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Can millets be a part of your Navratri fasting plan?

The country is currently rejoicing in Navratri festivities, the nine days dedicated to worshipping the nine forms of Goddess Shakti. This year, Chaitra Navratri is being celebrated from March 22 to March 30 — which will be observed as Ram Navami. As per tradition, during this auspicious period, many people choose to observe a fast and stay away from many food items, including grains. But did you know that you can always have millets, which are known as a powerhouse of nutrients? Against the backdrop of the International Year of Millets being celebrated this year, let’s understand how millets can be incorporated into our fasting diets.

If we manage to stick to a non-fried food diet, Navratri can turn out to be a healthy way to “detox”, said Garima Goyal, a registered dietitian.

But millets are grains. Can they be included?

“While grains are to be avoided during Navratri fasting, pseudocereals such as amaranth (rajgira), quinoa, buckwheat (‘kuttu ka atta’), barnyard millet (sanwa), foxtail millet (rala), little millet (wari) and other grain flours including singhaare ka atta and samak are usually allowed,” Goyal told indianexpress.com.

She added that the commonality in these grain flours is that they are gluten-free and contain many nutrients. “These are also considered sattvic,” Goyal told indianexpress.com.

Why should you have millet during the fast anyway?

Millets are abundant in a mineral called magnesium, which is very effective in decreasing blood pressure and preventing strokes, said Goyal, adding that they are also a powerhouse of nutrition when it comes to decreasing the risk of coronary heart diseases.

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“Also, the potassium present in millets keeps the blood pressure low by acting as a vasodilator and helps to reduce cardiovascular risk,” noted dietitian Lovneet Batra in an Instagram post enlisting the benefits of millets.

constipation Constipation occurs due to lack of fibre (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Additionally, a common issue those fasting face is constipation. This is where millets — rich in fibre — can help. They can aid in digestion and help in smooth bowel movements.

They also help improve oxygen in the blood. “Millets contain minerals like iron and copper, which are required for the production of the blood cells and improving blood oxygenation,” Batra noted.

Millets are also full of antioxidant phytochemicals such as ellagic acid, quercetin and catechins, which naturally detoxify the body and are also linked to the prevention of chronic diseases, said Goyal.

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How to use them?

Use these pseudo cereals to make sheeras, upma, idlis and rotis. “These grains can also be cooked as rice. Millets can also be made as savoury as idli or sweet as muffin,” Goyal shared.

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