Nutraceutical and Food Processing Properties of Millets: A Review

Review Article

Austin J Nutri Food Sci. 2016; 4(1): 1077.

Nutraceutical and Food Processing Properties of Millets: A Review

Singh E* and Sarita

Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Banasthali University, India

*Corresponding author: Ekta Singh, Department of Food Science & Nutrition, Faculty of Home Science, Banathali University, Tonk, Rajasthan, India

Received: February 22, 2016; Accepted: May 12, 2016; Published: May 19, 2016


Millet grains have substantial benefits as a draught resistant crop, yield good productivity in the areas with water scarcity, possesses remarkable edible & nutritive values, and ease of processing & food manufacturing. Agriculture & Food security policymakers of developing countries should give due attention in promoting the research work & projects for studying the processing, food manufacturing, improvement in nutritive values and potential health benefits of the millet grains to promote their utilization as food in respective countries. Most of the developing countries have already started working in the field of improvement of edible potential of millet grains. Millet oil could be a good source of linoleic acid and tocopherols. Millet is an alkaline forming grain that is glutenfree. Millets are also rich sources of phytochemicals and micronutrients, play many roles in the body immune system. Millets have nutraceutical properties in the form of antioxidants which prevent deterioration of human health such as lowering blood pressure, risk of heart disease, prevention of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, decreasing tumor cases etc. Other health benefits are increasing the time span of gastric emptying, provides roughage to gastro intestine. Millet is an alkaline forming food. Alkaline based diet is often recommended to achieve optimal health. In developing country, cereal-based foods have low bioavailability of minerals like iron, zinc initiate critical problem for infants and young children. Food processing techniques are used to enhance nutritional quality, improve the digestibility and bioavailability of food nutrients with reducing anti-nutrients. This study undertakes to concern and developing specific agenda for these crops which must be recognized as an important food and introduce the millets as a nutritious food, fulfillment of the nutritional need of global population and combat malnutrition.

Keywords: Phytochemicals; Anti-nutrients; Probiotic & prebiotic; Glutenfree


Nutritional quality of food is the most important parameter for maintaining human health and complete physical well being. Since nutritional well being is the driving force for development and maximization of human genetic potential [1]. Dietary quality of food should be taken into consideration for maintaining overall maximization of human health and fitness to solving the problem of deep rooted malnutrition. Diversification of food production must be encouraged both at national and household level in tandem with increasing yields and household techniques [2]. Some of the agricultural foods are not using as human main food because of unawareness of people. Millets are one of them. Millets are being used as animal and bird feed. Millet has many nutritious and medical functions reported by Yang, et al. [3]. These are underutilized and neglected crop because of little knowledge to people and some critical problems like lower cooking quality, taste and low bioavailability of millets. These problems can be solved and make them valuable as food for poor families to combat malnutrition and important source of income.

Millet is a very important crop with following characteristics: millet is known to be a drought-resistant crop, resistance to pests and diseases, short growing season as compared to other major cereals [4]. Due to above mentioned advantageous characteristics; millet grains are receiving specific attention in the developing countries (like India, China & some countries from Africa Continent) in terms of utilization as food. Some developed countries are also giving due attention to millet grains in terms of its good potential in the manufacturing of bioethanol and biofilms [5]. Millets are important food crop in developing countries. Millets contain major and minor nutrients in remarkable amount. This study emphasized on millet recognized as high-energy nutritious food to help in reducing malnutrition, nourishing the common population and to help in preventing and curing the diseases like obesity, diabetes, CVD, etc. Millet is gluten-free food. Millet can be a substitute for celiac patients.

FAO, (2012) reported that traditional food processing (such as decortications, milling, germination, fermentation, malting roasting etc.) are commonly used for preparation of food products of millets to improve their edible, nutritional, and sensory properties [6]. But negative changes of millets are not avoidable because industrial method of processing are not well develop compare to other cereal. Mal, et al. suggested that millets can be source of value-added healthy food-products with different varieties for traditional and nontraditional millet users [7].

Production of Millets

Millets are important crops of Asia and Africa (especially in India, Nigeria and Niger), with 97% of millet production in developing countries [8]. Lu et al. reported that Millets, considered as important food staples in human history [9]. They have been in cultivation in East Asia for the last 10,000 years. India is the world’s largest producer of millet. In the 1970s, India was used as a food staple among all millet crops. By the 2000s, the annual millet production had increased in India, yet per capita consumption of millet had dropped about 50 to 75%. As of 2005, most millet produced in India is being used for alternative implications such as alcohol production and livestock fodder [10]. Indian organizations are finding ways to enhance millet use as food to increase more production and found that some consumers prefer the taste of other grains (Table 1) [11].