11

MAR
2022

KNOWLEDGE ABOUT ALL THE POPULAR WHOLE GRAINS AVAILABLE IN INDIA

KNOWLEDGE ABOUT ALL THE POPULAR WHOLE GRAINS AVAILABLE IN INDIA

Knowledge about all the popular whole grains available in India

Whole wheat

Whole wheat is one of the most versatile of all whole grains, with 30,000 known varieties. Imagine the life of the wheat seed is ten years! While it is true if you remove modern-day wheat you remove the most flagrant problem source in people’s diets, who suffer from celiac disease, an intolerance to wheat (triggering IBS-irritable bowel disorders; this does not hold for everyone. In his book, ‘Wheat Belly’ author William Davis touts wheat as the worst in carbohydrates. Today’s theorists on whole wheat think differently as they refer to the hybrid varieties of wheat. However, with India being so reliant on wheat, we can work with it if we are gluten intolerant and ca digest our wheat.

You have to know your whole wheat.

Whole wheat is something most Indians rest on heavily, it’s cheap, affordable and a staple amongst the common Indian man. 

Seasonality: It’s available all year round. 

Digestibility: You can opt for sourdough and also make it more digestible made with naturally occurring yeast; this helps people with IBS/IBD ‘Irritable bowel disorder or Irritable bowel syndrome.’Portions: two small chapatis/rotis work just fine. Or those who eat a diet high in fiber (from a wide variety of vegetables) along with moderate amounts of fats and proteins, good quality homemade baked products (bread, muffins, cookies, cakes, etc), made from partially sifted flour can be a welcome change and may be helpful, as well a satisfying. 

Time to eat it: At any meal, lunch is preferable but limited to 1 meal if possible. 

Formats of cooking: Chapati/roti/used in cakes, bread, cookies, and baking.

Tip:

Often its products that have no gluten, but have industrial starches don’t work for you: tapioca starch or potato starch for example; so, in your quest for eating gluten-free, don’t end up eating the wrong starches. Combining it with other refined flours is what changes the composition to its spiking sugars levels. Whole wheat flour that you know, had in moderation, will not do it, combined with a lentil/bean and a vegetable—in a chapati/roti format. However, a commercial bread with other stuff in it (refined flour – most often used in conjunction with wheat — even though it says multigrain) might elevate sugars.

Sorghum/Jovar (comes under the umbrella of millets)

In the Indian context, sorghum or jovar has become the panacea of a gluten-free flour option. Seasonality: it’s great in summers, as a lighter option to whole wheat, great for those who are avoiding gluten. 

Digestibility: In my opinion, jovar as a whole grain is very individual-specific; this comes from years of experience of working with this grain on my clients. It is mostly used in a chapati/roti format, and in those with mild to severe IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) issues it may/may not work. So, you’ll have to eat it a see what it does for you. 

Portions: two small chapatis/rotis work just fine Time to eat it: At any meal, lunch is preferable but limited to 1 meal if possible. 

Formats of cooking: Chapati/roti/used in cakes, bread, cookies, and baking. Combining it with other flours is what changes the composition to it spiking sugars levels.

Tip:

Sorghum/Jovar is also good sprouted, increases the protein quotient; some companies are selling it as sprouted jovar porridge, and as an independent millet, it’s hard to cook as is, it needs soaking.

Brown rice

The short-grain version is the best; followed by sister grains like red rice, black rice (richer in certain antioxidants) – all versions are good, all have approximately 70 anti-ageing antioxidants, vitamins, minerals. 

Seasonality: It’s a grain that can be heavy in Indian summer and tends to do well in the winters, but I have different versions of it at different times of the year. The red rice in summer and the long-grain basmati brown; but I also do short-grain from time to time due to its higher nutritional quotient. 

Digestibility: While there are some out there who have given brown rice a bad reputation saying that it interferes with mineral absorption due to the presence of phytates; however, you remove these by soaking it overnight and cooking it with a pinch of rock salt to make it more digestible. Amazing fiber for better bowel movements. Positive on blood sugar impact, and also when chewed provides a steady supply of sugars to the brain. 

