What is Kodo Millet(Varagu)? Health and Nutritional Benefits

What is Kodo Millet?

Kodo millet or varagu is one of the ancient fast-growing plants that grow up to 1 to 2 meters in height. Due to its long and wide leaves, this plant looks like a shrub. Kodo millet was an excellent crop among farmers and during the famine due to its low fertility soil, high herbaceous, large productivity, and unique storage capacity of grains.

For its unique drought tolerance and nutritious profile, it has an essential place, among other millets. Its drought tolerance is mentioned in many ancient texts of India, such as the Brihat Samhita.

Overview Information

The botanical name of the Kodo millet is Paspalum scrobiculatum, which is mainly grown in India. You can also find this millet in Indonesia, West Africa, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. It comes in different colors, from light red to dark grey and high in fiber content. The exception of most of the Deccan Plateau in India grow kodo millet as a staple food.

In some parts of India, Kodo millet is the famous fast or upvas food. Especially in south India, Kodo millet is used as a staple food. Millet is superior to rice undoubtedly, gluten-free and rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It has excellent potential to provide nutritious food to farmers living in Africa and elsewhere.

Plant Description

Kodo Millet is a perennial grass that can grow up to 150 cm tall. The plant usually occurs during seasonal floods and wet recessions, often associated with cultivation and settlements, such as roadsides, ditches, and wasteland and paddy fields.

It can adapt with very poor to very fertile different soils and also can tolerate a certain level of alkalinity. The best soils are silt, clay, and sandy soils with good drainage.

Kodo millet can be grown in mountainous gravel and rocky soils. The plant has a shallow root system that is suitable for intercropping. Stems are very stout, or less branched, glabrous, or with long thin hairs.

The blades of this plant are 15-40 cm long, 5-12 mm wide, pale green. The leaf sheaths and leaves are hairy. Flowers are unisexual, sessile, and come with 2-3 mm long with five micronate tabs; Male flowers with five pollen c. 1 mm long; Female flowers high, 1-celled uterus crowned by three spots.

These millet seeds are covered with a dense husk, are small and about 2 mm long and 1 mm wide. They vary in color from pale red to gray to elliptical in shape and germinate 5-7 days after sowing.

Nutritional Benefits of Varagu (Kodo Millet)

Kodo millet offers more dietary nutritional content to you. Moreover, it can perfectly balance your diet. It is rich in protein (11 percent), has 4.2 percent low fat, carbohydrates 65 grams, fiber 5.2 g, folic acid 23.1 g. Moreover, it contains vitamins and minerals that include Vitamin B, B6, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and zinc.

Kodo Millet contains antioxidant polyphenols, an antioxidant compound, tannins, phosphorus, and phytic acids. When compared to the other millet and large grains, it has a high antioxidant capacity. Kodo millet has low phosphorus content compared to other millets.

It is the best alternative for rice or wheat. It has more protein, fiber and minerals than staple grains like rice. You can cook like rice or ground flour. This millet contains significant amounts of essential amino acids such as lysine, threonine and valine.

Health Benefits of Kodo Millet

Kodo Millet is easy to digest; Unlike glazed white rice, it gives balanced nutrition. It is rich in lecithin which offers excellent strength to the nervous system. It is rich in phytochemicals, phytate, which helps reduce the risk of cancer.

It helps to lose weight and is beneficial for postmenopausal women. It is good for people suffering from heart diseases such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.

Furthermore, it is suitable for diabetics, and anti-diabetic compounds such as quercetin, ferulic acid, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, vanillic acid, and syringic acid from the body prevent obesity. Kodo millets are gluten-free and good for gluten intolerant people.

Let’s take an in-depth look into the health benefits of Kodo millet.

1. Has Anti-diabetic Source

Kodo millets have been a staple food in India since ancient times, and they have significant health benefits. Recently, they have gained a reputation as a food expert to decrease diabetes and its difficulties.

Consuming Kodo millet can lower the blood glucose levels fastly and supports a significant improvement in serum insulin levels. The anti-diabetic composites in Kodo are quercetin, ferulic acid, b-hydroxybenzoic acid, vanillic acid, and syringic acid. It is the most recommended millet for those who have diabetes.

