Note to readers: Ancient Wisdom is a series of guides that shines a light on age-old wisdom that has helped people for generations with time-honoured wellness solutions to everyday fitness problems, persistent health issues and stress management, among others. Through this series, we try to provide contemporary solutions to your health worries with traditional insights.
Many ancient crops are making their way back to our daily diets thanks to their impressive nutritional profile and the trend of people choosing holistic wellness over sinful indulgences. Jowar or Sorghum is one of such thousands year old millets that has many essential nutrients like iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, protein, complex carbohydrate, fibre, apart from a truckload of phytochemicals that can aid weight loss, promote heart health, control blood sugar and cut cholesterol. Jowar also has vitamins thiamine, niacin, folate and riboflavin that can help achieve overall health and stamina. Eating jowar on regular basis is also beneficial for your digestive system as it can meet 48% dietary fibre requirement of an adult and can keep bloating, constipation, indigestion, cramping and other gastronomical troubles at bay.
Jowar also has anti-cancer properties due to the presence of amazing antioxidants that can reduce oesophagal cancer and stomach cancer risk. This happens because these antioxidants help one get rid of the free radicals that promote the formation of cancer cells. As per journal Nutrition, consuming jowar can significantly reduce the LDL cholesterol levels. Having jowar can also keep blood sugar levels in check as it regulates insulin sensitivity and is considered a moderate glycaemic index grain.
“Jowar or sorghum an ancient millet is nutritionally comparable to major cereals and has many health protective properties that encourage its consumption. Jowar comes in many varieties. Some may be used for animal feed, syrups, as an alternative to molasses, while the flour is incorporated into food industry to make various foods such as gluten free flour, bakery foods etc. It can be used as popped or flaked cereals and as a replacement to rice. It is used to make many traditional delights like upma, porridge, pancakes, khichdi and malted beverages. It is also used to produce alcoholic beverages.” says Dietitian Priya Palan.
Health benefits of jowar or sorghum
Priya Palan says jowar has a power packed nutrient profile.
- It’s a good source of plant-based proteins that helps to meet the protein requirement for vegan diets.
- It’s rich in fibre that helps to manage weight, reduce cholesterol and maintain blood sugar levels.
- High levels of antioxidants such as flavonoids help to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in our body.
- A good source of magnesium and B complex vitamins, they help to maintain good bone, skin and hair health.
- It acts as an energy booster and encourages good gut health. It is naturally gluten free making it a healthy option for people sensitive to gluten.
Jowar is a relatively safe cereal grain to be consumed, however any symptoms of allergies or intolerance by any individual must be immediately addressed by a doctor. Millets like Jowar serve as good source of protein, micronutrients and phytochemicals that helps to maintain good health.
“One can have jowar rotis on a regular basis. Adding this gluten-free grain promotes weight loss, controls blood sugar levels, prevents cancer, and enhances gut and heart health. Thus, one can include this humble millet in the diet regimen to harness its incredible health benefits,” says Dr Avik Roy, Golf view healthcare & Research Institute, MBBS, MD, DNB 1, CCEBDM, ccdm, ccgm, ccigc, ccdr, ccgdm, Consultant, Diabetology and Geriatric medicine.
How was jowar consumed in ancient times
“The desi weight loss food apart from being consumed as roti, dosa or cheela, was also eaten in its raw form and doesn’t need much cooking. For diabetics, it is a healthy choice as it is considered a complex carbohydrate and takes time to digest thus not shooting up blood sugar levels,” says Dr Roy.
“Jowar has a rich history dating back thousands of years. In ancient times, it was a staple food source for many cultures, particularly in Africa and India. It was typically consumed as a whole grain, unleavened bread, or porridge. The versatility of jowar made it a dietary cornerstone for countless communities. The grain’s resilience and ability to grow in arid regions meant that it could sustain populations through challenging conditions. In India, jowar was ground into flour to create traditional unleavened flatbreads known as ‘bhakri’ or ‘rotla.’ These nutritious breads were and still are an integral part of diets in rural areas. It was also used to make porridge or as an ingredient in various regional dishes. Its consumption was a testament to its adaptability and nutrition, providing essential sustenance to generations,” says Dr Mitali Rakhit, Ohio Hospital.
Ways to add jowar to your diet
“One can make jowar roti or toss it in veggies and make upma. You can also swap rice and use jowar instead to make dosa or idli. If one loves sweet dishes more than savoury, then try jowar pancake or jowar laddoo,” says Dr Roy.
According to Arpita Bose, Dietician at Ohio Hospital in Newtown, Kolkata, “In recent years, jowar’s resurgence as a superfood has sparked interest in its culinary applications.”
Here are a few ways to introduce this nutritious grain into your diet:
Jowar roti: Just like in ancient times, you can incorporate jowar flour into your daily meals by making jowar roti. These unleavened flatbreads are not only delicious but also gluten-free.
Jowar upma: Swap out traditional grains for jowar in your morning routine. Jowar upma is a flavourful and healthy alternative to the usual semolina upma.
Jowar salad: Toasted jowar grains make for a crunchy and nutritious addition to salads. They add a delightful texture and are a source of complex carbohydrates.
Jowar flour baking: Jowar flour is ideal for baking, making it easy to create gluten-free cookies, cakes, and bread.
Jowar porridge: Cook jowar grains with milk or water, add your favourite fruits and nuts, and enjoy a hearty and nourishing breakfast.”
Who shouldn’t have jowar?
“If one eats too much of ragi or jowar, there is a high chance that you may feel bloated and gassy. If you have kidney stones, avoid eating these grains as they may complicate the problems. Overconsumption of these grains may lead to weight gain,” says Dr Roy.
“While jowar is a nutritious grain with numerous health benefits, it may not be suitable for everyone. People with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should avoid jowar that is not certified gluten-free, as cross-contamination may occur during processing. Additionally, those with kidney stones should consume jowar in moderation due to its oxalate content, which could contribute to stone formation,” says Dr Jayati Rakhit, MD, FACC, Clinical Director and Co-Founder at Ohio Hospital.
Interesting facts about jowar
“Jowar is an important crop providing food, feed and fodder in the arid and semi-arid tropics of the world. It is a staple food for the rural poor in the country and African countries. It is primarily used as livestock feed and as industrial use in USA and other developed countries,” says Dr Roy.
Diverse varieties: Jowar comes in various colours, including white, red, and yellow. Each variety has its unique nutritional profile.
Rich in nutrients: Jowar is a nutrient powerhouse, boasting an abundance of dietary fibre, essential minerals like magnesium and phosphorus, and B vitamins.
Resilient crop: Jowar is drought-tolerant and can thrive in challenging environments, making it a crucial food source in many arid regions worldwide.
Animal feed: Apart from its human consumption, jowar is widely used as animal feed due to its nutritional content.
Biofuel potential: Jowar is being explored as a potential biofuel source, contributing to sustainable and environmentally friendly energy production.
Next in series
Did you enjoy reading the eighteenth part of our series on Ancient Wisdom? Part 19 which discusses benefits of honey will be out on October 23. Stay tuned.
Courtesy – www.hindustantimes.com