BASIC FOUR FOOD GROUPS AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE
Food groups have been classified accord-ing to various methods from time to time. ICMR (2011) has classified the different foods items into four food groups as listed in Table 1. They are
· Cereal, millets and pulses
· Milk, and animal products
· Fruits and vegetables
· Fats, oils and nuts
The four food group system can be used for the following purposes:
i. Planning wholesome balanced menus to achieve nutritional ade-quacy.
ii. Assessing nutritional status – a brief diet history of an individual can disclose inadequacies of food and nutrients from any of the four groups.
Based on the assessment, nutrition educa-tion can be imparted to the individual.
The quantity of the meals can be improved or is said to be optimum when the diets are complete. Every meal should have foods providing energy, protein, vitamins and minerals fibre and adequate amount of water.
Millets are small – seeded grasses that are hard and grow well in dry zones as rain-fed crops under marginal conditions of soil fertility and moisture. Millets are one of the oldest foods known to humans and possibly the first cereal grains to be used for domestic purposes. They are highly nutritious, gluten free. Hence they are soothing and easy to digest. They are con-sidered to be the least allergic and most digestible grains available. Compared to rice, polished rice, millets release lesser percentage of glucose and over a longer period of time this lowers the risk of diabetes.
Millets are particularly high in minerals like iron, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium, finger millet (ragi) is richest in calcium content.
Kinds of millets:
1. Barnyard Millet – Kuthiravali
2. Finger Millet – Ragi
3. Foxtail Millet – Thinai
4. Kodo Millet – Varagu
5. Little Millet – Samai
6. Pearl Millet – Kambu
7. Proso Millet – Panivaragu
8. Sorghum – Cholam
· Millets can be incorporated in our daily diet for almost all the meals and dishes. Breakfast items like porridge, dosa, idli, uppuma, puttu,ragi kali,-doughnuts, vadas, bonda, chapathis, pooris etc are some of the commonly prepared items.
· Main meal items like ragi kali is highly nutritious.
· Millets can also lend themselves to the baking of cakes and biscuits as a 20% to 50% level of the cereal flour is being used and therefore enhance the nutri-tive value of the product. The nutritional content of millets is given in Table 2.