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Kodo Millets: Uses, Benefits, Side effects and More By Dr. Rajeev Singh

By Dr Rajeev Singh +2 more

Introduction: 

Kodo millets or magical millets are the must-have millets in your meals. Kodo millet or Paspalum scrobiculatum belongs to the family Poaceae, and is locally known as rice grass, ditch millet, cow grass in English, araka in Telugu and kodra in Marathi. Kodo millet grains are annual grains ranging from light red to dark grey. The cultivation of kodo millets started in India about 3000 years ago. Apart from India, it is cultivated in Russia, China, Africa and Japan. In India, it is widely grown in Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh.  

Among all millets available, it is well known for the highest drought resistance and produces high yield in a short duration thus is of great economic value. India is the world leader in the production of kodo millets, and thus its cultivation is of great economic significance. Kodo millets are cultivated in the kharif season (monsoon season) and are available in different varieties, namely Indira kodo, Jawahar kodo, TNAU, etc. Kodo millets are processed into high-value foods and drinks. Apart from economic and culinary benefits, kodo millets have numerous health benefits. Let us explore more about this superfood’s nutritional value, health benefits, and side effects.1,2 

kodo millet benefits

Nutritional Value of kodo millets: 

Kodo millets are packed with the goodness of carbohydrates, proteins, and dietary fibres. It contains vitamins like niacin and riboflavin and minerals like calcium, iron and phosphorus. The phytochemicals found in kodo millets include antioxidants along with phenolic compounds like vanillic acid, gallic acid, tannins, ferulic acid, etc. The nutritional components of kodo millets are given in the table below: 

Nutritional components Value per 100 g 
Carbohydrate 59.2 g 
Protein 10.6 g 
Fibre 10.2 g 
Fats 4.2 g 
Phosphorus 188 mg 
Potassium 107.8 mg 
Calcium 27.0 mg 
Sodium 3.48 mg 
Vitamin B3 2.0 mg 
Zinc 1.58 mg 
Iron 0.5 mg 
Vitamin B5 0.28 mg 
Vitamin B1 0.18 mg 
Vitamin B2 0.09 mg 
Folate 33.06 mcg 
Vitamin K 0.5 mcg 

In my own viewpoint, this humble grain is not only delicious but also has some surprising health benefits. Kodo millet is believed to have properties that might help in asthma. Not only that it might be beneficial for people suffering from migraine.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Table 1: Nutritional value of kodo millets1 

Did you know?

  • Kodo millets are a good source of B vitamins, including niacin, thiamine, and riboflavin. source: nutritionvalue.org
  • Kodo millets have a low fat content, making them a healthy choice for weight management. source: nutritionvalue.org
  • Kodo millets have a high antioxidant activity, which helps in reducing inflammation in the body. source: ncbi
  • Kodo millets are a good source of dietary fiber, which aids in digestion and promotes bowel regularity. source: nutritionvalue.org
  • Kodo millets have a low glycemic index, making them suitable for individuals with diabetes. source: ncbi

Properties of Kodo millets: 

Kodo millets show numerous scientifically proven properties; some of these properties are mentioned below: 

  • It may have antioxidant properties.1 
  • It may lower blood glucose levels.1 
  • It may lower blood pressure.1 
  • It may have anti-allergic properties.1 
  • It may be able to halt the abnormal growth of cells.3 
  • It may have the ability to reduce abnormally high lipid levels.4 
  • It may have antibacterial properties.5 

Let me tell you that these tiny grains might be heroes for your gallbladder! Kodo millets, thanks to their high fibre content, have the potential to avoid the formation of gallstones.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Potential Uses of Kodo Millets for Overall Health: 

Some of the potential benefits of kodo millets are described as follows: 

Potential uses of kodo millets on Lipid profile 

Hyperlipidemia is the elevation in lipid components like triglycerides, total cholesterol and reduced levels of high-density lipoprotein. Narra et al. conducted a study in 2013 to assess the effects of kodo millets on hyperlipidemia in rats. The results of this study showed that kodo millets helped reduce total cholesterol, triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein and caused a significant increase in high-density lipoprotein. This indicates that kodo millets may positively impact lipid profile. However, we need more clinical studies to support these claims in humans.4 

Potential uses of kodo millets for bacterial infections   

Literature shows that the consumption of kodo millets may have the potential to manage bacterial infections. A review conducted by Sharma et al. in 2016 stated that kodo millets could inhibit the growth of bacteria like S.aureus, Bacillus cereus, Leuconostoc mesenteroides and Enterococcus faecalis which cause urinary tract infections, diarrhoea, etc. Thus, kodo millets may help manage bacterial infections. However, we need more studies to support these claims.5 

