Known as sorghum in English, Jowar is globally being touted as the “new quinoa” for its gluten-free, whole grain goodness. In India, Jowar, known as Cholam in Tamil and Jonna in Telugu, is a staple, especially in the western and southern parts of the country where it is ground into flour and is used to make rotis, bhakri, cheela, dosa etc.
The ancient grain, a member of the millet family, is having a revival at the moment as people shift away from refined wheat products which are not considered good for health.
Table of contents
12 Health Benefits of Jowar
Its high nutrient composition makes jowar a desirable grain when it comes to good health. Here are some of the several benefits of the whole-grain:
Gluten is a protein component found in wheat and barley-based foods, and is believed to cause digestive problems such as bloating, pain and stomach cramps. Jowar, a gluten-free whole grain, is considered an excellent alternative for people who suffer from ‘gluten intolerance‘ and it is rich in nutrients as well.
Rich in Fiber
Compared to other cereal grains like barley or rice, jowar contains a much higher concentration of fiber. A single serving contains more than 12 grams, which is more than the recommended daily intake of 48%. A high fiber diet lowers risk of obesity, stroke, high blood pressure, cardiac disease, diabetes and digestive problems.
Controls Blood Sugar Levels
Jowar, a complex carbohydrate, is digested slowly, prompting a more gradual rise in blood sugar. That’s why it’s a great diet choice for diabetics and people who want to lose weight.
One cup of jowar has 22 grams of protein, which supplies the body with energy as well as aids in cell regeneration.
Full of Iron
Jowar contains 8.45 milligrams of iron in every cup. Since the iron in jowar is non-heme (difficult to absorb), pairing it with meat or a source of Vitamin C will give you maximum benefit.
Good for Bone Health
Because it contains high levels of magnesium, jowar helps maintain calcium levels in the body (magnesium increases calcium absorption).
Packed with Vitamins, Minerals and Micronutrients
It contains B vitamins, which help the body build new tissues and cells, as well as potassium and phosphorous. Additionally, jowar contains traces of zinc, copper and over 20 micronutrients as well as high levels of antioxidants.
Jowar has a much higher concentration of dietary fiber, when compared to other cereal grains. A single serving contains more than 12 grams, contributing to 48% of the daily recommended fiber intake.
This high fiber content ensures higher satiety levels, leading to lower consumption by keeping hunger pangs at bay.
Therefore, the fiber content in jowar reduces your appetite, making it the ideal whole grain option for weight loss.
The high dietary fiber content in jowar also helps improve digestion. The fiber is a bulking agent that helps stool pass smoothly through the digestive tract.
The whole grain helps improve digestive health and is useful in treating conditions like diarrhea, bloating, stomach ache and constipation.
Improves Heart Health
As discussed earlier, jowar is rich in dietary fiber. The abundance of fiber in it helps lower LDL (or bad cholesterol) levels in the body, thus reducing the risk of heart attack.
The cholesterol lowering properties of jowar also reduce the chances of hindered blood flow, arteriosclerosis and plaque formation.
The whole grain also contains antioxidants, apart from nutrients like magnesium, iron, and vitamins B and E. This helps avoid several cardiovascular conditions.
Jowar also helps regulate plasma LDL cholesterol concentration, while improving the HDL levels in the body.
Improves Energy Levels
Sorghum contains high amounts of niacin (or Vitamin B3). The B vitamin is integral in transforming food into energy usable by the body. Niacin ensures that the energy levels in the body are consistent through the day rather than observing sudden spikes of energy. A rich source of niacin, a single serving of jowar accounts for 28% of the recommended daily intake.
Iron and copper are two important minerals found in jowar. These minerals come together to play a key role in improving the body’s blood circulation.
Iron is crucial to the development of red blood cells in the body, while copper helps enhance the absorption of iron in the body. Thus, consuming the grain helps improve the development of red blood cells, and improves the overall circulation of blood in the body, while also reducing the chances of anaemia.
A single serving of jowar can give you 58% of your daily recommended intake of copper.
Jowar vs Wheat
Jowar (100 g)
Wheat (100 g)
Upon comparing the nutrition values of jowar and wheat, one can see that the micronutrient content in both are similar. However, jowar stands out when you consider factors such as glycemic index and gluten content.
Since jowar has a low glycemic index (62) compared to whole wheat (72), it takes more time to release glucose into the blood. This helps prevent spikes in blood sugar levels.
In addition to that, it is also worth noting that jowar is gluten-free, and wheat is not. Although their nutrition values may be similar, their glycemic index and gluten content may be reason enough to substitute wheat in your daily meals with jowar.
How you can make jowar part of your daily diet
Jowar is among the healthiest choices you can make for your daily carbohydrate intake. Given a typical balanced diet comprises 55-60% carbohydrates, you can have one or one-and-a-half servings of jowar twice a day, either at breakfast, lunch or dinner.