Portions: when trying to lose weight, limit to ½ cup cooked per meal, when not then use up to 2/3rd cup cooked. 

Formats of cooking: Pilaf-style, cutlets, salads by adding vegetables, dosas, idlis.

Tip:

Combing with greens, extends its nutritional profile and is the most balancing combination.

Foxtail Millet

My experience with all millets has been great, however, foxtail millet seems to ride the highest in my scheme of helping my clients. The sugars levels are clearly superior and help with diabetics, perhaps making it the best grain for them. This is due to its positive effect on something called adiponectin (an insulin-sensitizing hormone, associated with diabetes). About 100 grams contains enough hydration, fewer calories, protein and high good quality fats, plus a high 103 g of tryptophan which aids sleep; a multitude of vitamins and minerals. Assist with many ailments: cardiac, Alzheimer’s, antioxidants, assists muscle weaknesses, joints, nerves, hair and skin. 

Seasonality: It’s a lighter grain, which makes for a good grain in summers. 

Digestibility: Highly digestible and provides good gut fiber. 

Portions: when trying to lose weight, limit to ½ cup cooked per meal, when not then use up to 2/3rd cup cooked. 

Formats of cooking: Made into a pilaf style, added to salads, cutlets, upma, dosas, idlis; it’s a versatile grain and when milled into flour can be used across any Indian dish that requires it.

Finger millet/Ragi/Nachni

Ragi also called nachni in India stands apart from other millets due to its high calcium quotient. Also, it comes under the gluten-free range of whole grains, so works great for people with an intolerance to wheat. 

Seasonality: It’s a heavier grain and is preferred in the winters, however those who use it in a roti can use it for variety in summers as well. 

Digestibility: Highly digestible and provides good gut fiber; however difficult for those with severe IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome). 

Portions: two small chapatis/rotis work just fine; or a bowl of porridge made with ½ cup flour. Time to eat it: At any meal, lunch is preferable but limited to 1 meal if. 

Formats of cooking: Made into chapatis/rotis, dosas, idlis or a porridge.

Pearl millet (bajra)

Bajra stands apart for a higher iron content (so great for you if you have anaemia) than most other whole grains. It is gluten-free, making it great for those with an intolerance to gluten. 

Seasonality: It’s a heavier grain, but had in summers as well as its cooling (it cultivated in Rajasthan extensively in a desert). 

Digestibility: Highly digestible and provides good gut fiber; however difficult for those with severe IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome and digestion. 

Portions: two small chapatis/rotis work just fine; or a bowl of porridge made with ½ cup flour. 

Time to eat it: At any meal, lunch is preferable but limit to 1 meal if. 

Formats of cooking: Made into chapatis/rotis, dosas, idlis or a porridge, added to lassi to make bajra lassi in summers as it is a coolant and when milled into flour can be used across any Indian dish that requires it.

Proso Millet

Its protein has also been associated with the natural ability to protect against any liver injury. I have healed a liver cyst in a client with a liver cyst using this millet and combining it with other food groups. It is gluten-free, making it great for those with an intolerance to gluten. Also, millet is known to show positive effects for diabetics. This is due to its positive effect on something called adiponectin (an insulin-sensitizing hormone, associated with diabetes). Its protein has also been associated with the natural ability to protect against any liver injury. I have healed a liver cyst in a client with a liver cyst using this millet. 

Seasonality: It’s a lighter grain, which makes for a good grain in summers. 

Digestibility: Highly digestible and provides good gut fiber. 

Portions: when trying to lose weight, limit to ½ cup cooked per meal, when not then use up to 2/3rd cup cooked. 

Formats of cooking: Made into a pilaf style, added to salads, cutlets, upma, dosas, idlis; it’s a versatile grain, and when milled into flour can be used across any Indian dish that requires it.

Kodo millet

Stands apart due to its lecithin content. It is gluten-free, making it great for those with an intolerance to gluten. Also, millet is known to show positive effects for diabetics. 