Potential uses of kodo millets for type-2 diabetes  

Type-2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterised by an increase in blood glucose due to decreased production or resistance to a hormone called insulin which regulates blood glucose. A review conducted by Han et al. in 2022 stated that kodo millets might have the potential to decrease blood glucose levels. This effect is attributed to polyphenols, which inhibit enzymes that break down carbohydrates into simpler sugars and increase blood glucose. Additionally, kodo millets have a low glycemic index. Therefore, kodo millets may have the potential to manage type-2 diabetes. However, there are not enough studies to support these claims.6 

Potential uses of kodo millets in cancer  

Literature studies have supported the use of kodo millets and reduced risk of cancers. Chandrasekara et al. in 2010 conducted a review stating that kodo millets may potentially reduce cancer initiation and progression. This anti-cancer effect is attributed to the presence of phenolic acids, phytic acids and tannins in the grain. This indicates that kodo millets may reduce the risk of certain cancers. However, we need more scientific evidence to support these claims.1 

Potential uses of kodo millets in malnutrition 

Malnutrition is defined as the deficiency, excess or imbalance in the intake of energy and/or nutrients. The term malnutrition addresses 3 broad groups of conditions: 

  • Undernutrition 
  • Micronutrient-related malnutrition 
  • Overweight 

Kodo millets are highly nutritious due to the presence of carbohydrates, proteins, dietary fibres, vitamins like niacin, riboflavin and minerals like calcium, iron and phosphors. Kodo millets are also rich in antioxidants and phenolic compounds like vanillic acid, gallic acid, tannins, ferulic acid etc. Vinoth et al. in 2017 conducted a review stating that kodo millets may help manage micronutrient-related malnutrition. Thus, the consumption of kodo millets may positively impact malnutrition. Though scientific evidence to support these claims is limited, we need more studies to ascertain these claims with better results.7 

Other potential uses of kodo millets 

  • In Ayurveda, kodo millets have been used to provide relief from joint pain.
  • Kodo millets may help in irregular menstrual cycles. High potassium content in kodo millets may help reduce abdominal cramps during the menstrual cycle. However, the exact mechanism behind these benefits has yet to be fully understood.2,3 
  • Being a rich source of dietary fibers, kodo millets may help in managing constipation by improving bowel movements.3 
  • Kodo millets also help in weight loss, by increasing satiety due to the presence of fibres and proteins, which reduces overeating.3 
  • Kodo millets are rich in a protein called collagen, which increases the elasticity of the skin and may help in reducing wrinkles.8 
  • Kodo millets are loaded with prebiotic fibres, which may help improve gut health.3 

Though there are studies that show the benefits of kodo millets in various conditions, these are insufficient and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of kodo millets on human health.  

In my knowledge, kodo millets with their abundance of nutrients, have been found to have great benefits. They’re not just for filling your plate; they might actually help with inflammation, haemorrhages (excessive bleeding), and general weakness.

Dr. Smita barode, B.A.M.S, M.S.

How to Use Kodo millets? 

  • Kodo millets are ground into flour and blended with other cereal flour to prepare bakery items like biscuits, cakes, muffins, pasta, etc. Kodo millet flour can also be used to make chapattis. 
  • Kodo millet flour is used to prepare fermented foods like dosa, idli, etc. 
  • Kodo millet is also used to prepare porridge, pulao, etc.1 

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor.   

I have read in a research paper that the dried ethanol extract of kodo millet husk, when consumed, may have interesting effects on both animals and humans. It has been observed that this extract might cause a calming effect, leading to tranquillity, in various animal species. Additionally, when a human volunteer took the extract, they also experienced possible drowsiness.

Dr. Anuja Bodhare, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Also Read: The Power of Rice Water: A Secret to Healthy Hair

Side Effects of kodo millets: 

A few side effects related to the consumption of kodo millets include: 

  • Mary et al. in 2003 stated that consumption of contaminated kodo millets can result in kodo poisoning, characterised by an increased level of liver enzymes and liver toxicity. The clinical manifestations of this poisoning include vomiting, nausea, unconsciousness, etc.8 
  • Kodo millets contain goitrogens, which interfere with thyroid hormones and can result in an enlarged thyroid gland (goitre).9 

However, if you experience any adverse reactions to kodo millet, it is advised to discontinue its intake and immediately contact a doctor or your Ayurvedic physician who has prescribed it. They will be able to guide you appropriately for your symptoms. 