Millet significantly lowers the level of glycated hemoglobin and improves the glucose polymer called liver glycogen, helping the body by giving energy immediately when the glucose levels are low.

2. Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Properties

Kodo millet comes with polyphenols and antioxidants properties. Polyphenols have an antimicrobial activity that can fight against certain bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus, Lugonostag mesenteroids, Bacillus cereus, and Enterococcus faecalis).

When Kodo millet whole grains, skimmed grains, and hull were tested to know their antioxidant property, Kodo millet phenolic extracts revealed a significant inhibitory activity regarding LDL fat and liposomes oxidation. These grains have been shown to inhibit intense induced DNA cleavage in a dose-dependent manner.

The study found that the antioxidant property was over the whole grains and that dehydrated grains were lower when examined.

3. Helps to Reduce Obesity

Generally, Kodo millet is rich in fiber content, so that it can prevent you from gaining weight. In addition, this millet can prevent cholesterol and triglyceride from raising your weight and supporting weight loss.

There is no doubt that millet is a healthy choice for weight management. In particular, millet like Kodo are well known for controlling obesity and its complications. This millet would be an excellent alternative source for rice and wheat.

One study shows that Kodo millet has a protective function that can fight against complications caused by reduced glucose intolerance, intestinal beneficial bacterial dysbiosis, and increased serum lipids. Says that these millets can be combined as an ingredient for obesity management.

In another study of obese adolescent women with metabolic syndrome, these millets showed a positive effect on obesity by significantly reducing body fat, average weight, and waist-to-hip ratio.

4. Anti-cholesterol and Anti-hypertension

It is one of the best remedies for postmenopausal women who suffer from signs of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. By consuming Kodo millet every day can reduce the risk of heart-related problems.

Moreover, consuming Kodo millet can decrease the triglycerides and C-reactive protein that reduce the bad cholesterol level, and it is suitable for your heart health.

5. Has High Free Radical Scavenging Property

Free radicals can cause major damage if the body does not resist cells and tissues. Kodo millet is a rich source of antioxidants that can help decrease free radicals.

One study revealed the potential free radical mitigation activity on Kodo millet DPPH, which is a widely used chemical compound, widely used to evaluate free radical scavenging potential.

This white millet variety showed mitigation of 70% DPPH by 15-53% compared to other millets used in the study.

6. Wound Healing Properties

Studies to determine the effect of Kodo millet on wound healing have shown that these grains accelerate the wound healing process.

The wound was healed by applying Kodo millet dough every day on the cut wound on the rats for 16 days. Kodo millet showed a shrinkage rate of 88-90% compared to untreated mice, which showed 75%. 14 days needed for complete wound closure when using Kodo millet.

Traditional Benefits and Uses of Kodo Millet (Varagu)

Intaking varagu every day is helpful for postmenopausal women who suffer from heart disease symptoms such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Kodo millet helps to hydrate your colon that maintains your system every day and is constipated.

It is rich in lecithin that gives excellent strengthening to the nervous system. It can digest quickly.

The regular intake of Kodo millet can help to reduce your weight.

Furthermore, its anti-diabetic compounds such as quercetin, ferulic acid, B-hydroxybenzoic acid, vanillic acid, and syringic acid from the body prevent obesity so that it is great for diabetic patients.

Kodo millets are gluten-free that are good for gluten intolerant people.

Unprocessed or processed grains can be cooked whole and ground by traditional or industrial methods if necessary.

Traditionally grains of Kodo millets have been used to manage diabetes.

Cereals are also effective in treating inflammation, bleeding, and general deficiency.

Culinary Uses of Kodo Millet (Varagu)

In India, you can find the Kodo millet in several traditional and novel foods.

Kodo millet can be used as a flour form in many tasty dishes.

You can mix Kodo millet with other grains, cereal, and legume flour that increase the nutritional value, function, and flavor.

In tribal fields, it is cooked into the rice, and various dishes are made with flour.

It is essential as a gluten-free diet and is a component of multigrain gluten-free food products.

