 2. Human Kinetics, 2010.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: PROTEIN | NUTRITION | SUPERFOOD | FOODS | HEALTH | HEART | AMINO ACIDS | STRESS | CALCIUM | LIVER | RECIPES | GLUTEN | FRACTURES | BROWN RICE