12 Health Benefits of Millet…the Alkalizing Grain!

Gluten free millet provides a host of nutrients, has a sweet nutty flavour, and is considered to be one of the most digestible and non-allergenic grains available.  It is one of the few grains that is alkalizing to the body

Millet has always been a favorite grain of mine since I discovered it in my hippy days in the 70’s!

Read about millet’s 12 health benefits, some interesting trivia and history,  10 tips how to use it, and 3 delicious millet recipes.

12 Health Benefits:

1. Millet is alkaline and it digests easily

2. The Hunzas, who live in a remote area of the Himalayan foothills and are known for their excellent health and longevity, enjoy millet as a staple in their diet.

3. Millet will hydrate your colon to keep you from being constipated.

4. Millet acts as a prebiotic feeding microflora in your inner ecosystem.

5. The high levels of tryptophan in millet produces serotonin which is calming to your moods.

6. Whole grains like millet have been shown to protect against childhood asthma.

7. Magnesium in millet can help reduce the affects of migraines and heart attacks.

8. Niacin (vitamin B3) in millet can help lower cholesterol.

9. Millet Consumption Decreases Triglycerides and C-Reactive Protein: Scientists in Seoul, South Korea concluded that millet may be useful in preventing cardiovascular disease. Nutrition Research. April 2010; 30(4):290-6.

10. All Millet Varieties Show High Antioxidant Activity: a team of biochemists analyzed the antioxidant activity; all varieties showed high antioxidant activity. – Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 9 June 2010; 58(11):6706-14.

11. Millet is gluten free and non allergenic.  A great grain for sensitive individuals.

12. Millet’s high protein content, (15 %)  makes is a substantial addition to a vegetarian diet.

Trivia Interesting facts:

  • Millet was the main grain in China before rice.
  • In North America and Europe millet has been grown primarily for animal fodder, pasture grass, and birdseed.
  • The majority of the world’s commercial millet crop is produced by India, China and Nigeria.
  • Millet grows in stalks 1 to 10 feet high, and ripens in 60 to 90 days.
  • It will grow in relatively infertile areas, is drought resistant and matures in such a short time; great for growing in less agriculturally developed areas
  • Millet ranks as the sixth most important grain in the world, sustains 1/3 of the world’s population and is a significant part of the diet in northern China, Japan, Manchuria and various areas of the former Soviet Union, Africa, India, and Egypt.
  • China, India, and Niger are the world’s largest growers of millet today.

Millet Nutritional information: 1 cup cooked millet

Calories 286
Carbohydrate (g) 57
Total fat (g) 2.4
Cholesterol (mg) 0
Saturated fat (g) 0.4
Sodium (mg) 5
Monounsaturated fat (g) 0.4
Thiamin (mg) 0.3
Polyunsaturated fat (g) 1.2
Niacin (mg) 3.2
Dietary fiber (g) 3.1
Magnesium (mg) 106
Protein (g) 8
Zinc (mg)  2.2

Data from wholehealthmd.com


  • The exact origin is not known but research says millet was most likely cultivated simultaneously in Asia and Africa over 7000 years ago.
  • It has been a staple in India and Africa for thousands of years.
  • In the Old Testament millet is mentioned as a grain for making bread.
  • Chinese archeologists found a 4000 year old bowl containing long noodles made from millet.
  • The earliest written record of millet, “Fan Shen Chih Shu” 2800 BC, gives detailed instructions for growing and storing the grain.
  • There is even evidence that millet was eaten and grown in the Stone Age in Switzerland.
  • Millet first came to the U.S. in 1875, was consumed and grown by early settlers like corn, then fell into obscurity

How to Buy and Store:

  • When purchasing from bins in the bulk section, make sure the bins are covered and that there is a good product turnover ensuring it is fresh. Also, make sure that there is no moisture.
  • Store millet in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place; it will keep for several months.
  • Best to buy Organic Hulled Millet.

