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Is Ragi Good for Weight Loss? Discover the Surprising Benefits of This Superfood

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Once valued highly, and chosen to honour poets and writers along with honey and milk, ragi gradually faded away as a staple grain. While various factors contributed to the decline of this wonder food, western influence on the diet, government policies, and branding crisis was the foremost. However, Ragi, the underdog of Indian grains, is again becoming popular among health enthusiasts and nutritionists. With its high fibre and impressive nutrient profile, Ragi might be the missing link in your weight loss journey.

Weight loss journeys are unique, and there is something special about shedding those extra pounds. With a surge in health consciousness among people, there has been a shift towards healthier dietary habits. Local produce and emerging fitness fads are influencing people’s food choices.

We address one such question today: Is Ragi good for weight loss? This article explains how to incorporate Ragi into your diet and reap its benefits. It also debunks some common myths and misconceptions about this wonder grain. So, grab a bowl of Ragi porridge, and let’s dig in!

Ragi: An Overview

Ragi, or finger millet, is a whole grain crop famous for its nutritional composition and utility in weight management. In addition, the grain has a long shelf-life of over ten years if stored properly. Therefore, ragi, a crop cultivated all year round, is a staple diet in some parts of India. 

This cereal does not require much processing, and one can consume it in its purest form. Its minimal processing ensures that its nutritional value gets retained. With its high nutritional value and easy cultivation process, ragi is becoming increasingly popular worldwide.

Nutritional Value of Ragi

Ragi is a superfood that offers a range of health benefits. It is a rich source of carbohydrates, dietary fibre, calcium, copper, and manganese. It also contains moderate amounts of phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, & B-complex vitamins. 

Ragi contains antioxidants such as polyphenols and amino acids like tryptophan, which help fulfil all the macro and micronutrients in the body. 

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According to research data, here’s a breakdown of some critical nutrients in 100g of dry ragi:

  • Calories: 320.7 kcal
  • Protein: 7.3g
  • Carbohydrates: 77.0g
  • Fat: 1.92g
  • Fibre: 11.5g
  • Calcium: 364 mg
  • Magnesium: 146 mg
  • Phosphorus: 210 mg
  • Potassium: 443 mg
  • Manganese: 3.1 mg
  • Zinc: 2.5 mg
  • Selenium: 15.3µg
  • Folate: 34.6µg

Ragi and Weight Loss: The Connection

According to a review paper, millets are nutritious grain varieties rich in microminerals, flavonoids, and phenolic acids. Therefore, one can promote weight loss by replacing refined grains like enriched wheat flour and white rice with millets like ragi, bajra, and jowar.

Ragi is a grain that has been gaining popularity for its association with weight loss. This ancient grain is a powerhouse of nutrition and an excellent dietary fibre source. In addition, it helps in weight loss by promoting fullness and reducing appetite. 

Here are some reasons why consuming ragi can help you lose weight.

Fibre in Ragi Aids Weight Loss

One of the main reasons why ragi is beneficial for weight loss is due to its high fibre content. Research shows ragi are a rich source of dietary fibre. Fibre takes longer to digest than carbohydrates, keeping you feeling full for longer. As a result, it can prevent overeating and lower your calorie intake. It is also a good source of amino acids and is low in fat compared to other grains.

Polyphenol

Ragi also has a high polyphenol. These are compounds found in plants that have number of health benefits. Research shows the anti-obesity potential of natural polyphenols. For example, regular consumption of ragi helps lower the risk of diabetes mellitus and gastrointestinal disorders, which are some of the significant contributors to weight gain. In addition, diets based on whole-finger millet have a lower glycemic response. It means they do not hold the ability to increase blood sugar levels.

Presence of Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an amino acid essential for producing melatonin (responsible for maintaining the sleep-wake cycle) and serotonin, a “feel-good” hormone. Research shows that serotonin boosts mood and acts as an appetite suppressant, while melatonin boosts metabolism. Since ragi is rich in tryptophan, it helps curb hunger and reduce calorie intake. 

The presence of tryptophan also helps in relaxing the nerves. As we know, good sleep is essential for healthy weight management. Ragi helps improve cognitive health, soothe nerves, and treat anxiety, insomnia, headaches, and depression. It ultimately results in better sleep.

Gluten-free

Ragi is gluten-free. So,  it can be an excellent alternative for people with gluten allergies. Also, some researchers follow the school of thought that associates gluten with weight gain, particularly around the abdominal area. Though this remains a contradicting theory for others, consuming gluten-free foods may help lose weight.

Manages Cholesterol

Research shows that ragi helps prevent and cure high blood pressure and cholesterol. Therefore, including ragi in your daily diet can reduce not only the chance of coronary disease but also the risk of stroke. In its whole-grain preparations, ragi inhibits plaque formation and blockage of vessels. Moreover, Lecithin and Methionine found in ragi help lower cholesterol levels by removing extra liver fat. 

