This will be a close call, guys! Read up!
You must have seen fitness influencers on Instagram Reels claiming to have shed those extra kilos thanks to their quinoa salad bowls! Or heard your ‘gym bro’ brag about his love for this ‘pseudo-cereal’. New, must-have superfoods keep hitting our markets too frequently before we can even decide on which one to try! Quinoa has been leading this fad for quite some time now.
However, we forget that our desi grains like millets (bajra, jowar and ragi and more fall under this category)—are equally great. Let’s take a closer look at how our local bajra (pearl millet) fares against the videshi quinoa!
ROUND 1: NUTRITION
Both quinoa and bajra are naturally gluten-free. Both also are great sources for fibre and magnesium. Fibre is great for gut health, aids in digestion, and keeps you fuller for long! Magnesium is great for heart health and also can keep blood sugar levels in check. They are rich in antioxidants, which our bodies need to fight off disease-causing free radicals.
The major nutritional difference between the two grains is their amino acid profiles: Quinoa is a complete protein and contains all nine amino acids human bodies can’t produce on their own! While bajra is a great source of protein it isn’t a complete one. So, while both are great for vegans or vegetarians who don’t eat animal protein—you’ll need to add a complete source of protein if you switch to millets. Fret not, you can add other complete proteins to your bajra rotis or salads—such as soy, chia seeds and so on.
VERDICT: Quinoa leads round one by a narrow margin for being a complete protein!
ROUND 2: COST
Quinoa is native to South America. Though, they’re now cultivated in 70 countries across continents. However, it’s hard on your wallet! Bajra on the other hand, is a fraction of the cost of its videshi superfood counterpart!
Bangalore-based Nutritionist Chandini Shetty says, “Our Indian millets like jowar, ragi and bajra are not only equally nutritious, but also much more affordable compared to quinoa. Affordability and availability are few of the main factors you have to look into when you’re educating the masses on various foods and their nutritional benefits.”
VERDICT: Bajra takes round two because it won’t send your monthly grocery budget for a toss!
ROUND 3: ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
Bajra or the rest of the millet family, are weeds that have withstood the test of time. They’ve been a part of our Indian diets. Their revival is essential as the world faces extreme climatic events due to global warming. The crop doesn’t require any fertilisers, too much water or pesticides to grow—and can, in fact, withstand drought or even very hot and cold temperatures! Besides, it’s indigenous to our country.
Quinoa isn’t native to our country, and can have an environmental impact. Most millets are naturally non-GMO and pesticide-free. In looking for new-age strategies to control climate change and maintain adequate food production—global political leaders, policy makers and researchers are—trying to go back to the ‘old ways’ and focusing on reviving ancient grains like millets in order to secure the future.
VERDICT: Bajra wins this round hands down!
THE FINAL VERDICT
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