Context:- Grain-processing of millets raises new concerns in the consumption of millets.
- Millets are a group of cereal grains that belong to the Poaceae family (grass family).
- Millets are primarily grown during the kharif season in rainfed areas as these crops require less water and agricultural inputs than other cereals.
- As proposed by India, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has declared 2023 as International Year of Millets (IYM).
- Nutrients – The nutritional content of millets includes carbohydrates, proteins, fibre, amino acids, and various minerals.
- Different millet varieties have different nutrient profiles.
|Millet Variety||Rich in|
|Pearl millet||Higher protein content than rice, maize, and sorghum|
|Foxtail millet||Amino acid lysine|
|Finger millet||More crude fibre than wheat and rice|
|Proso millet||Amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and methionine|
- Processing of Millets – ‘Whole grain’ refers to the endosperm, germ, and bran (pericarp + aleurone) whereas ‘refined grain’ refers only to the endosperm.
- Each millet kernel consists of 3 major parts, called pericarp, endosperm, and germ.
- The pericarp has an outer covering called the husk.
- The husk and the pericarp together protect the kernel from inhospitable ambient conditions, disease, and physical damage.
- The husk is removed from the grains because it is composed of cellulosic matter that the human body can’t digest.
- Decortication of Grain – Removes any other outer covering and expose the seed.
- Both mechanical and hand-worked removescrude and dietary fibre.
- Milling – Grinding the grains into flour, and sieving to remove large ‘impurities’, including bran.
- Sieving makes the flour more digestible and its nutrients more accessible to the body but reduced nutrient content due to the loss of bran.
- The longer the grains were milled, the more protein, fat, and fibre contents the process removed.
- Polishing – Polishing is the process where the bran and the germ are rubbed off.
- For example, brown rice is changed to white rice by polishing.
- Effects of polishing – Processing and preparing millets for consumption can affect nutrients in three ways:
- Enhance them
- Suppress/remove them
- Ignore them
- Polishing which removes 8-10% of grain weight also removed 60-80% of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and manganese in both varieties.
- The loss of bran also compromised the grains’ fibre content.
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