In addition, ragi help to shed excess fat, provide energy, and improve digestion. As a result, the risk for hypertension, cardiac diseases, and stroke decreases significantly.

Summary

Ragi is a superfood that offers numerous health benefits. Its rich fibre content, presence of tryptophan, ability to fight deficiency, sleep-inducing properties, and ability to manage cholesterol make it a great addition to any weight loss diet. Regularly consuming ragi can help you achieve weight loss goals while improving your overall health.

Ways to Eat Ragi for Weight Loss

There are various ways to consume ragi, which makes it effortless to include in your diet. One of the easiest and most delicious ways to eat ragi is by preparing a simple ragi porridge with ragi atta. Even children can relish this dish. 

For those looking to incorporate ragi into their weight loss regimen, here are some tips and recipe ideas for incorporating ragi into your diet.

Ragi Dosa

Ragi dosa is a nutritious breakfast dish you can easily prepare. To make ragi dosa, combine ragi flour, rice flour, urad dal, and water. Leave the batter to ferment overnight. Add salt and water to make a thin consistency batter the following day. Then spread the batter on a heated pan and cook until crispy on both sides. You can serve ragi dosa with chutney or sambar to enhance its taste. 

Ragi Upma

Ragi upma is a delicious and filling breakfast option that is easy to make. To make ragi upma, roast ragi flour in oil and add vegetables like onions, carrots, and peas. Add water and cook until the mixture thickens, and serve hot with some coconut chutney. Alternatively, one can use overnight-soaked ragi for making upma or pulao. Pressure cook soaked ragi before adding it to vegetables or good protein.

Ragi Chapati

Ragi chapatis are a healthy alternative to regular chapatis. Mix ragi flour with warm water and knead the dough. Roll out the chapatis and cook them on a hot tawa. Serve hot with some vegetable curry or raita.

Ragi Cookies

If you have a sweet tooth, you can satisfy your cravings with ragi cookies. Mix ragi flour, oats, butter, jaggery, dates or stevia and baking powder to form a dough. Roll it out and cut it into desired shapes. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 15-20 minutes.

Ragi Ladoo

Ragi laddoo is a healthy and delicious snack that is easy to make. To make ragi laddoo, roast ragi flour in ghee and add dates/figs or stevia to sweeten it. Add some nuts and raisins and form small balls out of the mixture. Serve as a healthy snack whenever you feel hungry.

Here are three easy recipes using ragi for weight loss:

Ragi Porridge

Ingredients

  • Ragi Flour: ½ cup
  • Water: 2 cups
  • Low or No Fat Milk: ½ cup
  • Cardamom Powder: ¼ tsp
  • Cinnamon Powder: ¼ tsp

Method

  1. Mix the ragi flour and water in a saucepan to avoid lumps.
  2. Heat the mixture on medium flame and stir continuously until it thickens.
  3. Add the milk, cardamom powder, and cinnamon powder and stir well.
  4. Cook for another 2-3 minutes until it reaches a porridge-like consistency.
  5. Serve hot.

Ragi Idli

Ingredients

  • Ragi Flour: 1 cup (one can use whole ragi grains. Soak overnight and grind)
  • Idli Rice: 1 cup
  • Urad Dal: ½ cup
  • Fenugreek Seeds: 1 tsp
  • Salt to taste

Method

  1. Wash the idli rice and urad dal separately and soak them in water for at least 4 hours.
  2. Grind them individually into a fine batter using a wet grinder.
  3. Mix the ragi flour with the idli batter and add salt to taste.
  4. Allow the batter to ferment overnight or for at least 8 hours.
  5. Grease the idli plates and pour the batter into them.
  6. Steam the idlis for 10-12 minutes or until cooked through.
  7. Serve hot with sambar and chutney.

HealthifyMe Suggestion

Why not try making Ragi pizza crust? Using Ragi flour as a base for pizza crust instead of traditional wheat flour can be a healthy and delicious alternative. Simply top the ragi pizza crust with your favourite veggies, low-fat cheese, and homemade sugar-free tomato sauce. This way, you can enjoy your favourite comfort food guilt-free while staying true to your weight loss goals. Surprised, right? 

The Final Word

Ragi is a nutritious and healthy food that can assist in weight loss when consumed moderately. Its high fibre and protein content can keep you full for longer. It also reduces the urge to snack on unhealthy foods. In addition, Ragi’s decent fibre content helps regulate blood sugar levels. Thus, it prevents sudden spikes and crashes that lead to overeating. Incorporating Ragi into your diet can contribute to a healthier lifestyle, but weight loss requires a combination of healthy eating and exercise.

Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is just to disperse knowledge and raise awareness. It does not intend to replace medical advice from professionals. For further information, please contact our certified nutritionists Here.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q.What is ragi, and how does it help with weight loss? 

