Pearl Millet (Pennisetum glaucum): Health benefits

Edited By Dr. Asha Jyoti Bharati

Millets are a group of grains that include

  • Pearl millet [(Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.]
  • Finger millet [E. coracana (L.) Gaertn.]
  • Foxtail millet [Setaria italica (L.) P. Beauvois.]
  • Proso millet [Panicum miliaceum (L.)]

Pearl millet is also known as Bajra in Hindi is a superfood because of gluten-free and nutrient-rich properties. Pearl millet is believed to domesticated over 5000 years ago in Africa and it spread all across the world becoming one of the major cereal crops.

What makes Pearl millet a superfood?

Pearl millet grains are gluten-free, higher in dietary fiber with low glycemic index. Similar in lipid content to maize. It has a higher content of essential amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and lysine) than other traditional cereals.
Antioxidants nature of this millet helps in lowering blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, prevention of cancer and diabetes (1).
Pearl millet also contains n−3 and n−6 fatty acid which gets converted into eicosanoids. This compound helps in reduction of triglycerides in the blood, improve immune response, brain and eye function, and infant development.

Nutritional value of Pearl millet

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), per 100 gram of Pearl millet contains the following components (2)

Compound Amounts per 100 g.
Water 8.67 g
Energy 378 kcal
Protein 11.02 g
Total lipid (Fat)s 4.22 g
Carbohydrates 72.85 g
Dietary Fiber 8.5 g
Folates 85 µg
Niacin 4.72 mg
Riboflavin 0.29 mg
Thiamin 0.42 mg
Vitamin B-6 0.38 mg
Vitamin E 0.05 mg
Vitamin K 0.9 µg
Calcium 8 mg
Iron 3.01 mg
Magnesium 114 mg
Phosphorous 285 mg
Zinc 1.68 mg
Sodium 5 mg
Potassium 195 mg

Health benefits of Pearl millet

1. Protects heart

Compounds like lignin, magnesium, and phytonutrients of pearl millet act as a strong antioxidant. Thus control blood pressure, relieve heart stress and prevent heart-related diseases (3).

2. Controls cholesterol

Pearl millet is a rich source of fiber, flavonoids, phenolics and Omega 3 fatty acids. These compounds stop lipid peroxidation thus subsequently reduces total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol, as well as a decrease in the triglyceride (4).

3. Prevents Diabetes

Pearl millet has higher slowly digestible starch (SDS). It helps in improving the blood glucose level and also provides stable energy to patients with Type 2 Diabetic. Along with this the low carbohydrate, high fiber, mineral as well as leucine also positively affect toward healthy diet for diabetics (5).

4. Treats anemia

Pearl millet contains a high amount of Iron and Zinc which may help to increase the Hb levels (6).

5. Improves digestion and weight loss

High mineral of Pearl millets helps in improving the digestive capacity. It also contains high fiber which seems to be beneficial as a food ingredient to suppress appetite, prevent obesity-associated inflammation and relieve from constipation. Therefore pearl millet flakes could be an ideal snack for the obese and calorie conscious people (7).

6. Prevents Gallstone formation

The high fiber content in pearl millet is also known to reduce the risk of gall stone occurrence. This is because of the reduction in intestinal transit time, aided by means of the intake of fiber. It additionally reduces the secretion of bile acid, which is thought to reason gallstones (8).

7. Good for Asthma persons

Pearl millet is known to rich in a high concentration of magnesium which helps reduce the severity of respiratory problems for asthma patients and is also effective in reducing migraine attacks (9).

8. Protects from Celiac disease

Celiac disease is the chronic inflammation of small intestines due to an immune response to gluten. Pearl millet is gluten-free with well-balanced protein and microelements such as calcium, iron, zinc, and lipids are a good option to protect from celiac (10).

9. Anti-aging

Pearl millet is rich in antioxidants phytates, phenols, and tannins which can contribute to antioxidant activity important in health, aging, and metabolic syndrome (11).

Healthy Recipes of Pearl millet

Pearl millet Khichdi

Benefits of eating Pearl millet khichdi is

  1. Good for diabetic persons
  2. Gluten free
  3. Weight loss


  1. Overnight soaked pearl millet (⅓ cup)
  2. Oil (refined or olive or coconut) or Ghee
  3. Cumin seeds
  4. Garlic
  5. Curry leaves
  6. Vegetables of your choices (carrot, potato, zucchini)
  7. Lentils
  8. Salt
  9. Turmeric
  10. Green chilies
  11. Coriander powder
  12. Garam masala


  1. Take a pressure cooker and pour oil (1 tablespoon) and fry cumin seeds (½ teaspoon) curry leaves (4 -5), Garlic, chilies for 2 to 3 mins.
  2. Fry vegetables for 3 to 4 mins add salt and garam masala and coriander powder and turmeric.
  3. Add lentils and pearl millet overnight soaked (⅓ cup each)
  4. Fry them for 4 to 5 mins and pressure cook it for at least 4 to 5 whistles





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