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Ragi (Finger Millet) Nutrition, Health Benefits And Recipes

Updated on July 5, 2016
rajan jolly profile image

Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has worked as a poultry breeder for 23 years, breeding layer and broiler parents.

Ragi (Finger Millet)

Ragi grains
Ragi grains | Source

About Ragi (Finger Millet)

Latin name : Eleusine coracana

Ragi, besides being known as finger millet, is also known as African finger millet, red millet, aracan millet, koracan & dagusa.

In India, it is popularly called ragi. Among other Indian names for it, are, mandua, mangal, kodra, mandia & nachni.

Though finger millet originated in Africa it has been cultivated in India for about 4000 years. It is extensively grown and consumed in South India. Uganda and Ethopia are the other countries where it is cultivated on a large scale.

Finger millet is a minor but common cereal in India and belongs to the family of grasses. They have small seeds/grains, and the plant, like all millets, is extremely hardy & adaptable. It can grown in the least of fertile soils and in very diverse ecological areas, from plains to plateaus to hills. It is especially suited to hot and dry areas as its water requirement is very less.

Ragi is a gluten free grain that is commonly used as flour in India, to make roti, the Indian flatbread. Besides this, finger millet is used to make porridge, puddings, idlis, dosa, laddus and, even, beverages.

Ragi mudde (balls of ragi) is a very popular preparation made from ragi flour in Karnataka state of India while homemade ragi malt is a popular infant food in South India.

In the Tamil Nadu state of India, ragi porridge is a popular offering to Goddess Kali during any festival associated with this Goddess.

Finger millet is most of the time sprouted, then dried and roasted before it is ground into a flour. This is so because sprouting activates enzymes which breakdown complex starches into sugar & other simple carbohydrates, making it easier to digest.

Ragi protein is as complete as milk protein and is thus a perfect replacement for those who are lactose intolerant. Besides, it is a perfect as a cereal for those who are gluten intolerant and cannot tolerate wheat.

Though looked upon as a poor man's food, as it is mostly grown in third world countries, finger millet is a grain that deserves more respect than its more popular, contemporary grains, because of its exceptionally higher nutrient levels.

Finger Millet

Click thumbnail to view full-size
finger milletHarvested finger millet
finger millet
finger millet | Source
Harvested finger millet
Harvested finger millet | Source

Ragi (Finger Millet) Nutrition

  • Although ragi contains almost the same protein as rice, it has higher levels of tryptophan, cysteine & methionine. Moreover, because of the higher biological value of eleusinin it contains as the main protein fraction, it is absorbed more readily.
  • It is a tich souce of minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron and potassium.
  • The dietary levels of fiber as well as the antioxidants and the beneficial phytochemicals is high. It is polyphenols' rich as the grains' seed coat is incorporated into the flour.
  • Finger millet is rich in Bcomplex vitamins like niacin, B6 and folic acid.

For individual nutrient values, and how they relate to their daily needs, please refer to the nutritional table below.

Nutrient Composition Of Ragi

Nutrient Composition of Finger Millet
7.3 gm
11.5 gm
1.3 gm
328 Kcal
1.1 mg
344 mg
283 mg
3.9 mg
137 mg
11 mg
408 mg
0.47 mg
5.49 mg
0.102 mg
2.3 mg
0.028 mg
42 mcg
Amino Acids
per gm protein
594 mg
413 mg
325 mg
275 mg
263 mg
194 mg
191 mg
181 mg
163 mg

Some Ragi Dishes

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ragi Mudde, the most popular form of finger millet consumption in Karnataka state of IndiaRagi IdliKammang koozh, a porridge made with Ragi
Ragi Mudde, the most popular form of finger millet consumption in Karnataka state of India
Ragi Mudde, the most popular form of finger millet consumption in Karnataka state of India | Source
Ragi Idli
Ragi Idli | Source
Kammang koozh, a porridge made with Ragi
Kammang koozh, a porridge made with Ragi | Source

Recipes With Ragi (Finger Millet)

Try these healthy finger millet recipes.

Ragi Mudde

Ambali (Ragi Drink)

Ragi Dosa

Ragi Idli

Ragi Laddoo

Ragi Roti

Ragi Vada - By VahChef

Ragi Biscuit | Sanjeev Kapoor Khazana

Health Benefits Of Ragi (Finger Millet)

  • Keeps Bones Healthy

The high calcium levels help in bone development in children as well as maintaining the strength & integrity of bones in adults. This helps to reduce risk of bones getting fractured or broken as well of osteoporosis, the thinning and weakening of bones, as seen in the elderly.
Include ragi kanji or porridge in diet of children and adults to enjoy the benefit of having strong bones.

  • Controls High Blood Sugar & Diabetes

Because the dietary fiber is high, it is slowly absorbed into the blood. This helps blood sugar spikes. The complex carbohydrates and the phytochemicals too are helpful in controlling diabetes. Finger millet helps in quicker wound healing in diabetics.

