Why Bhakri Is Better Than Wheat Roti: Health Benefits of Gluten-Free Grains Like Jowar, Bajra and Ragi You Can't Ignore
Bhakri (Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons)

Most states of our country have their own versions of rotis, however, wheat rotis are the staple in most Indian states. Bhakri is a coarser version of roti prepared with bajra (pearl millet) or jowar (sorghum) or ragi (finger millet) or a mixture of these, which are native to Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Goa, Gujarat and central India. Though all these grains including wheat have good amounts of dietary fibre, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and carbohydrates, there are differences in qualities. Let’s find out why replacing traditional wheat rotis with bhakri is a healthier alternative.

One should try eating more foods with alkaline properties; bajra, jowar and ragi are alkaline in nature, while whole wheat is acidic. Alkaline foods may benefit bone health, reduce muscle wasting, and prevent hypertension, strokes and chronic illnesses. They also can improve cardiovascular and brain health along with effective excretion of toxins from the body. Foods of alkaline nature make magnesium readily available, which is required for the function of many enzymes and for activation of vitamin D. Consume acidic foods to a minimum for optimal health - why? Gluten-Free Diet: What Are The Benefits (and Disadvantages) of Going Gluten-Free?

The protein gluten is a potential allergen in wheat, but wheat has several other allergens which can cause discomfort and allergies in certain individuals. Bajra, jowar and ragi are gluten free and ideal for people with gluten allergies; thus by switching over to bhakri should be a wise choice.

The glycemic index and glycemic load of bhakri are lower than wheat rotis which indicates that these grains are slowly digested, absorbed & metabolised, resulting in lower & slower rise in blood glucose. Thus bhakri can help manage diabetes and its complications.

  • Jowar may also help in decreasing post-meal blood glucose levels.
  • Bajra has the lowest glycemic index as compared to other grains due to which it offers better control of diabetes

Total polyphenol content is lowest in wheat as compared to other grains and millets. Polyphenols are wonder compounds (also called antioxidants) found in plants, which help fight inflammation and various diseases/ conditions. Here is why you should choose bajra, jowar and ragi over wheat:

Bajra

Bajra is richer in fat content than other grains, and most of the fats are goods fats-unsaturated fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids which are present in it has the potential to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, arthritis & certain types of cancer. These essential fatty acids help reduction of triglyceride levels, controlling blood pressure and boost immunity. It has high levels of polyphenols which have anti-cancer properties and known to inhibit tumour development. It contains good amounts of iron (6-8 mg/100 grams) which may help to increase haemoglobin levels. The high fibre content of bajra is helpful in dealing with obesity, deranged blood cholesterol levels and constipation.

Jowar

Jowar contains compounds which act against colon cancer cells and reduce the risk of certain cancers. Presence of polyphenols and other beneficial components helps in managing blood cholesterol levels by lowering non-HDL (bad) cholesterol levels and promoting cardiovascular health. It has good amounts of vitamin-k which is required for blood clotting and bone health. Learn How to Make Thalipeeth For Festive Breakfast (Watch Video).

Ragi

Ragi’s health benefits are also attributed to its high content of calcium and polyphenols. Calcium plays an important role in improving bone density and thereby decreases the risk of osteoporosis. Dietary fibre present in it delays nutrient absorption, lowers blood lipids and promotes regular bowel function. These tiny millets also prevent the formation of tumours and arterial plaque; it also exhibits antimicrobial properties.

(This article has been contributed by Ms Swati Bhushan, Chief Clinical Nutritionist, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi-A Fortis Network Hospital)