Harnessing the Nutritional Power and Health Benefits of Bajra

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Bajra, also known as Pearl millet, stands as a nutritional powerhouse deeply rooted in Indian agriculture and diets. This humble cereal, referred to as bajri, sajaru, or kambu across various Indian languages, has been cherished for generations. Bajra’s versatility and exceptional health benefits make it a treasured grain in India and beyond.

Rich in nutrients such as fibre, magnesium, vitamin B complex, and essential amino acids, bajra is a boon for health enthusiasts. Particularly beneficial for those on gluten-free diets, bajra presents itself as an ideal choice. As we explore bajra, we’ll uncover its rich nutritional profile and understand how it contributes to well-being. Read on to discover the wholesome goodness of bajra and its remarkable impact on health.

Nutritional Profile of Bajra 

Bajra offers a wide array of nutrients which are essential for day-to-day functioning, health and well-being. Given below is the nutritional value of 100 grams of bajra (whole):

Calories: 361 kcal

Protein: 11.6 g

Fat: 5 g

Carbohydrates: 67.5 g

Fibre: 11.3 g

Magnesium: 124 mg

Potassium: 365 mg

Calcium: 27.35 mg

Iron: 6.42 mg

Zinc: 2.76 mg

Health Benefits of Bajra 

Bajra is in itself a wholesome, nutrient-rich food item with many nutrients. Here are the top health benefits of bajra:

Good for Weight Loss 

Incorporating bajra into your diet, whether in its whole or ground form, can promote healthy weight loss. With a substantial fibre content of 11.3 grams per 100 grams, bajra takes time to digest, fostering a lasting sense of fullness that aids in weight management. 

Regular consumption of bajra for four weeks led to a 2% reduction in body mass index and a weekly weight loss of 1.2 kg among some individuals. That is because bajra boasts a low-calorie density of 1.2. These factors make it an excellent choice for those looking to shed or maintain weight.

Maintains Heart Health 

Bajra is a rich source of magnesium, a mineral known to reduce blood pressure. As a result, it lowers the risk of heart attacks and strokes and promotes overall heart health. Bajra also contains lignans, which the body converts into a substance that helps prevent plaque buildup in arteries. 

The phytic acid and fibre content of bajra contribute to its cholesterol-lowering effect. Studies also show that regular consumption of bajra, whether as whole grains or as roti, leads to significant improvements in cholesterol levels. Furthermore, selenium found in bajra possesses anti-inflammatory properties. Hence, it reduces the risk of heart disease linked to inflammation and oxidative stress.

Ideal for Digestion and Gut Health 

One of the few foods that lowers stomach pH is bajra, which helps to avoid ulcers and indigestion. Bajra’s high content of insoluble fibre functions as a prebiotic nourishment and promotes gut health. In the gut, prebiotic foods support a healthy digestive system. It prevents indigestion, gas, acidity, and stomach pain, among other things. 

People with celiac disease sometimes struggle with gluten intolerance. However, as bajra is gluten-free, it is entirely safe for them. Because of its fibre content, this millet also aids with constipation. The fibre content helps prevent constipation by giving the stool more bulk. 

Diabetic-friendly

Bajra has a glycemic load of 6.06 and a glycemic index of 54. For those who have diabetes or those who are pre-diabetic, bajra is the ideal option. Since it has a high fibre content, it helps regulate blood glucose levels and avoid frequent sugar spikes by gradually releasing glucose. Bajra is high in magnesium content and aids in reducing insulin resistance. Regular consumption of bajra, along with other magnesium-rich food, leads to a 30% reduction in blood glucose levels. 

Improves Bone Health 

Bajra has a high calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium content. All of these nutrients contribute to the preservation of strong bones and teeth. While Phosphorus boosts healthy bone development, Magnesium promotes bone strength and density. Along with these, calcium supplies the necessary structure for bone modelling.

Regular bajra consumption lowers the risk of osteoporosis and other disorders affecting the bones. As the most plentiful plant source of calcium, bajra can aid in both men’s and women’s bone health maintenance and the prevention of bone-related illnesses when taken in the proper amounts.

Perfect for Pregnant Women and Children

Bajra is an excellent source of vital minerals, amino acids, and energy. All are necessary for the fetus’s development throughout pregnancy and for the mother’s and child’s well-being even after birth. During pregnancy, constipation is a typical symptom that bajra might help with. Its high fibre content aids in increasing stool volume and eases constipation. 

Pregnant women sometimes experience weariness and fatigue. Iron and phosphorus in Bajra assist in giving the required support (squeeze some lemon juice to maximise iron absorption from bajra). The growth and development of the baby depend heavily on the essential elements found in bajra. 

Good Source of Plant Protein

The high protein content in bajra aids in the formation and regeneration of muscles and cells. Bajra helps to preserve a healthy muscular structure and inhibits the deterioration of muscles with age. Men typically have muscular degeneration or loss of muscle mass beyond the age of 50, whereas women usually experience it after menopause. 

