Finger millet, popularly called Ragi, is a highly nutritious grain. Found in Eastern and Southern African countries like Sudan, Nigeria, Congo, and Zimbabwe, and Southern Asia, primarily India and Nepal, it has been primarily used to help increase bone strength due to the presence of calcium and minerals in the same. The oldest record of finger millet comes from an archaeological site in Africa dating to the 8th century AD, which subsequently was cultivated worldwide in later stages.
Current and Historical Uses:
Primarily used to treat and aid in the process of recovery and in maintaining health while suffering from certain diseases like the following:
Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses and or makes too little bone. As a result, bones become weak and may break due to big impact and in advanced pertaining cases, even from sneezing and minor falls. Ragi is a great source of calcium and minerals, which helps in keeping the bones strong.
Diabetes: Diabetes is a metabolic disease that causes high blood sugar. The hormone insulin moves sugar from the blood and into your cells to be stored and used for energy.
When you have diabetes, your body either doesn't make enough insulin or can't effectively use the insulin it does produce. Ragi helps correct impaired digestion and is helpful due to its low weight and ease of digestion.
High Cholesterol: If your blood contains too much LDL cholesterol (cholesterol carried by low-density lipoprotein), then you have high cholesterol. Having no symptoms, when it is left untreated, high cholesterol can lead to many health problems, including heart attack or stroke. Ragi helps reduce high cholesterol as it also ensures that there are no blockages in the blood vessels by regularly removing the toxins from it.
For Osteoporosis, Diabetes, and High Cholesterol, the procedure and output are the same:
Take 3-4 teaspoons of Ragi flour
b. Add some water to make a dough.
c. Make small sized chapatis with the necessity of a roller.
d. Cook them properly and have hot chapatis with a side dish.
Wrinkles: Wrinkles are creases, folds, or ridges in the skin. They appear naturally as one gets older. Wrinkles start appearing at places where the skin folds during facial expressions as a result of decreasing elasticity and thickness with increasing age.
Ragi helps prevent wrinkles to a certain extent, removes the dead skin, and brings a certain glow to the face.
Take 1-2 teaspoons of Ragi flour
b. Add milk to it and make a paste.
c. Apply this paste on the face and neck.
d. Let it sit for 20-30 minutes.
e. Wash thoroughly with tap water to get glowing, wrinkle-free skin.
f. Repeat it once or twice a week.
Anti-dandruff: Dandruff is marked by flakes of dry skin on the scalp, which may be attributed to dehydration and stress. Ragi possesses certain qualities that help keep dandruff in check and eliminate it.
Take 1-2 teaspoons of Ragi flour
b. Add coconut oil to it and make a paste.
c. Apply this paste on the scalp.
d. Let it sit for 1-2 hours.
e. Wash thoroughly with tap water.
f. Repeat it twice a week to get rid of dandruff.
Side Effects of Ragi:
1. High consumption of Ragi should be avoided as it can potentially increase the levels of oxalic acid in the body. Hence, it is not advised to patients having kidney stones and urinary calculi as a problem.
2. Ragi constitutes goitrogen, which can hinder the production of thyroid hormones and may restrict the thyroid gland's iodine intake. Hence, patients suffering from thyroid conditions should consult their doctors.
3. Deficiency of iodine may also lead to the condition known as Goiter to develop as so a patient of goiter should avoid Ragi.
Benefits of Ragi:
• Rich in protein: Ragi flour has very big levels of protein content. This makes it an excellent protein source for people who primarily use plant-based sources for their protein needs. Protein being an essential nutrient for the human body as it manages the wear and tears in the body.
• High antioxidant content: The antioxidants in Ragi flour help your body fight free radicals and slow the aging process. Free radicals have also proven to lower down the risk of various cancers significantly.
• Completely gluten-free: Ragi flour is entirely gluten-free, which makes it healthy. This proves it to be highly beneficial for individuals who are gluten intolerant.
• Good for diabetics: The benefits of the Magnesium content in Ragi is that the Magnesium lowers your body’s insulin resistance. The low Magnesium content in the body affects it in a highly negative manner as it damages the body over time.
• Good for heart health: It is also known that Magnesium plays a key role in maintaining healthy heart health. Ragi nutritional value per 100g provides 137mg of Magnesium, which fulfills 50% of your body’s RDA.
• A rich source for Calcium: Ragi's nutritional value of 344mh of Calcium per 100g, helping to fulfill the majority of your body's daily Calcium requirements. The phosphorus constituents in Ragi works with Calcium in strengthening your bones and teeth.
• Keeps your digestion system healthy: Ragi flour provides around 15%-20% of dietary fiber per 100g of serving. This helps in making one feel full while also preventing constipation. Insoluble fibers in the food do not dissolve in your stomach and keep the food in your digestive tract from blocking or piling up.
Facts about Ragi:
• Ragi is an excellent source of natural calcium, which helps in strengthening bones for growing children and aging people. Regular and controlled consumption of Ragi is good for bone health and prevents diseases such as osteoporosis while also reducing fracture risk.
• It has been established that phytates, polyphenols, and tannins can contribute to Ragi foods' antioxidant activity, which is an important factor in health, aging, and metabolic diseases.
