In a new study from at International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics, researchers found a millet-based diet could lower the risk of diabetes.
They found that people with diabetes who consumed millets as part of their daily diet saw their blood glucose levels drop by 12–15%.
The finding offers the potential for nutritionists to design appropriate meals for people with diabetes as well as others without the disease as a preventive approach.
Diabetes is characterized by high levels of blood sugar in the body and can lead to other serious health complications.
In the study, the team analyzed data across existing studies to identify the significance of the impact of consuming millets on blood glucose levels.
This included 65 global studies undertaken on humans with data on commonly monitored clinical parameters used in diabetes management.
Researchers assessed glycemic index (GI)— the extent to which a specific carbohydrate-containing food raises blood glucose levels.
Foods with a high glycemic index raise blood glucose levels more than foods with a low glycemic index.
The team found that millets have a low average glycemic index (GI) of 52.7—about 30% lower than for milled rice and refined wheat. The glycemic index of millets is between 14 and 37 points lower than for maize.
The team says including millets in diets reduces the dietary glycemic index. Diversifying staples with millets can have a significant positive impact in management of diabetes and mitigation of its onset risk.
Finger millet has extremely high calcium, three times more calcium than milk, and is good for growing children.
All the millets, especially pearl millet and teff, are high in iron and zinc, which are in the top three micronutrient deficiencies globally. The millets also have good levels of protein.
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The study is published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition. One author of the study is Anitha Seetha.
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