The recent trend of washboard abs and lean structure has led to people turning towards fat free diets, vegetables, cereal based meal plans and multi-grain recipes. But most of the packed, ready to eat cereals that are available in the market are loaded with glutens, sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup. In order to stay healthy and have an envious figure, it is important to choose even your health foods wisely. It’s best to opt for 100% natural and unrefined cereals like Ragi, Granola, Finger Millet, Flax, Multi-grain cereals and unflavoured oatmeal for weight loss.
Ragi (Eleusine coracana) is a widely growing annual plant found most abundantly in Africa and Asia. It is a hardy crop that can grow in high altitudes and withstand harsh weather conditions. Karnataka is the largest producer of this crop in India with 58% share in the country’s annual production. Benefits of ragi are numerous and it is a highly nutritious cereal loaded with calcium, proteins, iron and other minerals. It is rich in fiber and contains very less unsaturated fat that makes it a perfect food for weight loss.
Ragi is a powerhouse of health benefiting nutrients that help in reducing weight and also acts as a treatment for multiple diseases like Brittle Bones, Osteoporosis, Anaemia and Diabetes. It is a natural relaxant that helps in relieving stress and anxiety. It is one such rare cereal that doesn’t need to be polished and, therefore, can be consumed in its purest form with all its goodness intact.
Ragi benefits weight loss in a unique way and holds a significant place in diet programs for weight loss. A special amino acid, Tryptophan present in Ragi helps in curbing appetite. It has a higher rate of fiber compared to any other grain or rice. The high amount of dietary fiber combines with water and keeps the stomach fuller for a longer period of time. It is low in unsaturated fats that make it the ideal cereal for those looking to lose weight. The heaviness of the dietary fiber slows down the rate of digestion thereby keeping us fuller for longer with very less calories.
Ragi health benefits are not limited to weight loss only. When it comes to calcium, there is no other plant source that comes even close to Ragi. It is loaded with calcium and vitamin D that makes it a vital component for increasing bone strength. Go natural, replace over the counter calcium supplements with Ragi porridge that works as a super calcium supplier for growing children and aging people. It helps development of bones in children, maintains bone health and prevents bone erosion in adults. It also works as an effective food to avert Osteoporosis.
Regular consumption of Ragi has been found to reduce the risk of Diabetes Mellitus because of its high content of dietary fibers and polyphenols. It has a higher amount of fiber compared to rice, wheat or any other grains. The high level of fibers in Ragi slows down the pace of digestion thereby helping in lowering blood sugar levels. It also has a low glycemic index that makes it an ideal snack to prevent late night food cravings and help to maintain blood sugar within safe range.
Ragi has been proved to work wonders in bringing down blood cholesterol levels and is one of the best home remedies for heart health. It controls the cholesterol level by reducing plaque formation and preventing blockage of blood vessels thereby cutting down the risk of stroke and other heart diseases. The key amino acids Lecithin and Methionine present in the cereal helps in lowering cholesterol by extracting and cutting out excess fat from the liver, and the amino acid Threonine prevents formation of fat in the liver. Ragi, in the unripe, green form can also help in controlling high blood pressure and hypertension.
The abundance of antioxidants, mainly Tryptophan and amino acids in Ragi help in fighting damage causing free radicals and reducing oxidative stress. It works as a natural relaxant and helps in relieving stress related ailments like anxiety, hypertension, depression and headaches. It also helps in relieving sleep disorders like Insomnia along with cerebral pains and Migraine.
Ragi is one of the best natural protein sources. It is also rich in health benefiting amino acids and mineral like Calcium, Iron, Niacin, Thiamin and Riboflavin. The important amino acids present in Ragi are Valine, Threonine, Isoleucine, Methionine and Tryptophan that help in muscle functioning, maintaining metabolism, blood formation, fighting anxiety and depression and also promotes the release of growth hormones.
Ragi sprouts is one of the healthiest sprouts to eat to load up on Iron that helps in increasing blood formation in persons suffering from anaemia or low haemoglobin levels. Vitamin C increases the level of iron absorption in the body and therefore it is best to have sprouted Ragi in the form of Ragi flour or Ragi malt. .Sprouted Ragi contains vitamin C that makes the iron present in it easily absorbable by the body. Include it in your daily diet and cut out artificial iron tablets or tonics.
The high level of dietary fiber in this cereal aids in proper digestion, normal bowel movement and prevents constipation. The insoluble fibers present in Ragi assists movement of food through the intestines while the insoluble fibers retain water thereby easing the passage of waste. Include it to your daily diet in order to protect your digestive system and avert risks of constipation and other digestive disorders.
Ragi is a great source of nutrition for new mothers that also help in improving the hemoglobin levels. Lactating mothers are suggested to include green Ragi in their daily diet in order to improve milk production. It also enriches the milk with all the essential minerals for the body like iron, calcium and vital amino acids that is extremely important for the child as well as the mother.