• Ragi phytochemicals have been shown to help in slowing the digestion process, which leads to controlling blood sugar levels in the condition of diabetes. It has been found that a Ragi based diet helps people with diabetes as it has a higher fiber content as compared to rice and wheat. A diet based on whole Ragi has a lower glycemic response, i.e., lower ability to increase blood sugar level. This is due to the presence of factors in Ragi flour, which lower digestibility and absorption of starch.
• Ragi flour is recommended as a weaning food, especially in India's southern parts, due to its high nutritional content.
• Ragi is a very good source of Iron, and its consumption helps in the recovery of Anemia. These Ragi-based foods are highly suited for pregnant women and the elderly as it helps to fulfill their high calcium and iron need.
• Ragi consumption also helps in relaxing the body in natural ways. It is beneficial in conditions of depression, anxiety and is a good treatment for migraines.
• Green ragi is advised for illnesses such as blood pressure, liver disorders, asthma, and heart weakness. As discussed above, it is also recommended to lactating mothers in conditions of lack of milk production.
• If consumed regularly, Ragi can help in preventing malnutrition, degenerative diseases, and premature aging.
• Low glycemic index.
• To those who work hard, toil hard, it stays in the stomach for quite a long time, unlike eating rice.
• The farmers, laborers, prefer to eat ragi ball, flattened "chapati" made of ragi.
• You can add vegetables, chilies, onion, etc., and make chapati and can eat just the “special Ragi chapati” without a side dish.
• Very poor people can eat a Ragi ball with just green chili and grains of salt, adding a little water (without the need for a soup).
• Suppose a family is poor and very big with a lot of family members to feed, preparing food out of Ragi. In that case, either Ragi ball or Ragi chapati is ideal and economical.
• Unlike rice, which requires a lot of water for irrigation, ragi doesn't require so much water to grow; harnessing is also not laborious.
Uses of Ragi from different standpoints:
• Use of Ragi Flour
Ragi is a functional food and can be eaten in many ways, e.g., as porridge.
Ragi is a good source of nutrients and dietary fiber, helping maintain bone health, sugar level, and cholesterol level. It helps in weight loss and also reduces the risk of infections because of its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. It also helps reduce the risk of cancer.
Ragi flour is beneficial in many ways:
1. It is used to manage diseases such as osteoporosis
2. It helps manage diabetes or high cholesterol of to its natural qualities
3. It is very good for indigestion due to its balancing, digesting, and light nature properties.
• Consumption of Ragi at night
Yes, you can eat Ragi at night. Tryptophan, an essential amino acid present in Ragi, helps manage insomnia, depression, and anxiety and is good for sound sleep.
Insomnia or disturbed sleep is a condition that occurs due to an imbalanced Vata dosha. It gets aggravated, which results in an increased level of stress, which leads to disturbance in sleep, depression, or even anxiety. Consuming Ragi at night will help in improving these conditions by reducing the stress level because of its balancing property.
• Weight Gain
Ragi does not cause weight gain. Ragi is rich in fiber and thus helps in maintaining weight.
Impaired digestion leads to an accumulation of Ama (toxic remains in the body due to improper digestion), which is one of the leading causes of an increase in weight. Ragi will help in correcting impaired digestion and thus helps to control weight gain.
• Benefits for Babies
Ragi is very beneficial for babies. It is a functional food because of the presence of essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, calcium, iron, and magnesium while also being a good source of dietary fiber. Therefore Ragi can serve as a beneficial food ingredient in diets designed for babies.
Ragi might be useful for babies to fight against internal or external infections and maintain a good immune system due to its rejuvenating property.
FAQ’S about Ragi
Is it safe to consume Ragi during Pregnancy?
Yes, it is perfectly safe. Ragi can be eaten during pregnancy as it is a great source of essential vitamins and minerals, which are beneficial for the child as well. Regular and controlled consumption of Ragi before or post-pregnancy has proven to be beneficial for the mother and the baby.
Is Ragi safe for the skin?
Yes, Ragi may be good for the skin. Ragi contains certain essential amino acids that keep the skin healthy. It slows down aging by inhibiting the formation of collagen as cross-linking. It also keeps the skin moisturized and prevents acne formation.
Is Ragi good for your eyes?
Ragi is good for your eyes. The presence of polyphenols in the seed coat of Ragi has potent anti-cataract activity. Regular consumption of Ragi can reduce the risk of cataracts.
Is Ragi beneficial for providing energy?
Ragi has a good amount of carbs, protein, and good quality unsaturated fat. It will help fuel your body and brain. It can be eaten as a pre/post-workout meal from time to time. If you are experiencing fatigue, a bowl of Ragi boosts your energy levels instantly. It improves your athletic performance and also helps in increasing your endurance.
Ragi also helps in relaxing the body naturally due to the tryptophan content, thus reducing anxiety, headache, and depression.
Does Ragi battle Anemia?
Ragi is considered a great food for anemic patients and individuals with low hemoglobin levels as it is considered a great source of iron. Hemoglobin is a protein present in red blood cells that is responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body. Also, Ragi is a good source of thiamine, which increases the production of red blood cells.
Is it good for lactating mothers?
Breastfeeding mothers will have increased breast milk production who consume Ragi as a part of their daily diet. This enhances milk production due to the presence of amino acids, calcium, and iron, which are also beneficial for the child.