Globally, it’s being touted as the “new quinoa” for its gluten-free, whole-grain goodness. But in India, jowar, known as Sorghum in English is a staple, especially in the western and southern parts of the country where it is ground into flour and is used to make rotis, bhakri, cheela, dosa etc.
The ancient grain, a member of the millett family, is having a revival at the moment as people shift away from refined wheat products which are not considered as good for health.
Jowar has several health benefits
It is gluten-free: Gluten is a protein component found in wheat and barley-based foods, and is believed to cause digestive problems such as bloating, pain and stomach cramps. Jowar, a gluten-free whole grain, is considered an excellent alternative for people who suffer from ‘gluten intolerance‘ and it is rich in nutrients as well.
Rich in fiber: Compared to other cereal grains like barley or rice, jowar contains a much higher concentration of fiber. A single serving contains more than 12 grams, which is more than the recommended daily intake of 48%. A high fiber diet lowers risk of obesity, stroke, high blood pressure, cardiac disease, diabetes and digestive problems.
High protein: One cup of jowar has 22 grams of protein, which supplies the body with energy as well as aids in cell regeneration.
Full of iron: Jowar contains 8.45 milligrams of iron in every cup. Since the iron in jowar is non-heme (difficult to absorb), pairing it with meat or a source of Vitamin C will give you maximum benefit.
Controls blood sugar levels: Jowar, a complex carbohydrate, is digested slowly, prompting a more gradual rise in blood sugar. That’s why it’s a great diet choice for diabetics and people who want to lose weight.
Good for bone health: Because it contains high levels of magnesium, jowar helps maintain calcium levels in the body (magnesium increases calcium absorption).
Packed with vitamins, minerals and micronutrients: It contains B vitamins, which help the body build new tissues and cells, as well as potassium and phosphorous. Additionally, jowar contains traces of zinc, copper and over 20 micronutrients as well as high levels of antioxidants.
How you can make jowar part of your daily diet
Jowar is among the healthiest choices you can make for your daily carbohydrate intake. Given a typical balanced diet comprises 55-60% carbohydrates, you can have one or one-and-a-half servings of jowar twice a day, either at breakfast, lunch or dinner.
The easiest way to incorporate this millet in your diet is through rotis. It is best paired with other cereals and pulses. For example, you can make multigrain atta by mixing 50% whole wheat with 50% jowar and other cereals like bajra, ragi, soya, etc.
You can also use this flour to make porridge, which is very healthy for children. Roast multigrains like whole wheat, jowar, bajra, ragi, etc. with green mung, chana (Bengal gram) dal, sago (sabudana), etc. to the multigrain atta, and cook it till it reaches the consistency of porridge, using one part flour and three parts water. If you want to serve it savoury, add jeera (cumin) and salt. If your kids prefer sweet porridge, try gud (jaggery) and milk instead. Adding crushed almonds will enhance its nutritional value.
If you are fond of dosas and idlis, you can add jowar to the usual rice batter in a 2:1 ratio (two parts jowar flour, one part rice idli batter). You can even make jowar cupcakes, by substituting the refined flour in any cupcake recipe with 50% whole wheat and 50% jowar flour.
Jowar is a little denser than whole wheat, so the taste may take a little getting used to at first. However, diversifying your food grains is the best way to increase the nutritional quotient of your daily diet.
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