Cereals- our companion to give us the energy we need in our daily lives. Since ages, cereals have been the source of innumerable health benefits to mankind. However, we have always sidelined them in our hectic lifestyles. Cereals provide us with energy, fibre, vitamins and minerals. They are an excellent source of B-Vitamins (niacin, riboflavin and thiamine). The presence of soluble fibre in them helps in lowering blood cholesterol levels as well as keeping heart diseases at bay.
With such immense benefits, their roles in their lives is a primary one. However, in today’s’ lifestyle, we see a greater use of wheat and rice only!! Where have all the other cereals disappeared? Why don’t we use ragi , bajra, jowar and quinoa? These are actually our ancestor cereals- no wonder our ancestors were much more healthier than the todays clan! Their day’s diet would surely include either a Jowar or Bajra Rotla (the bigger version of a chapatti) with a protein rich dal and a bowl of veggies! This would ensure their daily requirement of nutrients. Hence, let’s know more about these ancestor cereals and their health benefits:
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Ragi: A vitamin and mineral –rich grain, it is filled with iron, phosphorus, calcium and potassium. Infact, it has a greater amount of calcium as compared to the other cereals. That the reason we include a ragi porridge for our infants and the senior clan (easy to make and swallow!) Calcium improves the bone density (involved in the infants growth and development) and reduces the risk of joint pains, knee pains and fracture (since seniors are at a higher risks of these health conditions).
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Bajra: Why is that Bajra is made only in the winters? Apart from imparting heat to the body, it has other added health benefits which we tend to overlook! The niacin content in this wonder cereal helps to reduce cholesterol and maintain a healthy heart! Also, the insoluble fibre present in Bajra helps to improve digestion and stool formation. Replacing your wheat roti’s with Bajra bhakri’s , at least twice a week, would be beneficial for your family.
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Jowar: Jowar, also known as Sorghum, has a larger content of calcium as compared to wheat and rice. Also, the polyphenolic compounds present in Jowar make them a good source of antioxidants for the body. However, one must be careful of the presence of tannins and other compounds in the outer covering of this seed which hinders the absorption of calcium, iron and protein from the seed. One cup of Jowar contains approximately 8.45mgs of iron, which is essential for adequate oxygen supply to all the body cells and also to prevent iron deficiency called anaemia (most prevalent among women). Hence, toss few Jowar seeds in your salad OR mix the flour with your daily roti flour to enjoy its health benefits! Ensure to add a dash of vitamin C ( lemon juice) or to consume some non-vegetarian meat to increase the absorption of iron in the body.
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Buckwheat: All of us familiar with the ‘kuttu ka atta’, right? But, how often do we consume in our diets? Buckwheat flour is often used during the HINDU fast, is a very good source of carbs as well as proteins- with a good amino acid profile, required for building bones and muscles. Also, it has appreciable amounts of zinc, manganese, iron and magnesium that improve the body’s’ immunity and help in fighting against various diseases! These are few of the primary reasons why is buckwheat allowed during fasts!
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Quinoa: A new breed of cereal which is creating a hype today is QUINOA! It is a gluten free cereal which suits people with celiac disease. Also, it is one of the rare plant foods that contains all 9 essential amino acids in it! Flavonoids like quercetin and kaempferol are excellent antioxidants that increase the body’s’ immunity to a great extent! Quinoa is also a fairly good source of iron, magnesium zinc and potassium. Being a good source of protein and energy, it serves as a perfect, balanced meal for lunch OR dinner. Toss this healthy grain with a lot of veggies in your salad OR simply make a Veg pulao out of it (you can surely add tofu OR chicken with it!)
Hence, now we have immense reasons to include a variety of cereals in our daily routine so that we can get the maximum benefit out of them! Why stick to only a few of the common ones? Let’s make our diet a healthier and a tastier one from today!
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