What Is Millet? Nutrition, Benefits, and More

Medically Reviewed on 7/20/2022
What Is Millet? Nutrition, Benefits, and More
Learn about the nutritional value, health benefits, and uses of millet

Millet is a cereal grain that belongs to the grass family. It is common throughout Asia and Africa and has gained popularity due to its health benefits.

Millet is gluten-free and rich in nutrients such as fiber, protein, and antioxidants, making it an excellent choice for people who have celiac disease or who are gluten intolerant.

Learn about the nutritional value, health benefits, and uses of millet.

What is the nutritional profile of millet?

Millet is a small grain that packs a nutritional punch. It is rich in calcium, iron, phosphorus, and other vitamins and minerals that play a role in bone health, nerve function, and muscle contractions.

Table: Nutrients in 1 cup (174 grams) of cooked millet
Nutrient Amount
Calories 207
Protein 6.1 grams
Fiber 2.3 grams
Fat 1.7 grams
Carbohydrates 41.2 mg
Calcium 5.2 mg
Iron 1.1 mg
Niacin 2.31 mg
Magnesium 76.6 mg
Phosphorus 174 mg
Potassium 108 mg

6 health benefits of millets

1. Rich in antioxidants

Millet contains a high amount of antioxidants such as quercetin, curcumin, ellagic acid, and other catechins, which counteract free radicals and protect the body from diseases caused by oxidative stress. Darker-colored millet varieties have greater amounts of antioxidants than white or yellow varieties.

2. Helps control blood sugar

Millet has a low glycemic index (GI) since they are a type of complex carbs, meaning it takes longer to digest than other grains like wheat or rice. Foods with a low GI are good for people with diabetes because they do not cause spikes in blood sugar levels.

3. Improves digestion

Millet is an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, which promotes healthy digestion. Soluble fiber acts as a prebiotic and encourages the growth of gut bacteria that helps with regular bowel movements and lowers the risk of digestive problems such as constipation, indigestion, cramps, and bloating.

4. May aid weight loss

Because millet is rich in fiber and contains a good amount of protein, it is a great grain to include in a weight loss diet. Fiber promotes satiety, provides sustained energy, and helps prevent overeating, and protein is excellent for building lean muscle mass.

5. Lowers heart disease risk

Millet may help lower bad cholesterol and blood pressure due to its fiber and potassium content. Millet protein may also increase adiponectin levels, which reduce inflammation in the body and can help protect heart health. 

6. Gluten-free

As a gluten-free grain, millet is suitable for people with celiac disease or who have gluten sensitivity. Gluten can trigger digestive symptoms in people with gluten sensitivity.


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What are the potential negative downsides of millet?

Although millet is generally healthy, it also contains compounds known as antinutrients that block the absorption of certain nutrients.

For example, finger millet contains antinutrients such as tannins, protease inhibitors, oxalates, and phytate. Studies have shown that phytates and goitrogenic polyphenols in pearl millet make it more difficult for the body to absorb minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium. This could explain why millet-rich diets are associated with goiter.

What are different types of millet?

Millets can be divided into two categories: major or minor.

Major millet varieties include:

  • Finger
  • Pearl
  • Foxtail
  • White

Minor millet varieties include:

  • Kodo
  • Guinea
  • Barnyard
  • Job’s Tears

How to prepare millet

Millet is a nutritious, delicious, and versatile ingredient that can be used in a wide variety of dishes. Millet is typically sold as flour, although it also comes in a puffed-up form similar to rice.

Raw millet can be cooked similarly to couscous or quinoa. Millet flour can be used in baking to replace traditional wheat flour.

Ideas for enjoying millet in your diet include the following:

  • Use millet in place of rice
  • Make baked goods using millet flour
  • Have puffed millet as a popcorn-like snack
  • Top your oatmeal or porridge with puffed millet

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Medically Reviewed on 7/20/2022
Image Source: iStock image

Health Benefits of Millet: https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-millet#091e9c5e81fecc81-2-5

5 Hearty Benefits of Eating Millet: https://www.goodnet.org/articles/5-hearty-benefits-eating-millet

The nutritional use of millet grain for food and feed: a review: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33815778/