Also Read: Is Orzo Healthy? Your Guide to Understanding Its Nutritional Value

Precautions to Take With Kodo Millets: 

Eating kodo millet is okay if taken in moderate amounts. However, general precautions must be followed in the following conditions: 

  • In addition to the nutritional components, kodo millets also contain anti-nutrients like phytic acid, polyphenols, etc. which reduces the availability of nutritional components. Processing methods like soaking will help reduce the level of anti-nutrients. Therefore, it is advised to soak kodo millets before use.1 

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

  • As kodo millets can reduce blood glucose, you should avoid taking your anti-diabetic medications along with them, as this may cause your blood glucose to drop too low.6 
  • As kodo millets cause a reduction in cholesterol, it is advised not to take it along with cholesterol-reducing medicines like statins. This interaction may result in unwanted effects.5 

Therefore, you must always seek the advice of your Ayurvedic physician about the possible interaction of kodo millets with other drugs and follow the prescription thoroughly, as they will know your health condition and other medications you are taking. 

Also Read: Is Basmati Rice Healthy? A Comprehensive Nutritional Analysis

Frequently Asked Questions: 

1) What is the name of kodo millet in Marathi? 

Kodo millet is called “Kodra” in Marathi.1 

2) What are the different varieties of kodo millets available in the market? 

The different kodo millet varieties available in the market include Indira kodo, Jawahar kodo, TNAU, etc.1 

3)  Should kodo millets be soaked before use? 

Yes. Kodo millets contain anti-nutrients like phytic acid, polyphenols, etc. which reduces the availability of nutritional components. Processing methods like soaking will help reduce the level of anti-nutrients. Therefore, it is advised to soak kodo millets before use.1 

4) Can we use kodo millet for weight loss? 

Yes, as red rice is low in fat content and high in protein and fibres, it increases satiety and reduces overeating and may help in weight loss.3 

5) What are the side effects of kodo millets? 

Mary et al. in 2003 stated that consumption of contaminated kodo millets can result in kodo poisoning, characterised by increased liver enzymes and liver toxicity. The clinical manifestations of this poisoning include vomiting, nausea, unconsciousness, etc. Kodo millets contain goitrogens, which interfere with thyroid hormones and can result in an enlarged thyroid gland (goitre).8,9 

References: 

  1. Bunkar et al. Nutritional, Functional Role of Kodo Millet and its Processing: A Review, International Journal of Current Microbiology and Applied Sciences ISSN: 2319-7706 Volume 10 Number 01 (2021). Available at:  https://doi.org/10.20546/ijcmas.2021.1001.229 
  1. NUTRI CEREALS- IYoM 2023. Available at: https://nutricereals.dac.gov.in/ (Accessed: December 21, 2022).  
  1. Naturally Yours , Kodo Millet – nutrition, benefits and recipes, Naturally Yours. Available at: https://naturallyyours.in/blogs/blog/kodo-millet-nutrion-benefits-and-recipes (Accessed: December 20, 2022). 
  1. Satish Narra, Bandenawaz Ramadurg, Saraswathi CD. Antihyperlipidemic Activity of Paspalum scrobiculatum L. Grains Extract in Albino Rats. Research J. Pharmacology and Pharmacodynamics. 2013; 5(6): 362-370. Available at: https://rjppd.org/HTMLPaper.aspx?Journal=Research%20Journal%20of%20Pharmacology%20and%20Pharmacodynamics;PID=2013-5-6-20 
  1. Sharma S, Sharma N, Handa S, Pathania S. Evaluation of health potential of nutritionally enriched Kodo millet (Eleusine coracana) grown in Himachal Pradesh, India. Food Chem. 2017 Jan 1;214:162-168. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2016.07.086. Epub 2016 Jul 12. PMID: 27507461. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27507461/ 
  1. Wang, Han et al. “Effect of Different Processing Methods on the Millet Polyphenols and Their Anti-diabetic Potential.” Frontiers in nutrition vol. 9 780499. 11 Feb. 2022, doi:10.3389/fnut.2022.780499. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/358534642_Effect_of_Different_Processing_Methods_on_the_Millet_Polyphenols_and_Their_Anti-diabetic_Potential 
  1. Vinoth, A, and R Ravindhran. “Biofortification in Millets: A Sustainable Approach for Nutritional Security.” Frontiers in plant science vol. 8 29. 23 Jan. 2017, doi:10.3389/fpls.2017.00029. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5253353/ 
  1. Antony, Mary et al. “Potential risk of acute hepatotoxicity of kodo poisoning due to exposure to cyclopiazonic acid.” Journal of ethnopharmacology vol. 87,2-3 (2003): 211-4. doi:10.1016/s0378-8741(03)00146-6. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12860310/ 
  1. Sonali et al. “Millets – Miracle grain”. Rashtriya Krishi | Vol. 15 (1)| Jun., 2020. Available at: http://researchjournal.co.in/online/RKE/RKE-15(1)/15_57-60.pdf 

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