One can mix bajra with any pulse to obtain all the essential amino acids required for the development and repair as well as reconstruction of muscles. Bajra is a convenient way for people who eat a vegan or vegetarian diet to meet their protein needs. 

Summary 

People with diabetes often avoid staple grains like white rice and wheat due to concerns about adverse effects. Bajra, with its high dietary fiber content, is a great alternative. Its fiber promotes gut health and can help control weight by keeping you feeling full for longer. Bajra also contains minerals like potassium and magnesium, supporting cardiovascular health and blood pressure regulation. It’s suitable for children and pregnant women, making it a superfood for overall health.

Best Ways to Eat Bajra

The simple and easy way is to replace the white flour or a portion of the flour with bajra flour for rotis, chapatis, breads, or flatbreads. Essential amino acids and vitamins in bajra can deteriorate when cooking bajra at high temperatures. It is also necessary to soak bajra overnight. 

Here are some easy and healthy bajra recipes:

Savoury Bajra Pancakes 

Servings: 2 

Preparation time: 10-15 minutes

Ingredients 

Bajra: 100 g (Soak it overnight)

Potato: 100 g 

Onions: 50 g

Coriander leaves: 10 g

Red chilly powder: 1 tsp

Salt: 1 tsp 

Cumin seeds: 1 tsp

Method of Preparation

Peel and grate the potatoes. 

Add bajra, onions, coriander leaves and spices, and mix well. 

Make it into a thick batter with good consistency. 

Put a small pan on a medium flame. 

Add oil. Then, add the batter to make medium-sized pancakes. 

Cook them on low heat till the pancakes turn golden brown on both sides.

Bajra Salad

Servings: 2 

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Ingredients 

Bajra: 100 g (Soaked and parboiled)

Soya chunks: 100 g (Boiled) 

Curd: 100 g

Green chillies: 3-4 pieces

Coriander leaves: 10g

Onion: 50 g 

Red bell pepper: 50 g 

Green bell pepper: 50 g 

Yellow bell pepper: 50 g 

Mixed herbs: 1 tsp (dried)

Roasted cumin powder:½ tsp 

Salt: 1 tsp

Black pepper powder: 1 tsp

Method of Preparation

Whisk the curd until smooth

Add all the other ingredients and serve fresh

Bajra Upma

Servings: 2 

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Ingredients 

Bajra: 100 g (Soak it overnight)

Ghee: 2 tsp

Mustard seeds: ½ tsp

Curry leaves: 5 pieces 

Red chilly(whole): 2 pieces

Onion: 100 g 

Ginger: 1 tsp 

Capsicum: 100 g

Tomatoes: 100 g

Coriander leaves: 10 g

Method of Preparation

In a heated pan, add ghee, mustard seeds, red chillies, curry leaves and grated ginger.

After it’s cracked, add onion and chopped tomatoes. Cook for a few minutes.

Add capsicum and bajra.

Cover it with a lid, add some water if required and let it cook for 6-8 minutes.

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Bajra Consumption: Precautionary Advice 

Before incorporating bajra into your diet, consulting a healthcare professional is advisable to determine the optimal quantity for reaping its benefits without experiencing any adverse effects.

Here are the potential side effects of bajra:

Malabsorption Syndrome

Bajra contains natural plant-based compounds known as anti-nutrients, which can hinder the absorption of essential minerals like iron and calcium. However, proper washing, soaking, germination, and cooking methods can significantly reduce these anti-nutrients. These methods ensure that the nutritional benefits of bajra outweigh any potential drawbacks.

May Worsen Thyroid Dysfunction

Bajra, like many millets, contains goitrogenic substances such as glucosyl vitexin and glycosyl orientin. Excessive consumption of bajra may interfere with thyroid function by impeding iodine absorption. Individuals at risk of hypo or hyperthyroidism, as well as those currently dealing with thyroid disorders, should seek advice from a registered medical professional before including bajra in their diets.

Summary

Bajra contains goitrogenic compounds that can affect thyroid function by hindering iodine absorption. Additionally, it includes anti-nutrients, like phytic acid, which can impact the body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients. However, proper preparation and moderation can mitigate these potential concerns, allowing you to enjoy the nutritional benefits of bajra safely.

HealthifyMe Suggestion

Have you tried Bajra Raab? It is a traditional Rajasthani drink which has been an important part of the daily diet of people for centuries. This drink is made both in summer and winters. In winters, it is served hot to keep the body warm. In summers, it is consumed cold, and keeps the body cool and protects from heat stroke. Mix 2 tsp bajra flour and 2 glasses of buttermilk in a pan, stirring continuously to avoid lumps over low heat. Let it come to a boil. Now add salt, black pepper powder, and roasted jeera powder. Let it boil for another 2-3 minutes and add chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot or cold as per the season!