  • Lowers Cancer & Heart Disease Risk

High antioxidant levels, the phenolic acids, flavonoids and tannins, all these help prevent inflammation and oxidation, destroy free radicals, factors that promote the risk of cancer and heart disease.

  • Lowers Cholesterol & Other Benefits

Finger millet not only reduces LDL cholesterol but also triglyceride levels. It also prevents their oxidation thereby preventing their deposition in the arteries as plaque which causes heart attack and stroke. It therefore reduces risk of heart attacks and stroke.

The aminoacids lecithin, methoinine eliminates fat from the liver while the threonine prevents fat formation in liver.

  • Delays Aging

The phenols and antioxidants in ragi prevent crosslinking of collagen in the blood vessels, tendons and skin, thus maintaining their elasticity and preventing stiffness. This delays aging and its symptoms.

  • Aids In Weight Loss

The aminoacid tryptophan reduces appetite. Since ragi contains high levels of tryptophan, as also dietary fiber, and is low in fats which are in unsaturated form, the combined effect of all these is reducing weight by reducing hunger pangs by keeping one full longer and slowing down the absorption rate.

  • Combats Anemia

High iron levels raise hemoglobin levels while the vitami C that is produced when ragi is sprouted, makes the iron more bio available and readily absorbable.

  • Provides Anti Microbial Benefits

Ragi acts against several bacteria including the food poisoning causative Bacillus cereus, the typhoid causing, Salmonella typhimurium, and the Staphyllococcus aureus which causes skin and tissue infections like abcesses as well as cellulitis.

  • An Excellent Infant Food

Since ragi is malted before consumption, it has increased digestibility and nutrient availability. This makes it an excellent infant food as it not only provides high levels of nutrients necessary fro growth but is also easy on the infants' stomach being easily digestible.

  • Increases Breast Milk

Green ragi (before the grain matures) promotes lactation. Also, as it has many essential amino acids, iron and calcium, it benefits both the mother and the child.

  • A Natural Probiotic

Fermented finger millet drink is a natural probiotic treatment for diarrhea. Also, ragi in diet prevents mucosal ulcers from developing.


The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies or supplements or embarking on a new health regime.

© 2016 Rajan Singh Jolly


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    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Peggy, not all Indian flatbread is made from Ragi flour. Most of it made with wheat flour. Yes, ragi is a very nutritious grain, and better still a gluten free one, so it makes sense to use it more often.

      I'm glad you appreciate the benefits of this millet. Thanks for pinning my article too. I appreciate your visit.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      This was so very informative. Since Indian flatbread is made from Ragi flour I may have eaten some without realizing what was in it. It sounds like a perfect food for so many reasons! Thanks for writing this. Pinning this article to my health board.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      @Chitrangada, not many in the North consume ragi on a regular basis as not much awareness is there of its so many health benefits. I'm glad you however do try to.

      Thanks for reading and appreciating this hub.

      @ Vellur, thanks for reading & commenting.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      4 years ago from Dubai

      An informative hub about millet and the health benefits of millet.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      What a wonderful and detailed hub about Ragi!

      I had not seen it's plant . Thanks for sharing the pictures and all the information. The videos are amazing .

      Ragi definitely is a very healthy option and I try to include it in my diet as much as possible.

      Thanks for sharing this excellent and informative hub!

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      You are very right Dianna. Ragi can more than compete with most gluten free foods because of its nutritional density. You could possible give it a try. Thanks for stopping by.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      4 years ago

      This does seem to be equal to the popular gluten free foods out there today. It is highly beneficial to a body and I would certainly use it in recipes. Low sodium, high in potassium, among other things -- seems as if this is perfect food for those needing nutrients.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Thank you Devika.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      India has an abundance of foods. I like the photos and this is an informative hub. I enjoy learning something about foods and spices.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      @bill, don't worry we have enough of your kind of food too! Lol...

      @Flourish, cultural differences always make an outing so much enjoyable. Not to worry though, there is also your type of food here.

      @manatita, ragi is a minor cereal so most people, the middle class and up, do not consume it to a large extent depending on the common one like wheat. Thanks for the visit.

    • manatita44 profile image


      4 years ago from london

      Seem to be not only rich in protein and minerals, but has a variety of uses also. I have had ladu many times, so it is quite possible that I've had the Ragi. Very informative Hub, Bro.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      I've never heard of this but am continually amazed at how people can cultivate crops from land that isn't always hospitable and find diverse uses for them. My daughter has an invitation from an Indian friend to go stay with the girl's grandparents for a few weeks next summer. I don't think she even imagines the differences in culture, including food.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I fear I would starve in your country. You have all these foods I've never eaten. LOL

      as always, thanks for the education


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