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Indian breads, Rotis- Nutritional  values

Main Article Page | General Topics | health


Indian breads or rotis pack in plenty of tasty nutrition. Here we tell you about the nutritional values of different kinds.

No Indian meal is complete without Indianstyle bread or roti. While some of us are more inclined towards rice, roti is the healthier option, as we know. Made on the stove or in a clay oven, a variety of moon- shaped breads are eaten with vegetables, lentils or meat dishes. While all of us are habitual to the wheat variety, several other cereals and millets are used throughout the country to make rotis. From barley and millets to Bengal gram and chickpea flour, the range is extensive and healthy, even though it may be unfamiliar.

The good news, however, is that more people are becoming conscious of nutrition and healthy food options and rotis are very much a part of their menus. Here we tell you about the nutritional values of these breads.


MILLETS are small- seeded variety of cereal crops. High in insoluble fiber, iron and calcium, millets also pack in plenty of minerals and vitamins. The insoluble fiber from millets is known to help prevent gallstones from developing.


ROTI made from ragi or finger millet is one of the best options for the health conscious. In India, it is mostly grown and consumed in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Ragi flour is made into flatbreads, including thick, leavened dosa and thinner, unleavened roti. Ragi grain is malted and flour from the malted grain is consumed after mixing with milk, boiled water or yoghurt. The average protein content of ragi is 9.8 per cent with well balanced essential amino acids composition along with Vitamin A, Vitamin B and phosphorous.

It also contains high amount of calcium. This makes ragibased processed food products like malt, biscuits and cakes more suited for the growing children, expectant mothers and elderly who need more calcium and iron in their diet. Ragi is also considered an ideal food for diabetics because of slow release of sugars to the body. Its high fiber content also checks constipation, high blood cholesterol and intestinal cancer. In Karnataka, ragi flour is boiled in water and the resultant preparation is eaten with sambar or mutton curry.

Ideal for: Growing children, expectant mothers and elderly Rich in (per 100gm): Calcium-344 mg, Fiber-3.6 g


A must in Rajasthani cuisine, pearl millet or Bajra roti is particularly noted for its high iron content. It is also known to possess phytochemicals that lower cholesterol, folate, magnesium, copper, zinc, and vitamins E and B- complex. It packs an additional punch since it contains all 13 essential amino acids. Known the world over as bird food, bajra is usually grown in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana because it can adapt well to drought, low soil fertility, and high temperature. "Bajra is good for bones and has higher energy content than other flours. It is also rich in calcium and unsaturated fats which are good for the body," says Dr Sushma Sharma, consultant, Nutrition Foundation of India.

However, it's better not to have bajra in summer. "Bajra roti is better eaten in winter because it's heavy on the body and can cause digestive problems," says Dr Geetika Ahluwalia, chief dietician, Delhi Lung and Heart Institute. While millets have a very high nutritional value, their storage life is short.

Ideal for: Anaemics Rich in (per 100g): Iron-50mg, Vitamin A-132 mg, Minerals-2.3g, Protein-11.6 g.


MAKKI (MAIZE OR CORN) - Corn or Makki roti is a very popular dish in northern parts of India, especially Punjab. Served with butter and a spinach dish called sarson ka saag or stuffed with radish and fenugreek (methi) leaves, this bread is a good source of many nutrients including vitamin B1, B5, dietary fiber, vitamin C, phosphorus and manganese.

Corn is also high in beta carotene or vitamin A which gives it the yellow colour. Corn's contribution to heart health lies not just in its fiber, but in the significant amounts of folate that it supplies. Folate is needed to prevent birth defects and lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid which can damage blood vessels. Folate-rich diets are also associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer.

Corn is gluten free which makes it a good option for those allergic to wheat. However, lack of gluten is also the reason why it's difficult to make the makki dough. "Corn has a protein by the name of zeil which is of lower biological value than gluten. It's easier to digest wheat because of the presence of gluten," says Dr Sharma.

Ideal for: Heart patients Rich in (per 100 g): Vitamin A- 90 mg, Fiber- 2.7 g, Protein- 11.1 g


BARLEY - is a cereal with a nutlike flavour. Barley nutrients include beta-glucan content, a form of soluble fiber which lowers cholesterol. Eating barley rotis, at least six times each week is a good idea, especially for postmenopausal women with high cholesterol, high blood pressure or other signs of cardiovascular disease. It is also believed that a diet rich in barley reduces the risk of some forms of cancer because of the presence of phytonutrients.

"Being a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that acts as a co-factor for more than 300 enzymes, barley helps in preventing the onset of adult diabetes. For those wanting to lose weight, it is ideal that they include barley in at least one of their meals," says Ekta Tandon, dietician with

Ideal for: Postmenopausal women, BP patients Rich in ( per 100g): Fiber- 3.9g, Protein: 11.5g


JOWARor sorghum is a cereal consumed in the states of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Haryana. It is also available on supermart shelves in many easyto- use formulae that can pack a punch into your meals in a jiffy. It is rich in potassium and phosphorus and also has good amount of calcium with small amounts of iron and sodium.

"Adding sorghum regularly in the meals of pregnant woman help them attain requirements for minerals and vitamins in their diet. It also maintains the health of heart, controls arthritis and body weight," says Tandon.

Ideal for: Pregnant women Rich in (per 100g): Calcium-25 mg


FLOURS BENGAL gram and chickpeas are favourite choices for those keen to build muscles because of their high protein content. While 17.1 gram protein is contained in 100 gm of Bengal gram flour, Chickpea flour (besan) has 20.8 gram protein per 100 gm. These flours are increasingly being used to make Missi roti which is one of the traditional Indian breads that is eaten in Gujarat typically but is gaining popularity in other parts of India too. Bengal gram has many medicinal properties with plenty of B-complex and other vitamins. It is recommended for diabetics as it enhances the utilisation of glucose in the body.

Both Bengal gram and chickpeas are rich sources of iron and are therefore highly beneficial in the treatment of iron - deficiency anaemia. However, besan is low on fiber content and is known to cause flatulence. So go slow.

Ideal for: Diabetics, anaemics Rich in (per 100g): Protein- 17.1- 20.8 g, Iron-9.1- 10.2 mg


THE rule of the thumb to get the healthiest roti is combining the flours. It's ideal to mix various flours with wheat to get the best of all. "Eating only a particular kind of flour can cause deficiencies of specific nutrients. Don't ignore wheat if you are not allergic to it because it is high in folic acid and is also easier to digest than other flours. Refining of the whole wheat grain drains out most of the nutrients and hence mixing other flours can make it more wholesome," says Dr Sharma.


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