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Is Jowar Good for Diabetes? Let’s Find Out

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One of the critical aspects of diabetes management is creating a diet plan with foods that do not increase your blood sugar levels.

And one of the popular diet strategies is swapping refined flour with multigrain flour or millets. Jowar, also known as sorghum, is a tropical millet. Due to its higher fibre content, most people consider jowar a better alternative to rice and wheat in a diabetic diet. 

Jowar is a coarse, grain cereal with substantial quantities of healthy fats, dietary fibre, proteins, antioxidants, and other vitamins and minerals.

Despite the high starch level in this cereal, jowar in recommended portions serves as a functional food for managing Diabetes Mellitus. From being gluten-free to aiding weight loss, jowar has several other health benefits. 

Nutritional Profile of Jowar Grains and Jowar Flours

Jowar, in its purest form, looks like couscous and has a slightly chewy texture. Whole-grain jowar has more protein and fibre than pearled jowar. It is because the outside layer of the whole-grain jowar kernels gets removed to produce pearled sorghum. 

According to USDA, 100 grams of jowar contains the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 329 calories
  • Protein: 10.6 g
  • Fibre: 6.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 72.1 g
  • Fats: 3.46 g
  • Calcium: 13 mg
  • Iron: 3.36 mg
  • Magnesium: 165 mg
  • Potassium: 363 mg
  • Selenium: 12.2 mcg

Jowar comprises 72-75% of complex carbohydrates. They are long carb molecules with plenty of fibre and take longer to digest than simple carbs. Therefore, despite having 72.1 g of carbohydrates per 100 g serving, jowar does not rapidly raise your blood sugar levels. 

Jowar flour, milled sorghum, comes in two varieties: whole grain and white flour. Both flour varieties have different nutritional compositions. However, choosing whole grain jowar flour is a healthier and better choice than going for refined, unenriched jowar flour. 

According to USDA, 100 grams of whole grain jowar flour contains the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 359 calories
  • Protein: 8.43 g
  • Fibre: 6.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 76.6 g
  • Fats: 3.34 g
  • Calcium: 12 mg
  • Magnesium: 123 mg
  • Selenium: 12.2 mcg

According to USDA, 100 grams of refined, unenriched jowar flour contains the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 357 calories
  • Protein: 9.53 g
  • Fibre: 1.9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 76.8 g
  • Fats: 1.24 g
  • Calcium: 6 mg
  • Magnesium: 31 mg

The HealthifyMe Note

People with diabetes should choose whole grain, unrefined jowar flour over the refined variety. Although the carbohydrate content is similar, the poor fibre in refined jowar flour is a major drawback. Unlike whole grain flour, refined flour has simple carbs that spike blood sugar. Furthermore, the level of calcium and magnesium in refined jowar flour is also reduced. 

Relationship Between Jowar and Diabetes

Jowar is an excellent source of fibre, which helps slow down digestion and carbohydrate absorption. These twin factors help to keep blood sugar levels stable.

The fibre also helps to keep you full longer, which can help with weight control, an essential element in managing diabetes. 

A study suggests that jowar assists in managing glucose and insulin levels in healthy individuals. Additionally, pre-diabetic or diabetic individuals would benefit from using grain jowar as a functional ingredient in their diet. 

Jowar is also high in vitamins and minerals, including iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. Iron is essential for preventing anaemia, magnesium helps to regulate blood sugar levels, and phosphorus helps to strengthen bones and teeth. These vitamins and minerals are vital for overall health and well-being, especially for people with diabetes.

Overall, jowar is an excellent choice for people with diabetes looking to add a portion of nutritious and diabetes-friendly food to their diet. Not only is jowar a healthy and nutritious choice, but it is also very versatile, and one can use it in many different ways. From breakfast cereals to side dishes, jowar can be a great addition to any diabetic diet.

Glycemic Index or GI of Jowar

Jowar is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, which gives it a low to moderate glycemic index of 62. It means that jowar gets slowly digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, leading to a steady release of energy and a gradual rise in blood sugar levels. 

While various uses and forms of jowar lead to varying glycemic index levels, almost all jowar flour and other products fall under a low to medium GI range.

Is Jowar Roti Good for Diabetics?

Jowar roti is an excellent option for people with diabetes. It is a whole-grain roti with a moderate glycemic index and is high in fibre, vitamins, and minerals.

