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Table 6 Benefits of millets in a nutshell

From: Millets: a solution to agrarian and nutritional challenges

Disease Functional factor Mechanism of action References
PEM Optimum carbohydrate and high quality protein Sustainable crop option in arid and semi-arid regions [8]
Micronutrient deficiencies High content of Iron, iodine, zinc, calcium, magnesium and other micronutrients compared to other cereals Inclusion of millets in diet
Bio-fortification of staple cereals
[70, 71]
Obesity Dietary fibre Controls release of carbohydrates
Soluble fibre leads to highly viscous intestinal contents that possess gelling properties and could delay the intestinal absorption of carbohydrates
Low glycaemic index
Diabetes Dietary fibre Slow glucose release and low glycaemic load [72]
Protein concentrates rich in antioxidants Seed coat phenolics act as inhibitors which decrease postprandial hyperglycaemia by blocking the action of complex carbohydrate hydrolyzing enzymes (amylase, alpha-glucosidase); increase in adinopectin concentration may improve insulin sensitivity [71]
Cardiovascular diseases Protein concentrate of foxtail millet Elevated levels of adinopectin which protects cardiovascular tissues by:
(1) Inhibition of pro-inflammatory and hypertrophic response
(2) Stimulation of endothelial cell responses
Administration of proso/foxtail millet Reducing plasma triglycerides, LDL through improved cholesterol metabolism
Lower C reactive protein: a marker of inflammation and a stronger predictor of cardiovascular events in clinical applications
Phenolic extracts from seven millet varieties (kodo, finger proso, foxtail, little and pearl millet Kodo millet exhibited higher inhibition to lipid peroxidation, analogous to butylated hydroxyanisole at 200 ppm [63]
Cancer Phenolic extracts from seven millet varieties (kodo, finger proso, foxtail, little and pearl millet Inhibition of lipid peroxidation in liposomes, singlet oxygen quenching and inhibition of DNA scission
Millet extracts inhibited H-29 cell proliferation in the range of 28–100% after 4 days of administration
35 kDa protein FMBP extracted from foxtail millet bran extract FMBP, homologous to peroxidase suppress colon cancer cell growth through:
(1) Induction of G1 phase arrest
(2) Loss of mitochondrial trans-membrane potential resulting in caspase-dependent apoptosis in colon cancer cells
Inflammation and wound healing Antioxidants:
50 g of finger millet per 100 g feed in diabetic and non-diabetic rats
Enhances dermal wound healing process in diabetes with oxidative stress-mediated modulation of inflammation [74]
Administration of proso/foxtail millet Lower C reactive protein [68]
Ageing Antioxidant:
Methanolic extract of finger millet
Inhibit glycation and cross-linking of collagen
Scavange free radicals in protection against ageing
Anti-microbial activity Protein extracts, polyphenols Anti-fungal and antibacterial activity:
active against Bacillus cereus, Aspergillus niger
Seed coat phenolic extract Loss of fungal functionality by:
(1) Oxidation of microbial membranes and cell components by the free radicals
(2) Inactivation of enzymes due to irreversible complex formation with nucleophilic amino acids
(3) Complex formation of phenolic compounds with biopolymers such as proteins, polysaccharides and metal ions making them unavailable to micro-organisms
Ocular diseases and disorders Polyphenols, flavanoids:
Wistar rats maintained on 5% finger millet seed coat matter (SCM) for 6 weeks
(1) Direct scavenging of reactive oxygen species (ROS), anti-apoptotic activity, and phase 2 induction
(2) Inhibiting nitric oxide (NO) production
(3) Inhibiting certain enzymes responsible for the production of superoxide anions (xanthine oxidase and protein kinase C)
(4) Prevents the accumulation of sorbitol by inhibiting aldose reductase by non-competitive inhibition and reduce the risk of diabetes-induced cataract diseases
[77, 78]
Coeliac Disease Protein of all millets Absence of gluten in millet protein prevents coeliac disease and related complications [79]