Conclusion

Bajra, often referred to as Pearl millet, stands as a nutritional gem deeply rooted in Indian culture and cuisine. Its wealth of nutrients and versatile applications make it a valuable addition to one’s diet. From aiding in weight management to supporting heart health, digestion, and bone strength, Bajra offers a multitude of health benefits. It also caters to specific dietary needs, making it suitable for individuals with diabetes, pregnant women, and children. However, it’s essential to consume Bajra mindfully, following proper preparation methods and seeking professional advice when needed. By incorporating Bajra into your meals, you can harness its nutritional power and embark on a journey to improved well-being.

Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is just to disperse knowledge and raise awareness. It does not intend to replace medical advice from professionals. For further information, please contact our certified nutritionists Here.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What is the nutritional content of bajra?

A. Bajra has a variety of nutrients like magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, and vitamin B complex.

Q. How is bajra traditionally consumed in different cuisines?

A. Traditionally, bajra is used in Rajasthani and Gujarati cuisines. Bajra, being a millet, does not require much water to grow and is easily grown in semi-arid regions. In the cuisines, it is ground to flour and made into a roti served hot with desi ghee. The flour is also ideal for ladoo with jaggery. The whole bajra is best for upma khichdi and much more. 

Q. Can bajra be beneficial for heart health?

A. Yes, bajra is beneficial for heart health. It has phytic acid, which helps in lowering bad cholesterol. Magnesium helps in maintaining blood pressure. Lignans in bajra prevent the deposition of plaque in the arteries. It helps in the protection of the heart from heart attacks and strokes. 

Q. How does bajra support digestion and gut health?

A. Bajra contains insoluble fibre, which acts as a prebiotic food and helps in maintaining good gut health. Prebiotic foods help in maintaining healthy digestion and good gut health. It helps prevent gas, acidity, stomach pain, and indigestion.

Q. Is bajra a good source of dietary fibre?

A. Yes, bajra is a good source of dietary fibre. It has both soluble and insoluble fibre, which help in curbing blood sugar spikes after a meal and add bulk to the stool, thus preventing constipation. 

Q. Can bajra aid in weight management and weight loss?

A. Yes, bajra can help in weight management and weight loss. It has a calorie value of 1.2 kcal per 100 g, and it gets very slowly released from the stomach into the intestine. It takes longer to digest, keeping one feeling full for longer hours and curbs hunger cravings. 

Q. What are the potential benefits of bajra for people with diabetes?

A. Bajra has a lot of fibre, which helps in reducing sugar spikes and helps in controlling blood sugar levels. Magnesium in bajra also helps with insulin resistance.  

Q. How does bajra contribute to bone health and strength?

A. Bajra is rich in magnesium, phosphorus and calcium. These nutrients together help in maintaining good bone health. Phosphorous aids in good bone formation. At the same time, magnesium helps in bone density and strength. Calcium provides for the necessary bone modelling structure. 

Q. Can bajra be part of a gluten-free diet?

A. Yes, absolutely. Bajra is a millet and does not contain gluten. It is suitable for people with celiac disease and people who follow a gluten-free diet. 

Q. What is the impact of bajra on blood sugar levels?

A. Bajra does not raise blood sugar levels. In fact, it prevents sudden spikes in blood sugar. It is perfectly safe for people with diabetes and can be consumed either as a whole grain or flour. 

Q. How should bajra be prepared and cooked to retain its nutritional value?

A. Bajra should first be washed thoroughly, then soaked overnight for 8 – 10 hours. Then, cook bajra directly or germinate to enhance its biological value. Nutrients in germinated bajra are more easily absorbed in the body than ungerminated bajra. 

Q. Are there any concerns or allergies related to bajra consumption?

A. Bajra is generally safe for all people. However, if you experience rashes, itching, etc., on its consumption, it should be discontinued immediately. Some people may feel warm and sweaty after consuming bajra. 

Q. Can bajra be used in various recipes and cuisines?

A. Yes, bajra can be used in any recipe and cuisine. One can replace the cereal or white flour with either whole bajra or its flour, whatever the recipe calls for. 

Q. What are the potential health benefits of bajra for pregnant women and children?

A. Essential nutrients in bajra are necessary during pregnancy for the development of the fetus. Women usually face tiredness and fatigue while they are pregnant. Iron and phosphorus in Bajra help in providing essential support.

Research Sources

Data by the US department of agriculture on Millets

A Case Study on Using Millets in Daily Diet for Weight Loss

Polyphenol-enriched extract from pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) inhibits key enzymes involved in postprandial hyperglycemia (α-amylase, α-glucosidase) and regulates hepatic glucose uptake.

The nutritional use of millet grain for food and feed: a review

Potential Functional Implications of Pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) in Health and Disease

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