Care of Amy Symington of www.ameliaeats.com

This round, teeny tiny ancient and gluten free grain that is commonly found in bird seed packs a nutritional punch that is not just for the birds.

Millet is high in insoluble fibre and is a good source of magnesium. High fibre whole grains, like millet, protect us from a wide array of chronic diseases such as obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and cancer, in addition to lowering our LDL cholesterol and reducing our risk of high blood pressure. Whole grains also contain lignans, a phytonutrient that has been directly linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, and phytoestrogens, which aid in blood vessel elasticity and bone metabolism.

Millet’s higher levels of magnesium are beneficial as well.  Magnesium is a co-factor for the enzymes that are involved in the body’s release of insulin as well as its use of glucose, making millet a diabetic friendly food. Magnesium is also an electrolyte which aids in maintaining proper fluid balance and cell communication in the body. It helps with muscle relaxation and works synergistically with calcium, vitamin D and phosphorous (which is also found in high levels in millet) to build strong and healthy bones and teeth.

As for millet’s culinary options, it can replace almost anything that rice or quinoa are used in. It has a slightly creamier consistency than its grain colleagues and pairs nicely with African and Ethiopian style dishes. Before your next trip to the grocery store or market, mull millet over as a substitute for your regular grain choice. Try it with curries and stir-fries or in burgers, soups and salads. You will not be disappointed!