A. Ragi, commonly known as finger millet, is a nutritious cereal crop extensively cultivated in India, Africa, and Asia. It is abundant in vital nutrients like protein, dietary fibre, vitamins, and minerals, making it a valuable food source to lose weight.

Q. Is ragi high in calories, carbohydrates, or fat? 

A. Ragi is a low-fat grain with just 100 grams of flour providing around 320.7 calories and 1.92 grams of fat. However, it is relatively high in carbohydrates, approximately 77 grams per 100 grams of flour. 

Q. Can ragi be included in a weight loss diet plan? 

A. Ragi, despite being high in carbohydrates, can still be incorporated into a weight loss diet due to its nutritional composition. Furthermore, its fibre content prevents rapid blood sugar spikes that trigger cravings. Also, its fibre content helps keep you feeling full for longer, aiding in reducing calorie intake. One can consume ragi in different forms, like porridge, roti, dosa, and idli.

Q. What are the nutritional benefits of consuming ragi for weight loss? 

A. Ragi offers multiple nutritional benefits for weight loss. Its high fibre content promotes satiety, reducing calorie intake, while its protein helps build muscle mass that burns more calories. Additionally, ragi’s calcium content supports bone health, which is crucial for overall well-being during weight loss.

Q. How much ragi should be consumed daily for weight loss?

A. The ideal daily intake of ragi for weight loss may differ based on factors like age, gender, activity level, and health status. It is good to consume ragi moderately as part of a balanced diet for effective weight loss. Consulting with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian can assist in determining the appropriate amount for your requirements.

Q. Can ragi be consumed in different forms like flour, flakes, or malt for weight loss? 

A. Ragi can aid in weight loss, such as flour, flakes, or malt. Incorporating ragi into healthy recipes can be beneficial, such as ragi porridge, ragi dosa or idli, ragi roti or Bhakri, ragi upma, ragi balls, and ragi pudding. These recipes can be more healthful by combining ragi with nutritious ingredients like vegetables, herbs, and spices for added flavour and nutritional value.

Q: What are some healthy ragi recipes for weight loss? 

A: Ragi is versatile, high in fibre and can aid weight loss. Healthy ragi recipes include porridge, dosa, roti, upma, balls, and pudding, combined with vegetables, spices, and herbs for better taste and nutrition.

Q: Are there any side effects of consuming ragi during weight loss? 

A: Ragi is generally safe for weight loss with few side effects. Still, some may experience mild digestive discomfort or allergies. Therefore, moderation and awareness of adverse reactions are advised, especially for those with pre-existing health conditions. Consulting a healthcare professional or dietitian is recommended.

Q: Can ragi be consumed by people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease? 

A: Ragi is a gluten-free grain suitable for those with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. To prevent cross-contamination, ragi and its products should be processed and stored in a gluten-free environment.

Q: What are some other health benefits of consuming ragi apart from weight loss?

A: Ragi offers various health benefits beyond weight loss, such as promoting healthy digestion, regulating blood sugar levels, and supporting bone health due to its high fibre and calcium content. It also contains antioxidants and amino acids that help combat free radicals and promote collagen production, producing youthful and radiant skin. Moreover, it is a great energy source, improving stamina and endurance.

Research Sources

1. Indian Food Composition Tables by National Institute of Nutrition

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1eqQ578gHiPoIaHaVYjQa_3sFe_LzGhm1/view?pli=1

2. Asritha V. A Review on Role of Millets in Weight Loss. Indian J Nutri. 2021;8(3): 239.

https://www.opensciencepublications.com/fulltextarticles/IJN-2395-2326-8-236.html

3. Devi PB, Vijayabharathi R, Sathyabama S, Malleshi NG, Priyadarisini VB. Health benefits of finger millet (Eleusine coracana L.) polyphenols and dietary fibre: a review. J Food Sci Technol. 2014 Jun;51(6):1021-40. doi 10.1007/s13197-011-0584-9. Epub 2011 Nov 22. PMID: 24876635; PMCID: PMC4033754.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4033754/

4. Manisha Singh, Thilini Thrimawithana, Ravi Shukla, Benu Adhikari | Managing obesity through natural polyphenols: A review, Future Foods, Volumes 1–2, 2020, 100002, ISSN 2666-8335, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fufo.2020.100002.

4. Harvard Health Publishing

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/feel-good-hormones-how-they-affect-your-mind-mood-and-body

6. Anitha S, Botha R, Kane-Potaka J, Givens DI, Rajendran A, Tsusaka TW, Bhandari RK. Can Millet Consumption Help Manage Hyperlipidemia and Obesity?: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Front Nutr. 2021 Aug 17;8:700778. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2021.700778. PMID: 34485362; PMCID: PMC8416111.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8416111/

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