You can make varagu idli, varagu dosa, varagu chapatti, varagu Upma, varagu Pongal, varagu Puttu, varagu Idiyappam, varagu Kozhukattai, varagu Vada, varagu sweet Poli, varagu biscuits, varagu soup, varagu Adai, varagu Payasam, varagu Cutlet, varagu Bread, varagu Cookie, and varagu Ladoo, etc.

Grind the Kodo millet into the flour form; then, you can use it to prepare murukkus, Adirasams, Vadagam, and Pakoda.

Make your breakfast more special and healthy with Kodo millet.

Kodo millet is used as an alternative for rice in India and Africa. Moreover, most of the Indian people used this varagu for their breakfast.

They are ground into the dough and used to make pudding and porridge. Varagu is also used in the preparation of various snacks.

In Africa, Kodo millet is eaten as a famine, and also, they cooked it like rice.

Kodo Millet Pulao


  • Kodo Millet – 1 cup
  • Water – 1 & 1/2 cups
  • Chopped Carrot, beans, green peas – 1 cup
  • Onion – 1
  • Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp
  • Green chili – 2
  • Mint leaves – 12
  • Salt – As per your requirement
  • Mint leaves – 12
  • Ghee or oil – 3 tbsp
  • Cinnamon – 1 piece
  • Fennel seeds – 1 tsp
  • Bay leaf – 1

Processing Method

1. Take the small cooker, put oil or ghee, and heat it.

2. keep in medium flame, then add cinnamon, fennel, bay leaf.

3. Don’t wait until the fennel changes its color.

4. Put onion, and ginger garlic paste then stir.

5. Keep the flame in the medium for a minute.

6. After that, put chopped vegetables, mint leaves. Hold the flame on a medium level for up to 2 minutes. And add a pinch of salt as per your requirements.

7. Wash the Millet and drain it then add it to the cooker. Stir and let it dry.

8. Keep the flame at medium until the end of cooking.

9. Add some water, salt to boil the mix. Stir well and cook for one whistle at the medium flame or cook for up to 12 mins.

10. It’s time to eat the healthy and natural kodo millet pulao.

Nutritional Values of Kodo Millet

100 grams of kodo millet contains approximately,

Total Fat2 g
Carbohydrates41 g
Protein0.7 g
Dietary fiber2 g
Manganese0.3 mg
Calcium3 mg
Iron0.6 mg
Magnesium44 mg
Copper0.2 mg
Vitamin C1.5 mg
Selenium0.9 mg
Zinc0.9 mg
Phosphorus100 mg

Safety Precaution

Kodo millets are used as staple food worldwide, they change into poisonous if infected with fungal species such as Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus tamari. These fungi produce a toxin called cyclopiazonic acid that can cause Kodua poisoning.

It may lead to nausea, vomiting, depression, disturbances in mental abilities, and even dizziness.

Studies are conducted on mice with injections of cyclopiazonic acid, which showed severe hepatotoxicity, depression, and complete loss of mobility.

Therefore, it is essential to avoid contaminated Kodo millet grains, which can lead to serious health problems.

Other Facts

In South America and Hawaii, it is regarded as a harmful weed.

It can be used as grass ties in mountainous areas to stop soil erosion while giving famine food as a secondary purpose.

It has been mentioned that it makes a great cover crop.

Kodo millet is one of the best nutritious grains and an excellent alternative to rice or wheat.

Not only for a human being, but it is also an excellent choice of animal feed for cattle, sheep, pigs, sheep, and poultry.

The Kodo millet is rich in nutrition and fiber content so that you can give it to your children. It helps to make your children more energetic and healthy.

Moreover, it helps to hydrate your colon that keeps your system steady and constipated.

Digestion friendly and has rich antioxidant activity.

As it is high in phytic acid, photochemical, that can decrease the risk of cancer. Moreover, it can balance your blood sugar level and cholesterol level.

If you are an athlete, then the Kodo millet is one of the best energy sources for you.

When you can combine it with legumes, you can get the complete protein source.

The Millet calms the mood of serotonin.

In addition, it can work as prebiotic feeding microflora in your internal ecosystem.

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