Ragi not only helps in maintaining proper health and keeping diseases at bay, but also works wonders for maintaining youthfulness and vitality of skin by blocking premature aging. Ragi can be used to be the most effective natural anti aging drink. The vital amino acids Methionine and Lysine present in the cereal helps in creation and maintenance of collagen. It is a substance that supports the skin tissues to make it supple and lively thereby making it less prone to wrinkles and sagging.
Ragi is a perfect cereal for those seeking to lose weight and must be included in weight loss recipe. The high amount of fiber and low level of unsaturated fat makes it an ideal food for health conscious people. And the best thing about Ragi is its diverse nature that makes it a cereal that can be prepared in a number of ways according to the individual’s choice. Here are four simple Ragi recipes that you can incorporate in your weight loss diet.
Ragi malt is a natural energy drink that helps keep the body energized and satiated throughout the day and is one of the easiest ragi recipes for weight loss. Why go for artificial health drinks when you have the power of nature in your hands. And what’s best about this drink is that you can prepare it in a jiffy.
Ragi Flour-1/2 Cup
Ground Jaggery/Sugar-1 Tablespoon
Cardamom Powder-1 Tea Spoon
Take the Ragi flour in a bowl and slowly add water to it, stirring continuously so that no lumps form and make it into a smooth paste. Now keep it aside and start heating the milk in a pan and bring to boil. Now add the Ragi flour paste to the milk while stirring it followed by the cardamom powder and jaggery/sugar and let it simmer for 5 minutes on low flame with continued stirring. Let the drink cool, garnish with chopped dry fruits and your energy drink is ready to enjoy.
Ragi Soup is a simple and healthy way of enjoying the wholesome goodness of fresh vegetables along with the benefits of this cereal. It is a balanced health food that is perfectly oil free and does not add to your calories while you enjoy its yummy taste. The minimal use of oil makes it one of the best recipes for weight loss.
Take the water in a deep pan, bring to boil and add onion and garlic to it followed by carrots, cauliflower, green peas, tomatoes, salt, sugar and chilli powder. Let it boil for 10 minutes. Heat the coconut oil in a pan and add the tempering ingredients to it, let it splutter and add it to the soup. Follow it up with the milk and Ragi flour dissolved in plain water. Let it simmer for 10 minutes, garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot.
Upma is one of the most popular breakfast ideas for losing weight that is great to taste. While upma is most commonly made from flattened rice, it can also be made from Ragi to give it a healthier dimension.
Heat a teaspoon of oil in a pan and add the Ragi flour, sort till you get a roasted aroma, now keep it aside. Heat the rest of the oil in a pan, add cumin and mustard seeds, let them splutter, now add the dals and fry till they turn golden brown. Now add the curry leaves, onions and tomatoes and fry, add some salt followed by water and bring to boil. Now add the Ragi Flour to the pan while stirring it frequently. Mix it well, cover the pan and let is cook for 5 minutes on low flame. Now sprinkle lemon juice, chopped coriander and serve hot.
Ragi Idli is one of the most famous and traditional dish loaded with fiber, potassium and calcium. This healthy and tasty Indian breakfast has low carbohydrates and high level of essential nutrients. It helps in reducing cholesterol and blood sugar levels and is one of the yummiest recipes for weight loss. For additional taste and health punch add some grated vegetables like carrot, beans and capsicum to the idli batter.
Soak urad dal and idli rava in water separately for one hour. Drain the excess water and make it into smooth paste by adding little water. Squeeze out the excess water from idli rava and add the ragi batter and mix it well. Leave the mixture overnight in a warm place for fermentation for smooth and fluffy idli. While making the idlis, add a pinch of salt and soda to the mixture. Grease the idli plate with little cooking oil and pour the mixture in each plate. Steam it for 15 to 20 minutes and serve with tomato chutney.
Excessive dependence on processed and ready to eat foods has increased the risk of chronic diseases in modern urban life. Ragi is more of a rural food that hardly gets prominence in urban diet. But it is high time we renovate our eating habits, go back to the basics and include natural cereals like Ragi in our daily diet in order to have healthy and disease free lives in the long run. Hope you can achieve your weight loss targets with these healthy ragi recipes. Please share your innovative ragi recipes with us in the comments section below.
Devi Gajendran is a Post Graduate in Nutrition (University of Madras, Tamil Nadu) and has tons of experience in Fitness and Nutrition. She is the chief advisor and full time contributor at the Fit Indian and has the final say on all the segments under the Fit Indian paradigm, such as beauty, fitness, home remedies, diseases, diet tips, weight loss, weight gain and so on. A foodie herself, she believes in the Hippocrates quote,” Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” A fitness enthusiast, she believes that the combination of diet and exercise can work wonders. When she is not sharing her valuable knowledge about food and fitness, she likes to spend quality time with her family members, do some healthy baking and listen to soft soulful music.
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