Is Ragi Good for Diabetes? Find Out.

Sarah Gaur

May 26, 2023

In recent times, an increase in the spread of lifestyle disorders such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity has led us to a corner. People are seriously taking a look at the foods they are consuming to prevent the further surge of these problems. 

Ragi is one of the foods people have tried to use in much larger amounts in recent years due to the bioavailability of minerals and vitamins and its various health benefits. Nutritionists suggest that the consumption of ragi is highly beneficial for individuals with obesity or diabetes. Let’s learn about ragi and its uses in combating lifestyle disorders.

Ragi Overview

Ragi, grown in dry, hot climates and at high altitudes, is also known as finger millet.This is because the head of the grain consists of five spikes in a curving manner from the central point like fingers attached to the palm. It comes in different colours, ranging from red to black and sometimes white. 

Ragi has a higher fibre and calcium content than any other cereal. It is a good source of nutrition for growing children, pregnant women, aged people, and patients fostering various metabolic diseases. It is because of the rich amount of calcium, phytochemicals, and phenolic compounds present in this cereal. These compounds make it easy to digest. Therefore, people generally use it in meal preparations to make pudding, dumplings, chapati, or steamed ragi dishes.

In addition, ragi has been gaining popularity owing to its slowly digestible and resistant starch, which keeps the body fuller for longer and helps better manage blood sugar levels. 

Nutritional Properties of Ragi

Ragi contains an immense amount of calcium, iron, dietary fibre, essential amino acids, and other minerals.

It is rich in phenolic compounds and phytochemicals, which exhibit high antioxidant activity. Along with this, it contains high-quality protein, vitamin A, B complex, and phosphorus. It is a rich source of methionine, isoleucine, leucine, phenylalanine, and other essential amino acids.

The Nutritional Value of ragi is as per 100g serving:

  • Energy: 336 kcal
  • Protein: 7.7 gm
  • Fat: 1.5 gm
  • Fibre: 11.5 gm
  • Carbohydrate: 72.6 gm
  • Calcium: 350 mg
  • Iron: 3.9 mg
  • Magnesium : 137 mg
  • Phosphorus: 283 mg
  • Manganese: 5.94 mg
  • Potassium: 408 mg

6 Health Benefits of Ragi

 1. High Calcium Content

Ragi contains polyunsaturated fatty acids such as linoleic and linolenic acid. It facilitates the normal development of the central nervous system. In addition, it is a source of calcium, with up to 350 mg/100 g of calcium present in the seeds.

Its calcium content is 5-10 times higher than other cereals. Furthermore, the absence of lactose sugar in ragi makes it easily digestible and promotes maximum calcium absorption. This makes it an ideal food grain for weaning babies, lactose-sensitive people, growing children, old age for bone mass development, and to treat other bone ailments such as osteoporosis.

 2. Rich In Fibre 

Ragi is rich in soluble and insoluble dietary fibre and roughage which takes longer to digest and thereby keeps one fuller for longer.

Furthermore, studies have shown that fibre helps prevent gastrointestinal disorders, colon cancer, coronary heart diseases, and diabetes. 

The insoluble fibre component of ragi helps bulk the stool by retaining water in faeces. It acts as a laxative that stimulates bowel mobility and prevents constipation. 

On the other hand, the soluble fibre component of ragi helps in lubrication and soothing the inflamed digestive tract. It reduces peptic inflammation and exhibits anti-ulcerative properties.

 3. Promotes Weight Loss

Finger millet carbohydrate composition is slowly digestible and takes longer to absorb. As a result, it increases the satiety level, reduces excessive calorie intake, and prevents hunger pangs, promoting weight loss.

Ragi is a highly balanced grain ideal for both undernourished and obese groups. It contains valine, methionine, and tryptophan which are scarcely present in vegetarian diets. In addition, it has low-fat content, making it even more suitable for obese people. 

 4. Prevents Cardiovascular Disorders

Cardiovascular disorders have become the primary cause of worldwide mortality. Abnormal blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, hypertension, depression, obesity, and diabetes are factors that aggravate cardiac conditions. Consuming a millet diet significantly decreases serum triglycerides and total cholesterol levels. 

Reports suggest that phenolic compounds found in finger millet lower levels of LDL cholesterol in the body. As a result, it reduces the instances of atherosclerosis , ultimately decreasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. In addition, the soluble fibre in ragi also reduces the reabsorption of bile acids and LDL cholesterol.

 5. Perfect for Celiac Disease

In recent times, the prevalence of autoimmune disorders has increased significantly. Celiac disease is one of the most common autoimmune disorders wherein the host is unable to digest a particular type of protein known as gluten

People suffering from gluten sensitivity are to refrain from consuming gluten-containing cereals such as wheat, rye and barley which sometimes leads to nutrient deficiency. Ragi, being a potent source of various minerals and vitamins is a perfect substitute in this case.

 6. Safeguard Against Cancer

To reduce cancer prevalence, people switch to healthier food alternatives than processed options. Adding food alternatives to the dietary regimen that exhibit anti-cancerous properties reduces the frequency of spontaneous and chemically  induced tumours. Finger millet has phytochemicals and antioxidants, which have extensive anti-carcinogenic properties.


Ragi provides a multitude of health benefits. It has various functional and nutritional properties such as being anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory. It’s gluten-free and thus is suitable for people with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. The high fibre of ragi helps in efficient gastrointestinal functions while the complex carbs keep one satiated for longer and promote weight loss. It’s one of the best sources of calcium and thus keeps the bones healthy and strong. 

Ragi for Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder diagnosed with high blood sugar levels due to inadequate production of insulin or due to insulin resistance. Finger millet contains phenolic extracts, effective alpha-glucosidase and pancreatic amylase inhibitors. As a result, it helps manage high blood sugar. 