The glycemic index of jowar changes if made into coarse flour and is subject to cooking methods like boiling, making rotis and porridges. White jowar roti falls in the GI range of 49.85, while yellow jowar roti is around 52.56. 

The high fibre content helps slow glucose absorption in the bloodstream, which helps manage blood sugar levels. Furthermore, jowar roti is gluten-free, making it an excellent option for people with gluten intolerances.

Jowar roti is also rich in antioxidants, which can help reduce diabetes-related inflammation. Ultimately, jowar roti is a healthier option than refined grains and can be a great addition to a diabetes-friendly diet.

Jowar Roti vs Wheat Roti

Jowar or wheat roti which is better for people with diabetes? It depends on your personalised glycemic response. You can consume jowar roti and use the HealthifyPRO continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device to check how your blood sugar responds to it. 

Whether a food compared to another is better for people with diabetes is highly subjective. Both jowar and wheat roti are good sources of fibre. However, being gluten-free and a rich source of antioxidants, jowar has the upper hand in some cases.

It contains antioxidants like tannin and anthocyanin. Studies show that the antioxidants tannins and anthocyanin present in jowar neutralise the effects of free radicals that cause diabetes. 

While jowar has a moderate GI score and a good nutritional profile, there is still no way to guarantee that it will suit you. When looking for a diet plan for diabetes, the best way is to create a customised one as per your personal needs.

HealthifyMe nutritionists create a meal plan based on your food preferences and blood sugar response. 

Ways to Incorporate Jowar into Your Diet

It is a versatile grain that can be used in many different ways, making it a great addition to your diet. Here are some ways to include jowar in your diet: 

Jowar Flour

It is a versatile ingredient used to make various dishes, including chapatis, parathas, pancakes, and other flatbreads. In addition, you can use jowar flour in baking to make cakes, muffins, and other desserts. 

Jowar and Vegetable Pilaf 

It is a delicious and nutritious dish made with jowar and various vegetables. It is a great way to get in some extra fibre and nutrition. 

Jowar Roti 

Jowar roti is a popular Indian flatbread made with jowar flour. It is an excellent way to get your daily dose of fibre and other nutrients. 

Jowar Porridge 

Jowar porridge is a hearty and nutritious breakfast option. It is made by boiling jowar in water and adding healthy flavourings such as spices, nuts, and dry fruits.

Jowar Khichdi 

It is a traditional Indian dish with jowar, lentils, and vegetables. It is a great way to get a reasonable amount of protein and fibre. 

Jowar Upma 

Jowar upma is a popular South Indian dish made with jowar and vegetables. It is excellent for breakfast or as a mid-afternoon meal.

Jowar Idli  

Jowar idli is a steamed cake made with jowar, urad dal, and spices. 

Jowar Pulao 

This flavorful and nutritious dish is made with jowar, vegetables, and spices. 

Conclusion

Jowar is a moderate glycemic index food. The fibre content, along with protein and other nutrients in jowar, makes it a food ideal for a diabetes diet plan.

Jowar also assists in weight loss. For a person with diabetes, it is best to have roti made of jowar flour compared to refined flour chapati. However, speak to your nutritionist before adding anything new to your weekly menu. 

The quantity of jowar that is best for people with diabetes depends on multiple factors, including your daily caloric intake. If you notice any discomfort when you eat jowar, immediately stop consuming it and seek a professional opinion. 

The Research Sources

1.  Data by the US Department of Agriculture. Data Type: SR Legacy | Food Category: Cereal Grains and Pasta  | FDC ID:  169716

https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169716/nutrients

2. Data by the US Department of Agriculture. Data Type: SR Legacy | Food Category: Cereal Grains and Pasta  | FDC ID: 168943

https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168943/nutrients

3. Data by the US Department of Agriculture. Data Type: SR Legacy | Food Category: Cereal Grains and Pasta  | FDC ID: 173262

https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173262/nutrients

4.  Nicole M. Poquette, Xuan Gu and Sun-Ok Lee: Grain sorghum muffin reduces glucose and insulin responses in men, University of Arkansas, Department of Food Science, 2014, 5, 894-899

https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2014/fo/c3fo60432b

5. Zehiroglu, C., & Ozturk Sarikaya, S. B. (2019). The importance of antioxidants and their place in today’s scientific and technological studies. Journal of food science and technology, 56(11), 4757–4774. 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6828919/

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