In the past, ragi (Kezhvaragu) was a staple diet for the common people in our country. It has a rich heritage to its pride. It was consumed in the name of ‘keppai kali’ and ‘keppai koozh’. Keppai koozh still continues to be one of the offerings that is made to the Goddess during the periodical festivals.
Ragi is one of the millets which is widely in use throughout the world. It is known as ‘keppai’ or ‘ragi’. In India, it is cultivated in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Tamil Nadu and Bihar States.
Ragi can comfortably be given to right from new-born baby to 90-year old person without any hesitation. While the cost is meagre, the benefits are immense. During temple festivals in the Tamil month of Adi, this ragi porridge is prepared in huge quantity, offered to the Deities and then distributed to all the devotees. Let us see the medicinal benefits in the foregoing essay
Strengthens the bones:-
Calcium is responsible for bone strength and it is more abundant in ragi than other grains including rice. This is most useful to old people and women, especially those who have crossed their menopause as they are prone to osteoporosis (wear and tear of bones in the body).
Reduces excess body weight:-
This is an ideal food for those who want to shed excess weight. The tryptophan amino acid present in ragi will control the appetite as a result of which one will immediately get satiety and hence will consume less.
Most suited for diabetic patients:-
When compared to rice, ragi contains less carbohydrate but more fibre content. Moreover, this belongs to low glycaemic index food which means that after eating the ragi, it will not immediately result in increase of sugar in the blood. It would be better for the diabetic patients to take it in the form of bread or solid substance instead of porridge.
Its twin functions of a) removing the bad fat and b) adding the good fat to the body are very favourable. The lecithin and methionine amino acids possess the quality of reducing the bad fat from the liver.
Those who have anaemia and less haemoglobin in the body can take ragi as their daily food which will prevent both the problems most effectively.
Removes body heat:-
Normally, ragi will remove body heat and make it cool. Particularly, during summer time it will help one to keep the balance by reducing excess heat in the body. This will also be helpful in addressing mental depression.
Gives extra energy:-
Ragi contains lot of protein which will give extra energy to the body. Those who are engaged in physical activity can rely on this for boosting their physical fitness.
Since ragi contains lot of fibre content, it will facilitate easy digestion and hence will not give room for constipation.
Ideal food for thyroid patients:-
Undoubtedly, it is a boon for the thyroid patients, especially the hyperthyroid patients. They can take it in the form of food daily.
Good for expectant mothers:-
This is a good food for expectant mothers and post-delivery mothers who need to give breast milk for their babies. Ragi will increase breast milk secretion. It will also help those who experience heavy bleeding during menstruation.
Ragi’s multi forms:-
Porridge is not the only form to consume. Throughout the year this crop is available and it can be consumed in any form like idly, dosa, puttu, kali, porridge, bread, savoury like pakkoda and sweet ball and derive the benefits.
Thus ragi (kezhvaragu) is the most simple, stable, staple and useful diet for any age group.
(This article originally written in Tamil by G Lakshmanan has been reproduced in English by P S Ramamurthy)