Grains are an inseparable part of our diet. Every Indian household has grains like oatmeal, wheat, rice, etc. because of its nutritional value. These grains are great sources of macronutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, and fats that are necessary for meeting certain nutritional requirements of your body. Whole grains like these also make great first food for babies. To keep up with the growth of babies, you need foods that can provide adequate nutrition and support their growth and development.
Apart from the other grains, ragi is one such food that offers various nutrients for your child’ nutrition. It is known as ragi in Karnataka, Kerala and Telangana, nachni in Maharashtra and has regional names in different languages. Because of its high nutritional value, many doctors recommend ragi for infants as their first food. We list out some of the health benefits of ragi for infants:
Ragi- A Rich Source of Protein
Ragi is an excellent source of protein with every 100 gms providing 7.7 gms of proteins. Proteins and amino acids are building blocks of our bodies. These are important to maintain growth and development during childhood by regulating cell and tissue growth, energy generation, immunity etc. It also supports muscle formation in your little one.
Ragi – Rich in Fibre that Aids Digestion
Ragi is loaded with dietary fibre. Fibre is an essential nutrient for digestion and a healthy gut. The fibre content in ragi helps fill your baby’s tummy and assists with digestion. Thus, helps in regular bowel movements during constipation.
Ragi – A Gluten Free Grain
You want to choose foods that are least allergic. Ragi is gluten-free, which makes it suitable for those suffering from gluten allergy and lactose intolerance. Some babies may be allergic to protein gluten – which is present in grains like wheat and barley. Many babies also suffer from lactose intolerance, because of which they cannot have milk and milk products. Ragi makes a great alternative to provide nutrition in such challenging situations.
Apart from the macronutrient content, ragi also contains various micronutrients like iron, calcium and zinc that makes it a nutritious food for your baby. Also, ragi, when fortified, provides better bioavailability of the nutrients and it benefits your baby’s growth and development.
The Need for Ragi Fortification
Food fortification or enrichment is the process of adding micronutrients (essential trace elements and vitamins) to food to improve the bioavailability of nutrients which prevents the risk of multi-micronutrient deficiencies. Especially, in products of ragi for infants, fortification or the addition of micronutrients is necessary for nutrient bioavailability and bio-accessibility. It is important that your baby’s food contains all the essential nutrients. The small amount of food you prepare should be rich in its nutritional value. A combination of breastfeeding, homemade foods and fortified ragi baby cereal may help cater to all your baby’s nutritional requirement.