Seasonality: It’s a lighter grain, which makes for a good grain in summers. 

Digestibility: Highly digestible and provides good gut fiber. 

Portions: when trying to lose weight, limit to ½ cup cooked per meal, when not then use up to 2/3rd cup cooked. 

Formats of cooking: Made into a pilaf style, added to salads, cutlets, upma, dosas, idlis; it’s a versatile grain, and when milled into flour can be used across any Indian dish that requires it.

Barnyard millet

Its composition of nutrients is the same across all millets, impacting sugar levels positively, and being gluten-free and across the rest of the variables below. But barnyard millet has one unique feature; in that, because it tastes almost close to broken rice when cooked, it’s a tiny white round grain it feels like you are eating white rice. 

Seasonality: It’s a lighter grain, which makes for a good grain in summers. 

Digestibility: Highly digestible and provides good gut fiber; grains are produced faster when grown. 

Portions: when trying to lose weight, limit to ½ cup cooked per meal, when not then use up to 2/3rd cup cooked. 

Formats of cooking: Made into a pilaf style, added to salads, cutlets, upma, dosas, idlis; it’s a versatile grain, and when milled into flour can be used across any Indian dish that requires it.

Barley (Jov)

Barley is not gluten-free (has a gluten analogue), but still very nutrient-dense, and excellent for the liver (that’s why it’s used to help with jaundice). It’s packed with all the benefits of whole grain; however, you have to be careful not to confuse whole barley (also called pot barley) with pearl barley, as pearl barley is a refined version of whole pot barley (so while you are ordering a barley salad at a restaurant, and are plugged into the benefits of whole barley; you should know that the salad is in-fact not giving you the nutrients, but is just a better option to ordering a bread instead. Additional benefits are in barley’s strength to help skin with the presence of selenium in large amounts and zinc, and also acts as a skin whitener; barley water is used on the face topically to reduce acne (contains azelaic acid an anti-inflammatory agent). 

Seasonality: Associated with spring, and upward growth, the shot of barley grass detoxifies the liver. 

Digestibility: You have to make sure it’s cooked well (55-60 minutes cook-time, look for hull-less variety over pearl barley. 

Portions: when trying to lose weight, limit to ½ cup cooked per meal, when not then use up to 2/3rd cup cooked. 

Formats of cooking: Made into a pilaf-style, rotis of barley flour, added to salads, add to soups, stews, slow-cooked dishes; I make a risotto out of it and substitute Arborio rice with it.

Oats

Think of what the food for horses would do for you, this is what I think of when I think of oats. Also, when I refer to oats, I don’t mean rolled oats; but oats in their original form or steel-cut oats. You must be made aware that marketers selling you rolled oats, tout the benefits of whole oats on the pack. However, rolled oats (think of why it takes 2 minutes to cook?) is a super-refined version of whole oats. 

Seasonality: Oats according to Traditional Chinese medicine also supports your liver, and is a spring grain. But personally, makes for a lovely porridge in the winters. 

Digestibility: You have to make sure it’s cooked well (60 minutes cook-time, and soak the whole oats overnight, not the same cooking time for steel-cut oats; which cooks faster). Non-contaminated (contamination happens where other gluten grains are manufactured) are oats are gluten-free? It has to be detected free of gluten; on which oats sometimes fail the test as the US and Australia/New Zealand have different standards for labelling a product as gluten-free. But some people with sensitive digestion, may not be able to digest oats as a grain as will hold the same for celiac patients. 

Portions: when trying to lose weight, limit to ½ cup cooked per meal, when not then use up to 2/3rd cup cooked. 

Formats of cooking: Made into rotis of oats flour, added to salads (usually pearl, change this to steel-cut), add to soups, slow-cooked dishes; dosas, chillas, idlis. 

I am hoping this blog clears up the confusion around this food group of grains, so integral to us Indians. In my opinion, using different whole grains at every meal and using varied formats to make them works the best. Also, for those who are insulin sensitive and diabetic moderation is the key.

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