Foxtail Millet: What is it, Nutrition, Benefits, Uses, Side Effects & More

Reviewed By Experts

foxtail millet - livayur

Foxtail millet, scientifically known as Setaria italica, is one of the oldest cultivated grains in the world, dating back to ancient times. It is a small-seeded grain and belongs to the family Poaceae. Foxtail millet is a staple food crop in many parts of Asia and Africa, especially in India, China, and Nigeria. [1] It is known as Trundhanya [5] or Kanguni in Ayurvedic science and used as food as well as a therapeutic diet in Ayurveda since samhita kala. It has several therapeutic uses including Kustha Vatakarak, Pitta-daha nashak, Bhagna-asthi Sandhan. [4] 

It has gained popularity globally in recent years due to its impressive nutritional profile and various health benefits. This article delves into what is foxtail millet, the characteristics of foxtail millet, its nutritional content, health benefits, culinary uses, and potential side effects.

Nutritional Content of Foxtail Millet

Foxtail millet is a nutrient-dense grain, packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. The foxtail millet nutrition content of 100 grams of raw foxtail millet is as follows:

Calories348 kcal
Starch58.2 g
Protein12.3 g
Fat3.3 g
Fiber13.6 g
Ash3.7 g
Calcium53 mg
Iron4.2 mg
Zinc2.6 mg


Health Benefits of Foxtail Millet

Rich Source of Nutrients

Foxtail millet is a vital source of essential nutrients, such as protein, dietary fiber, digestible starch, and minerals (calcium, iron, and zinc). Including foxtail millet in the diet can help meet daily nutrient requirements. [2]

Weight Management

The native resistant starch content of foxtail millet helps promote satiety and reduces hunger, which can aid in weight management and is one of the biggest foxtail millet benefits. [1]

Diabetes Management

foxtail millet benefits - diabetes management:

Foxtail millet glycemic index is low, meaning it causes a slower rise in blood sugar levels compared to other carbohydrate-rich foods. This property makes it suitable for diabetics as it helps in managing blood sugar levels. [3]

Digestive Health: 

The dietary fiber in Foxtail millet supports healthy digestion and prevents constipation by promoting regular bowel movements. [1] According to Ayurveda, it enhances Vata Dosha and balances Pitta and Kapha Dosha. These millets have been mentioned in Ayurvedic texts, specifically in the Nighantu Adarsha, where they are referred to as “Munidhanya.” Rishis and Munis consumed these millets because of their high nutritional value and ease of digestion. [5]

Heart Health

Foxtail millet contains essential nutrients, which are vital for keeping the serum cholesterol, and serum triglyceride in check, thereby lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases and maintaining a strong and healthy heart. [1]

Antioxidant Properties

The presence of various antioxidants in Foxtail millet helps combat oxidative stress and protects cells from damage caused by free radicals. [3]

Culinary Uses of Foxtail Millet

Due to Foxtail millet’s versatility, it can be incorporated into various dishes. Here are some popular culinary uses:


porridge - foxtail millet uses

Foxtail millet can be cooked as a porridge, similar to oatmeal, and served with milk or plant-based alternatives and sweeteners like honey or maple syrup. 


Foxtail millet flour can be used in foxtail millet recipes and gluten-free baking to make rusk and cookies.

Breakfast cereals

In many Indian cuisines, foxtail millet is sometimes used to prepare vegetable dalia (porridge), snack foods – sattu (traditional drink), bar, and papad. [2]

Rice Replacement

Cooked Foxtail millet can be used as a rice substitute as it possesses twice the amount of protein compared to rice, providing a diverse range of nutrients and a delightful nutty taste. Moreover, it is highly digestible and non-allergenic, making it a favorable grain option. It is also a good source of essential minerals such as copper and iron. [5]


What are the potential side effects and precautions one must adopt with foxtail millets?

Foxtail millet is generally safe for consumption for most people. However, some considerations should be kept in mind:
Goitrogenic Effects: Foxtail millet contains goitrogens, substances that can interfere with thyroid functioning by blocking the uptake of iodine. People with thyroid disorders may want to moderate their intake of foxtail millet.
Allergies: Although rare, some individuals may be allergic to millet. Allergic reactions may be mild or severe, including symptoms like itching, hives, and difficulty breathing. If allergic reactions occur, medical attention should be sought immediately.
Phytic Acid: Like other grains, foxtail millet plant contains phytic acid, which can lead to reduced absorption of certain minerals. To enhance mineral absorption, soaking or sprouting millet before cooking can be beneficial.

Who should refrain from consuming foxtail millets?

Individuals with certain conditions should exercise caution when consuming foxtail millet. While eating foxtail millet in moderate amounts is generally acceptable, specific precautions should be taken in the following situations: Foxtail millet may exacerbate Vataja roga (diseases caused by Vata Dosha imbalance), so those with symptoms such as dry skin, weight loss, or joint pain should be careful when consuming it.

What is foxtail millet in Hindi?

Foxtail millet is called Kangni or Kakum in Hindi.


Foxtail millet is a highly nutritious grain that offers numerous health benefits. Its gluten-free nature makes it suitable for individuals with gluten sensitivity, while its low glycemic index makes it a favorable option for diabetics. With its rich nutrient profile, foxtail millet can be a healthy and nutrients-loaded addition to a balanced diet, contributing to heart health, weight management, and digestive well-being. 


This article is written from a health and wellness perspective only and is not a piece of medical advice. Kindly seek the help of a certified medical practitioner before initiating any treatment. 


  1. Foxtail millet: Properties, processing, health benefits, and uses
  2. Assessment of sensory and nutritional attributes of foxtail millet-based food products
  3. Assessment of sensory and nutritional attributes of foxtail millet-based food products
  4. Millets: The Indigenous Food Grains


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here