10 Tips for eating or cooking:

  1. Instead of rice or potatoes, serve millet.
  2. Add millet to your favorite chopped vegetables; make a stir fry.
  3. Add millet to your salad; I like warm millet.
  4. Make breakfast porridge with cooked millet; add your favorite nuts and fruits.
  5. Add ground millet to bread and muffin recipes.
  6. The Hunza’s use millet as a cereal, in soups, and for making dense, whole grain bread.
  7. In India flat bread called roti are often made from millet flour.
  8. In Eastern Europe millet is used in porridge and kasha, or is fermented into a beverage.
  9. In Africa it is used to make baby food, and as breakfast porridge.
  10. In some countries it is used as a stuffing ingredient for cabbage rolls.

Food and Safety tips:

Millet is not an acid forming food so it is easy to digest and is considered to be one of the least allergenic and most digestible grains available.

Millet contains small amounts of goiterogenic substances that limit uptake of iodine to the thyroid. The “thyroid function inhibitors” can cause goiter when consumed in large quantities; this may explain the correlation between millet consumption and goiter incidence in developing countries where millet constitutes a significant part of the diet. Also, in some of these countries there may be a lack of sufficient dietary iodine.

What would life be like without millet? Fortunately it is readily available for me as it grows right here in my home province of Alberta.  For those of you who thought that millet was just bird food; it is one of the power foods for us.

Millet Pudding

Delicious Millet Recipes:

Millet Pudding: Sugarless and Gluten Free

How to Cook Perfect Millet

Millet and Buckwheat with Sunflower Seeds

Diana Herrington

Diana has been writing about natural health and wellness for over 20 years. Having used foods to heal her own body, she now shares her wisdom with others.

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  • Probably just a typo in the directions, but do you add the millet with the buckwheat or the sunflower seeds? Thanks! Sounds good, I’m going to try it.

  • Carla, you can simply leave out the sunflower seeds and it will still taste great.
    After you have done that; you could try pumpkin seeds and let us know how that works.

  • A friend used to add millet to whole wheat bread.
    He would add the millet to the hot water which is added to the sponge after the first rising.
    I don’t remember how much millet he would add per loaf (one loaf uses 3 cups flour)
    He died a couple of years ago. If you can suggest how much millet to use, I would appreciate it.

  • Carolyn, I use 1/8 C ground millet and 1/8th cup plain. I mix it in with the dry ingredients (2.5 C whole wheat, 1/4 C cracked wheat, 1/4 C sunflower seeds, 1/4 C pumpkin seeds & 1/2 C wild rice).

  • Hi Diana ,
    It is surprising , how comes that a bird food can be cooked as a human food .I dont wish to beleive .. never . I apologize

  • To Ihsan: Corn, wheat, sesame and much else that humans eat are eaten by birds. Millet is bird seed, because, birds enjoy it. It is human food, because, humans enjoy it. It is healthy for both.

    To Melanie: I have had very disappointing results with attempts to make millet-based recipes in the past, with trying to find millet for sale that is not stale, etc. The first really good experience I had, which was a few months ago, was when I was trying to make a tabuli for the first time, realized I had no bulgur, and remembered the millet I had bought from Sprout’s, a few months before, and decided to soak that and use it in the salad, instead.

    It was really, really good. Which tells me that millet can be great tasting in the right recipe, can be a great substitute for other grains, and that Sprout’s is a pretty trustworthy place to buy grains from.

    Thank you, Ma’am, for writing this lovely piece! I really learned some stuff.

  • You are welcome Arletta; always happy to hear about leaning happening here.
    Thank you for your great replies above which you said very well! Sometimes I get so busy I do not see everything,

  • I have some millet and was wondering if it could be used as a substitution for quinoa in a recipe that I have? What would the pluses and minuses be?

  • Thanks please I used to think its acidic .we have it in northern uganda but I do not know if it’s hear in Malaysia