Various types of millet have been cultivated in Asia for at least 10,000 years and are an important food staple in many developing countries. A small-grain producing plant of the grass family, millets can thrive in very hot, arid environments and poor soil conditions. Millet can be used for brewing and is a major food source in many countries, ranging in use from flatbread flour for baking to sweet or savoury porridge, or as a grain base with stews. It is particularly useful in forming part of a gluten-free diet.
Millet is high in fibre and carbohydrates, and is a good source of protein and some of the B complex vitamins, as well as vitamins C and K. In minerals it is a rich source of magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, and also contains copper and selenium. In addition, it supplies polyunsaturated and omega-3 and 6 fats, thus making it an all-round nutritional winner.
All types of millet possess powerful phenolic and antioxidant properties, making it a valuable contributor to the immune system, and some studies have shown that it has beneficial effects on lowering blood sugar and cholesterol, contributing to better heart health and having potential benefits to diabetics.