Studies have shown that finger millet-based food preparations show a lower glycaemic index, which induces a lower response. In addition, it shows that adding 30% of millet to multigrain flour significantly reduced plasma glucose levels. The significant decrease is related to dietary fibre-mediated delayed carbohydrate digestibility.

A study has shown that calcium and vitamin D intake concerning type-2 diabetes in women helped alleviate the risk. Finger millet has an abundance of calcium and magnesium, thus easing diabetes type-2 risk indirectly.

In addition, adding ragi to the diet regimen has been reported to delay the onset of cataractogenesis, which is a complication of diabetes.

The protein and lipid content interferes with starch digestion, which prolongs its digestion and takes a long time for glucose release. Therefore, the high fibre content of ragi may positively affect blood sugar levels.


Being rich in fibre, complex carbs and protein, ragi is highly beneficial for managing blood sugar levels. Furthermore, research has indicated that calcium deficiency increases the risk of diabetes and ragi being abundantly rich in calcium and magnesium decreases the risk of developing this metabolic disorder. 

The Best Ways to Consume Ragi for Diabetes

Individuals can eat ragi in various forms, such as flatbreads, pudding, porridge, and bakery products. Different preparation methods, such as soaking, germinating, steaming, roasting, and baking, are considered. It is made in powdered form to prepare cookies, ice cream, and other bakery products. One can use it with different grains in porridge or multigrain chapati.

Note: People with kidney disorders, thyroid disorders, and diarrhoea should avoid eating ragi. It negatively affects them and aggravates their conditions.

HealthifyMe Suggestion

Ragi is a millet that is a powerhouse of nutrients and can be safely consumed by diabetics keeping in mind that no one food alone will ever control or cure diabetes. Ragi can become a part of a healthy, well balanced diet so that it can aid in improving one’s overall health.


Ragi is a nutrient-dense crop with tremendous health benefits. Therefore, adding ragi with other staple crops can improve general health status. 

Ragi is beneficial for diabetic people because of its high nutrient density and fibre content. Furthermore, it can be consumed safely by diabetic people as it stabilises blood sugar levels and relieves the inflammation and oxidative stress associated with diabetes. 

It contains an extremely high amount of calcium making it ideal for bone development and strengthening in babies, growing kids, and aged individuals.

Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is just to disperse knowledge and raise awareness. It does not intend to replace medical advice from professionals. For further information please contact our certified nutritionists Here

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. How much ragi should a person with diabetes take daily?

A. 10-20 g of ragi can be consumed daily or on alternate days if the diabetic person has stable blood sugar levels. However, it is essential to understand how to eat ragi so that it won’t spike blood sugar levels in a diabetic patient. Soaking ragi for 12 hours, storing ragi moist for 24 hours, or steaming for an hour are the best ways to consume ragi.

Q. Does eating ragi increase blood sugar?

A. Even though ragi has a high glycemic index, the high fibre and complex carbohydrate content of ragi slows down the digestion process thereby causing a slower release of sugar into the bloodstream. Hence, it’s safe to say that ragi doesn’t cause blood sugar spikes. It is also important to note that if you consume ragi in combination with a good amount of fibre, healthy fat and protein you can control blood sugar spikes further.

Q. Who should not eat ragi?

A. People who suffer from thyroid disorders, diarrhoea, and kidney disorders such as kidney stones as it may aggravate their condition. 

Q. Which flour is best for diabetes?

A. Usually, flour with high fibre and complex carbohydrates is ideal for diabetes. Some flours considered best for diabetes include ragi flour, Bajra flour, amaranth flour, barley, and Jowar flour.

Q. Is ragi carbohydrate or protein?

A. Ragi, also known as finger millet, has 65-75% of carbohydrates and only 5-8% of protein.

Q. What happens if you eat ragi every day?

A. Ragi is known for its dense nutrients. Eating ragi every day enhances nerve impulse conduction, promotes a good mood, and treats insomnia and anxiety. Furthermore, it manages cholesterol levels and improves heart health. In addition, it is a rich source of iron and calcium, preventing anaemia and strengthening the bones. Keep in mind, all foods are beneficial when eaten in moderate amounts.

Q. What is the glycemic index of Ragi?

A. The GI score of ragi when it is dehusked, soaked for 12 hours, stored moist for 24 hours, and steamed for one hour is 68 while the GI score of ragi flour is 104. 

Q. Does ragi digest easily?

A. Yes, ragi is easily digestible because of its high fibre content, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. Due to its high fibre content, it keeps the stomach full for an extended period. 

Q. Can I eat ragi at night?

A. Yes, one can eat ragi at night. Ragi contains an essential amino acid named tryptophan which helps manage sleep disorders such as insomnia, anxiety, and depression. However, since it is fibre-rich food, it is necessary to remember that people with digestive problems should not consume it at night.

Reference Sources 

  1. Health benefits of dietary fiber: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19335713/
  2. Antioxidant Phenolics of Millet Control Lipid Peroxidation in Human LDL Cholesterol and Food Systems: https://aocs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1007/s11746-011-1918-5
  1. Glycemic response of rice, wheat and finger millet based diabetic food formulations in normoglycemic subjects: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17558728/
  1. Vitamin D and calcium intake in relation to type 2 diabetes in women: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16505521/

About the Author

A nutritionist by profession and a writer by passion, Sarah holds an MSc. in Clinical Nutrition & Dietetics from Symbiosis Institute of Health Sciences, Pune. She believes in changing lives, one meal at a time with a holistic approach towards overall healing. Her mission is to modify the nutritional habits and behaviors of our next generation to optimize their long-term health and reduce the likelihood of metabolic diseases. Apart from working, she loves to sing, swirl scribble and spread smiles.

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