Ragi Finger Millet ‘Nachni’ Flour- Health Benefits, Nutrition and Side-effects

Ragi (Eleusine coracana), also called Finger Millet in English or Nachni in north India, is a coarse food grain grown in Asia and Africa. It can be grown all through the year, does well in the drought prone regions and can even be grown at altitudes of more than 2000 meters as well. This makes it a sustainable food crop. It is native to Ethiopian and Ugandan Highlands region about 4000 years ago, however archaeological site in Africa dates back to 8th century AD. 

A wonder gluten free grain; ragi offers amazing health benefits especially for people who have wheat allergies and are gluten intolerant.

Ragi is an annually cultivated crop. In India, there are two species of finger millet Eleusine indica and Eleusine coracana. In India, it is grown mostly in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand. However, it is consumed in states of Rajasthan, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Goa. In other states, the consumption is less but is increasing with every passing year and people become more aware of the nutrition it brings in the diet.

Ragi can be used as a whole grain or as flour. Ragi flour is made by either crushing the dried ragi grains or by spouting, drying and then grinding them.


Milling of Ragi//Finger Millet

It is not easy for bran to be separated from the endosperm of the ragi grain. The seed of ragi is of very small size and even commercial milling is not easy. For this reason, it is mostly ground with bran which contains oil. Therefore, the flour of whole ragi grain has less storage life.

Ragi is malted as well which is also called germination of the seed so that enzymes can be used to convert starch to sugar. Ragi has good malting activity which is used for making alcoholic beverages.


Different ways of consuming Ragi

Ragi flour can be mixed with milk, boiled water or yogurt. It can be made into flat breads such as dosas and rotis. Papads and Noodles are also quite popular. It is also used for making cakes, pudding and/or porridge. 

It can also be fermented to make beer or other alcoholic beverages, or made into nice Ragi Malt health drink with milk, or even hot soup. In Tamil Nadu, the dishes made with ragi are prepared during festive occasions of Goddess Kali. Sweet ladoos made of ragi are also quite common. 


Nutritional Value

Ragi is an excellent source of protein and minerals. Finger millet/Ragi is a rich source of calcium, iron, and potassium. It contains several important amino acids. It has negligible amounts of sodium and cholesterol. 

Calories370KJ
Water 0%
 Fat 1.5g
 Carbohydrate 88g
 Fibre 3g
 Ash 2.7g
Calcium 410mg
 Phosphorus 290mg
 Iron 12.6mg
 Magnesium 0mg
 Sodium 0mg
 Potassium 0mg
 Zinc 0mg
Vitamins  
A 0.48mg
 Thiamine (B1) 0.33mg
 Riboflavin (B2) 0.11mg
 Niacin 1.2mg
 B6 0mg
 C 0mg

100 gm of ragi contains 328 calories, 72 gm of carbohydrates, 11.5 gm of fibre, 7.3 gm of proteins, 408 mg of potassium, 344 mg of calcium, 283 mg of phosphorus, 137 mg of magnesium, 11 mg of sodium, 3.9 mg of iron, 5.49 mg of manganese, 2.3 mg of zinc, 0.47 mg of copper, 0.42 mg of thiamine, 0.19 mg of riboflavin, and 1.1 mg of niacin.


Possible Health Benefits of Ragi/Finger Millet…

1/5. Maintains bone health

1. Ragi contains high amounts of calcium and vitamin D. Calcium along with vitamin D aids in strengthening the bones. 

2. Ragi helps maintain bone health in adults and helps in bone development in growing children. Thereby, ragi prevents bone complaints and may reduce the risk of fractures. 

3. Ragi is effective in averting osteoporosis and bone erosion.


2/5. Helps in anaemia

Consumption of Ragi helps in treating anaemia as Ragi is a good source of natural iron. The vitamin C content of Ragi helps increase iron absorption. 


3/5. Reduces high cholesterol levels

1. The amino acids lecithin and methionine present in ragi help in lowering cholesterol levels by removing excess fat from the liver. 

2. Ragi also contains threonine which prevents the formation of fat in the liver thus, reducing the cholesterol levels. 

3. The fiber and niacin content of ragi aids in accelerating the ‘good’ cholesterol levels and in reducing the ‘bad’ cholesterol levels. Thus, preventing plaque deposition in the heart and reducing the risk to stroke and other heart diseases.


4/5. Reduces diabetes risk

1. The polyphenol and dietary fiber content of Ragi lowers the risk of diabetes mellitus.

2. Finger millet has a low glycemic response i.e. decreases the ability to increase the levels of blood sugar. 


5/5. Other possible benefits…

Apart from the above-mentioned benefits, Ragi has a few more health benefits namely, aids weight loss, helps in relaxing the body, boosts nervous system function, helpsirritable bowel syndrome, reverts skin ageing, prevents cancer, helps digestion, increases lactation, improves skin health, aids healthy pregnancy, and prevents malnutrition.

A wonder gluten free grain; ragi offers amazing health benefits especially for people who have wheat allergies and are gluten intolerant.


How to use Ragi?

Ragi can be used in various forms and various ways, some of them are as follows:

  • Ragi roti, 
  • Ragi malt,
  • Ragi ladoo, 
  • Ragi halwa,
  • Ragi cookies,
  • Ragi pancakes,
  • Ragi juice/milkshake,
  • Ragi khichdi/porridge,
  • Ragi rava idli/upma/dosa.

How to prepare Ragi and Milk porridge?

Take 1 cup of milk in a pan and warm it, on medium flame.

Lower the flame and add 2 tbsp ragi flour, 2 tsp cardamom powder, and 1 tbsp crushed almonds. While adding, continuously keep stirring, to avoid lumps.

Switch off the heat and keep it aside.

As per the taste, add honey.

Your ragi and milk porridge are ready.


Side-effects of Ragi Flour

One of the major drawbacks of ragi flour is that it can lead to formation of kidney stones or urinary calculi because of the presence of high levels of calcium in the flour. High calcium levels increase the levels of oxalic acid which result in formation of stones. Therefore, the people who experience frequent formation of kidney stones should best avoid eating ragi food products.

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