The easiest way to incorporate this millet in your diet is through rotis. It is best paired with other cereals and pulses. For example, you can make multigrain atta by mixing 50% whole wheat with 50% jowar and other cereals like bajra, ragi, soya, etc.
You can also use this flour to make porridge, which is very healthy for children. Roast multigrains like whole wheat, jowar, bajra, ragi, etc. with green mung, chana (Bengal gram) dal, sago (sabudana), etc. to the multigrain atta, and cook it till it reaches the consistency of porridge, using one part flour and three parts water. If you want to serve it savoury, add jeera (cumin) and salt. If your kids prefer sweet porridge, try gud (jaggery) and milk instead. Adding crushed almonds will enhance its nutritional value.
If you are fond of dosas and idlis, you can add jowar to the usual rice batter in a 2:1 ratio (two parts jowar flour, one part rice idli batter). You can even make jowar cupcakes, by substituting the refined flour in any cupcake recipe with 50% whole wheat and 50% jowar flour.
Jowar is a little denser than whole wheat, so the taste may take a little getting used to at first. However, diversifying your food grains is the best way to increase the nutritional quotient of your daily diet.
Jowar Indian Recipes
Healthy food can be incredibly delicious too. These recipes let you enjoy the goodness of sorghum while also satisfying your taste buds.
1 ½ cup Jowar Flour
½ tsp Garlic Paste
½ tsp Ginger Chilli Paste
1 Small Onion
1 Small Tomato
1 tbsp Dhania / Cilantro
Salt to taste
Oil to grease the pan
- Dice up the vegetables keep aside in a bowl.
- Add the jowar flour, along with the finely diced onions in a big bowl. Further add finely diced tomatoes, coriander, garlic paste, ginger chilli paste and salt. Now mix all the ingredients with a spoon.
- Once everything is mixed, add water a little at a time, and knead the dough.
- Once it is ready, take a small piece of dough(the size of a small lemon), and press them in your hands.
- Repeat the process with more small pieces of dough till you’re done with all of it. If you are not comfortable using your hand for this, you can use the help of a rolling board. You could also choose to use one big piece of dough instead of several small ones.
- Once a few of them have been pressed, it’s time to roast them. Start greasing a heated griddle with oil and add the pressed dough to it, then cook on a medium flame for 2 minutes.
- Flip them and cook for the next two minutes, or until golden spots appear on both sides.
- Remove them, and serve while hot.
Dates and Coconut Modak with Jowar Flour
1 Cup Jowar Flour
1/2 Cup Grated Fresh Coconut
1/2 cup Chopped Dates
2 tbsp White Sesame Seeds
1 tsp Ghee
A pinch of salt
- Dry roast the sesame seeds on a medium flame. Continue this until they turn light brown. Now allow them to cool. Grind them to a fine powder and set them aside.
- Grind the chopped dates till they form a paste. Add the paste, the ground sesame seeds and grated fresh coconut in a bowl. Mix them well. Roll the mixture into small round balls, and keep them aside.
- Add the flour and salt to a wide bowl. Add boiling water a little at a time to the flour. Mix it well with a spatula, and make a soft dough.
- Allow the dough to cool for 3-5 minutes before kneading it well. Ensure that the dough is soft and smooth.
- Use a little ghee to grease your palms. Then, flatten a ball of the rice flour dough.
- Place a ball of the dates mixture in the middle. Now cover it from all sides, and shape it into a ball.
- Steam cook this mixture in greased idly plates for 10-15 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
Ragi and Jowar Kanji
1 cup Ragi powder
2 cups Jowar powder
Jaggery to taste
3 cups Water
Elaichi (powder or whole)
Milk as needed
- Roast the ragi and jowar flour separately. Now, mix them together and add water, and stir the mixture well. Make sure no lumps are formed. Add the grated jaggery, as per your liking.
- Mix it well till all the jaggery pieces have dissolved, and the mixture is thick. Sprinkle elaichi over the mixture for flavour.
- Allow this mixture to cool. Pour two tablespoons of the concentrate in a tall glass. Now, add unsweetened milk to it.
- Mix it well till it becomes homogeneous and easy to drink.
- Store the concentrate in a glass container in the refrigerator for up to 6 hours before they spoil.
From weight loss to improved heart health, jowar has its own range of health benefits. Make the millet a regular part of your diet, and enjoy these benefits. You could do so with the help of the delicious recipes mentioned above.
A: Jowar is high in fiber, and it keeps you full for longer periods. Thus, it prevents the consumption of excess calories and contributes to weight loss. It is also packed with essential vitamins and minerals.
A: Yes, one can eat jowar rotis on a daily basis.
A: Jowar is millet, and millets do contain carbohydrates. However, due to the higher amount of fiber, the carbs in jowar are complex carbs which doesn’t get digested as quickly.
A: No, it is not keto friendly. Jowar is a carbohydrate source and it might shoot up your carbohydrate content, therefore making it unsuitable for a keto diet.