A new wave of alternative food and beverages are redefining “Healthy Diet”. A variety of Whole grains are at the forefront of this trend. Besides Brown rice and Wheat Whole grains like Millets and Quinoa have gained popularity in recent times. Along with hearty tastes and textures, they are immensely nutritious. Research shows, The global whole grain foods market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.7% between 2017 and 2021. Despite increased interest Studies shows that consumers are confused about how much of these grains should be consumed, which one to use and how to use. Big food companies are encashing this trend by incorporating Millets and Quinoa in their products.
Millet vs. Quinoa :The similarities
1) Let us compare the nutritional profile of Quinoa and Millets.
Table 1: Comparison of the macronutrient content of millet and quinoa
(100grams of edible portion)
|TOTAL DIETARY FIBRE (grams)||CARBOHYDRATE|
Table 2: Comparison of the mineral content of millet and quinoa
|WHOLE GRAIN (100 grams of edibles portion)||CALCIUM|
|MAGNESIUM (mg)||PHOSPHOROUS (mg)||POTASSIUM|
Table 3: Comparison of the vitamin content of millet and quinoa
(100 GRAMS OF EDIBLE PORTION)
|ALPHA TOCOPHEROL EQUIVALENT|
Reference – INDIAN FOOD COMPOSITION, National Institute Of Nutrition (ICMR -2017) BY T. Longvah, R.Ananthan, K.Bhaskarachary, K.Venkaiah.
As seen above both Quinoa and Millets are good sources of proteins, minerals like Calcium and Magnesium, Vitamins especially Vitamin B complex, and Fiber.
2) Both Quinoa and Millets are Gluten-free grains. Gluten is a protein present in grains like Wheat, Barley, and Oats. People suffering from celiac disease must eliminate gluten foods from their diet. Certain individuals are gluten sensitive by nature for whom a small amount of gluten can upset their health. Also, few people follow an elimination diet for detox. Quinoa and Millets can be the best alternative for people who are looking for gluten-free grains. (1) (2) (3) (4)
3) Quinoa and Millets are both good sources of antioxidants. The antioxidants help in the removal of free radicals and protect heart health and overall health.
4) Both Quinoa and Millet have a low Glycemic Index. Quinoa GI=53; Millets GI ranges from 48 to 70 for different millets. Due to good fiber and magnesium, they are good options for diabetic patients. (5) (6) (7) (8)
5) Both Quinoa and Millets can be grown in extreme climates with minimum water. Quinoa is native to South American countries, Canada, and European Countries whereas Millets are widely grown in many states of India and Africa. (9) (10)
6) Both Quinoa and Millets can be cooked in the same way. Soak the grains in advance and wash them thoroughly before cooking. Malting and Sprouting these grains have proven to be beneficial. (11)
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Millets vs. Quinoa :The differences
Inspite of so many similarities Quinoa and Millets are different from each other. Let’s find out how?
1) Quinoa is tiny seeds of a tall herb called Chenopodium quinoa. It belongs to the Amaranthaceae family and is related to spinach and beet whereas Millets are small-grained, annual, warm-weather cereals belonging to the Poaceae grass family.
2) Millets have a slightly nutty flavor that gets enhanced after roasting while Quinoa tastes more like cooked brown rice or oats. It’s very creamy in texture. If the saponin layer is not washed out properly it may taste bitter too.
3) Quinoa is round in shape it comes in white, black, and red colors. Millets are slightly smaller than Quinoa and round in shape, they come in white, green, yellow, red, and brown colors.
4) One of the major differences is Price!! Yes, millets are more reasonable in price compared to Quinoa. For example, 1 kg millet is around rupees 70/- in India whereas 1 kg Quinoa is rupees 350/- approximately in India.
5) Millets have a goitrogenic property which makes it unsafe for consumption for people having hypothyroid or hyperthyroid or other thyroid-related issues. Quinoa is completely safe for thyroid patients as it does not have goitrogens. In fact, due to good protein content, it is recommended for thyroid patients.
6) Nutritionally the major differences between Quinoa and Millet are their amino acid profiles. Quinoa is a complete protein whereas Millet is not. Quinoa provides all the 9 essential amino acids which our body cannot produce. Lysine is one of the essential amino acids which lacks in millets. Thus Quinoa is one of the best vegetarian protein sources which provides complete protein.
7) Quinoa is high in calcium and oxalates (in its outer covering) which may become responsible for kidney stone formation. So patients with kidney stones should avoid Quinoa whereas millets can be consumed safely. All millets except ragi can be consumed by patients suffering from kidney stones. It is always advisable to consult your physician or dietician before including new grains in your diet.
How much millet or quinoa is safe to consume?
Do not shift completely to one grain for a whole lifetime. Include a variety of grains, vegetables, and fruits to have a balance in the diet. You can include Quinoa or Millets 4-5 times a week in one meal. Moderation is the key to any food. Millets are the best breakfast option. Soak millets overnight and consume them in the morning as breakfast like ragi balls, foxtail millet dosa, little millet idly, Jowar roti or it can be taken as a beverage like ragi malt or bajra kheer. Quinoa can be conveniently taken with vegetables and salads.
Millet or Quinoa : Points to remember
- Do not mix two or three millets for a cuisine.
- When introducing for the first time take it slow. Start with small quantity like 1 tablespoon and increase gradually as your gut gets adjusted to it.
- Always prefer unpolished and unadulterated grains over a fully polished one.
- Keep yourself well hydrated while having millets or quinoa as both of them are high in fiber and can cause bloating and constipation or diarrhea.
- Soak in prior and wash thoroughly before cooking Quinoa and Millets.
Quinoa and Millets are great gluten-free options to include in our meal. Apart from being tasty, they are immensely nutritious with good Protein, Fiber, and minerals. Both of them come with their share of health benefits and side effects. Depending on your health goals, taste preferences, and daily dietary requirements you can select any of them or both in your diet. Do not forget to keep alignment between your diet and the nature around you. Prefer locally grown grains over imported ones. This not only helps you to build good immunity against local infections but it will help our farmers and boom the country’s economy. Always consult your dietitian or Physician before including Quinoa or Millet if you have any persistent health issues.