Wondergrains

4: Millet

Millet is thought to be one of the first cultivated cereals, dating back as much as 7,000 years to ancient Asia and Africa, where it still grows wild. There is evidence it was cultivated in Switzerland during the Stone Age, and it has been eaten in Northern Europe since the Iron Age. Indeed, during the European Middle Ages, it was the staple grain of the region. Millet is the small, round seed of several varieties of grass, most popularly Pennisetum glaucum, which is extremely hardy in hot and dry climates and poor soils. Now mostly grown in Africa and India, millet is still found in many cuisines around the world: in South Asia it is made into flatbreads such as chapatti and roti. It has a soft, creamy texture and is easy to digest, is higher in calories than wheat, and is full of heart-protecting nutrients like magnesium and phosphorus. Studies have shown that magnesium is also effective in protecting against Type II diabetes, and millet promotes a steady rise in blood glucose levels.

(c) PD-USDA-ARS

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