Millet is a whole-grain carbohydrate with plenty of fiber, which can be beneficial if you have diabetes.

As a result, the body can’t properly process foods for energy. If left untreated, this can increase your blood glucose, or blood sugar, level and lead to dangerous complications.

Since diabetes affects blood sugar, there’s a belief that people with diabetes can’t eat sugar or carbohydrates like millet.

But while it’s true that people living with diabetes may have to be more aware of their carb intake to manage their blood sugar, fiber-rich carbohydrates (particularly complex carbs) can also help manage diabetes symptoms.

Millet and other whole-grain carbohydrates contain fiber, minerals, and vitamins. You may wish to include these in your diet if you have diabetes.

Here’s a look at why millet is suitable for people with diabetes and tips for eating healthy with this condition.

The short answer is yes.

Millet is a group of small-seeded grains resembling tiny pearls. Some people haven’t heard of millet in the United States, yet it’s a staple in many parts of the world. It’s a common ingredient in Indian and African dishes.

The different types of millet include:

  • pearl
  • foxtail
  • finger
  • little
  • jowar
  • kodo

Millet is a whole grain. Many people consider it a fiber-rich carb, so it’s easily digestible. And since it’s also gluten-free, it’s a great alternative for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Additionally, millet has a high nutritional value.

Nutritional content

A cup of millet has about:

  • 6.11 grams (g) of protein
  • 2.26 g of fiber
  • 76.6 milligrams (mg) of magnesium
  • 108 mg of potassium

Although anyone can reap the nutritional benefits of eating millet, it’s especially beneficial for diabetes management, making it one of the better whole grains for managing blood sugar.

Millet is suitable for people with diabetes due to its high fiber content. Fiber helps slow digestion. As a result, sugar enters the bloodstream slowly, lessening the risk of a blood sugar spike.

Research supports the idea that millet is good for diabetes management. A 2021 study found that millets can help reduce the risk of developing diabetes and eating them long term lowered blood glucose levels.

There was also a significant reduction in hemoglobin A1c levels among people with prediabetes. A1C is a measurement of your average blood sugar level over 3 months.

People living with diabetes also need to be familiar with the glycemic index (GI) and know the GI value of the foods they eat.

The glycemic index ranks carbohydrates by how fast they increase blood sugar levels. Your body digests foods with a lower GI value more slowly and raises blood sugar more slowly.

Foods with a higher GI value digest faster and raise blood sugar quickly.

The GI scale rates foods from 0 to 100.

Many types of millet have a low to medium GI value, so you can eat them more often without affecting blood sugar too much.

Remember, though, that the GI value of millet varies depending on the type. For this reason, some types of millet are better than others if you have diabetes.

Foxtail, little, finger, and pearl millet have a GI value ranging from 54 to 68. Jowar millet, however, has a GI value of 70, so it might have fewer benefits than the others.

It’s also important to know where other whole grains fall on the GI scale since you might also want to incorporate these foods into your diet.

Whole grains with a low GI (55 or less) include:

Whole grains with a medium GI (56 to 69) include:

Whole grains with a high GI (70 or more) include:

The key to blood sugar management is eating foods that help you manage your sugar levels. This applies not only to people living with diabetes but to everyone.

The goal of diabetes management is to keep your blood sugar at an optimum level, as well as manage your blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight. Taking these measures can help prevent diabetes complications, such as:

It’s important to eat a nutritious, balanced diabetes-friendly diet of:

Foods to incorporate into your weekly menu can include leafy greens, fruits, whole grains, low fat dairy, and lean meats.

Other tips for healthy living

When using oil to prepare meals, choose heart-healthy fats, such as:

Also, watch your portion sizes. Serve meals on smaller plates, and rather than eat three heavy meals a day, eat five to six smaller meals.

Keep a close eye on your sugar and sodium intake, too. Experiment with cooking with more herbs and less salt. Limit beverages with added sugar. Drink more water, and use sugar substitutes when possible.

Along with a nutritious, balanced diet, try incorporating physical activity into your day, at least 30 minutes for heart health and maintaining weight. Go for a walk, ride your bike, or get a gym membership.

If you’ve never prepared millet, here are a few simple, healthy recipes to add variety to your plate:

Some people with diabetes can effectively manage their blood sugar with diet, exercise, and medication.

But if you continue to experience blood sugar spikes, talk with a doctor about adjusting your medication. Request a referral to see a diabetes dietitian or a diabetes educator.

This is especially important if you don’t know what foods to eat or avoid. These professionals can help create a diabetes-friendly meal plan that allows you to manage your blood sugar better — all while reducing your risk for heart-related complications.

Here are some frequently asked questions about millet and diabetes.

Which millet is best for diabetes?

There are many different types of millet, and one older 2012 study found that foxtail millet may help control blood glucose.

Does millet raise blood sugar?

Millet releases less glucose into the blood over time, which can help prevent diabetes.

Which grain is best for those with diabetes?

According to Diabetes UK, the best grains for those with diabetes include millet, oats, corn, barley, and buckwheat.

Is millet better than oats for diabetes?

Both grains are beneficial for those with diabetes as sources of dietary fiber.

Whether you have just received a diagnosis of diabetes or you’ve been living with the condition for years, eating the right foods can be challenging at times. One thing to remember is that fiber-rich carbohydrates play an essential role in a nutritious, balanced diet.

So, if you haven’t already, explore recipes incorporating millet and make this whole grain a regular addition to your weekly menu.