Diabetes Type 2 Worries? Millets May be the Answer

What's a millet? It's a gluten-free grain that lowers blood sugar levels and cholesterol.

James R. Hood
James R. Hood

Type 2 diabetes is sort of the curse of affluent society. It tends to afflict those who, like most of us, eat too much fatty food and spend too much time couch-surfing. Now a study finds that millets may be a partial solution.

And what, you say, are millets? They're what is often called an ancient grain. Simply put, a millet is a gluten-free whole grain that's loaded with protein, fiber and anti-oxidants. It can be used in baking, cereals and as a substitute for rice.

It should come as no surprise, then, that a new study confirms that millets can help control blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The study, drawing on research from 11 countries, was published today in Frontiers in Nutrition. It found that diabetic people who consumed millet as part of their daily diet saw their blood glucose levels drop 12-15% and blood glucose levels went from diabetic to pre-diabetes levels.

“Millets are grown on all inhabited continents, yet they remain a ‘forgotten food’" -- Rosemary Botha, a co-author of the study.

Pre-diabetic to normal

In pre-diabetic individuals, blood glucose levels went from pre-diabetic to normal status. These findings affirm that eating millets can lead to a better glycemic response.

“Awareness of this ancient grain is just starting to spread globally, and our review shows millets having a promising role in managing and preventing type 2 diabetes," said Prof. Ian Givens, a co-author of the study and Director at University of Reading’s Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health in the UK.

"Compared to other grains such as refined rice, maize and wheat we found that millets outperform their comparison crops with lower GI and lower blood glucose levels in participants,” Givens said.

An earlier study found that millets can help lower cholesterol levels. A study in mice with type 2 diabetes fed them a high fat diet with millet protein concentrate, leading to a decrease in triglyceride levels and significant increase in adiponectin and HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

How to prepare millets

Millet is a versatile ingredient that makes a good rice replacement when cooked whole.

Millet Recipes
Looking for millet recipes? Allrecipes has more than 20 trusted millet recipes complete with ratings, reviews, and cooking tips.

Preparing it is similar to rice, oatmeal or other common grains. Just add 2 cups of water or broth per 1 cup of raw millet. Bring it to a boil, then simmer it for 20 minutes.

It's best to soak it overnight, or you can toast it in a pan before cooking to enhance its nutty taste, Healthline recommends.

Millet is also sold as a flour and can be used to make bread, pancakes and muffins.

You can find plenty of other recipes at Foodnetwork.com and AllRecipes.com.

Health

James R. Hood

Jim is a publishing entrepreneur and journalist. He founded ConsumerAffairs in 1998 and earlier was the founder of Zapnews, after holding executive posts at the Associated Press.