Eleusine coracana is an annual plant widely grown as a cereal in the arid areas of Africa and Asia. Earliest Karnataka civilisation shows it was grown in Hallur in the later Iron Age. It remains one of the main ingredients of the staple diet in Konkan region of Maharashtra and Karnataka.
Finger millet have been cultivated in India from as far back as 4000 years ago. Now the Indian states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Konkan region of Maharashtra produce ragi. Karnataka is the top producer of Ragi and has 58% share in India’s export of this crop. In Maharashtra it’s called as Nagali(नागली) or Nachani.
Benefits of ragi or nachni or Nagali.
- Rich in calcium. No other cereal comes close to ragi when it comes to calcium content. Calcium is a significant factor when it comes to bone development and prevention of osteoporosis.
- Rich in Iron. Ragi is an excellent plant based source of Iron that helps in increasing blood formation in persons suffering from anemia or low hemoglobin levels. Vitamin C increases the level of iron absorption in the body and therefore it is best to have sprouted Ragi in the form of Ragi flour or Ragi malt. .Sprouted Ragi contains vitamin C that makes the iron present in it easily absorbable by the body
- Suitable for diabetics. Ragi has a low glycemic index suitable for diabetics. Ragi has also high content of dietary fibers and polyphenols. The high level of fibers in Ragi slows down the pace of digestion thereby helping in lowering blood sugar levels
- Lower cholesterol levels. Ragi helps lower cholesterol levels in the blood; this leads to less plaque formation, prevents the blocking of blood vessels, and hence reduces the risk of hypertension and stroke. The key amino acids Lecithin and Methionine present in the cereal helps in lowering cholesterol by extracting and cutting out excess fat from the liver, and the amino acid Threonine prevents formation of fat in the liver. Ragi, in the unripe, green form can also help in controlling high blood pressure and hypertension.
- Helps Digestion. The high level of dietary fiber in this cereal aids in proper digestion, normal bowel movement and prevents constipation. The insoluble fibers present in Ragi assists movement of food through the intestines while the insoluble fibers retain water thereby easing the passage of waste.
- Helps in weight loss. The natural fat content in ragi is lower than all other cereals. Also, this fat is in its unsaturated form. Thus, substituting it for wheat and rice is a good choice for people trying to lose weight. It also contains an amino acid called tryptophan which reduces appetite.