The findings published in Frontiers in Nutrition provide vital scientific support with an attempt to popularise and reintroduce millets into diets, particularly as staples, in order to address rising rates of obesity and overweight in children, adolescents, and adults.
Millets can help lower total cholesterol, triacylglycerols (often referred to as triglycerides), and body mass index, according to a new study that reviewed data from 19 studies involving over 900 participants. The study was conducted by five organisations, with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) serving as the lead organisation.
The study found that consuming millets reduced total cholesterol by 8 percent, bringing it down from elevated to normal levels in the subjects. There was a roughly 10 percent decrease in blood levels of low- and very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (often referred to as ‘bad cholesterol’) and triacylglycerol. The levels returned to the normal range as a result of these reductions. Additionally, millets consumption decreased blood pressure, with a 5 percent reduction in diastolic blood pressure.
Additionally, the study showed that consuming millets reduced BMI by 7 percent in overweight and obese individuals (from 28.5 ± 2.4 to 26.7 ± 1.8 kg/m2), indicating the possibility of returning to a normal BMI (25 kg/m2). All results are based on daily consumption of 50–200 g of millets for a period of 21 days to 3 months.
These findings are driven by comparisons showing that millets contain significantly more unsaturated fatty acids than refined wheat and milled rice, as well as being significantly more than whole grain wheat.
The study suggested a number of priority areas for future research, including the need to investigate all sorts of millets, any changes across varieties, as well as the various methods of cooking and processing millets, and their effect on cardiovascular health.