Foxtail millet-Setaria italica

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Foxtail millet Quick Facts
Name: Foxtail millet
Scientific Name: Setaria italica
Origin Foxtail millet was first naturalized in China.
Colors Light yellow-brown, rusty or black (Seed)
Shapes Convex oval or elliptical (Seed)
Calories 351 Kcal./cup
Major nutrients Isoleucine (48026.32%)
Leucine (47727.27%)
Tryptophan (23409.09%)
Threonine (18636.36%)
Lysine (6967.70%)
Health benefits Proper function of cardiac, Alzheimer's disease, Enhance memory, Antioxidant, Cures muscle weakness
More facts about Foxtail millet
Setaria italic with many common names including Chinese Millet, Foxtail Bristle Grass, Dwarf Setaria, Foxtail Millet, Hay Millet, German Millet, Giant Setaria Hungarian Millet, Japanese Millet, Italian Millet, Red Rala, Liberty Millet and Hungarian millet is a grass species which is used as a crop. Foxtail millet is adapted to well-drained soils. Foxtail millet is an annual grass whose plants reach an average height of 60-150 cm. The seeds are convex oval or elliptical and light yellow to brown, rusty or black in color. It is known as Bertia in Hindi; Panico Degli Uccelli in Italian; Awa in Japanese; Sekui in Malaysia; Pabbio Coltivato in Switzerland; dzo in Korean; Morap in Russian and Mijo De Italia in Spanish.


Foxtail millet was first naturalized in China. The evidence shows the domestication of Foxtail millet in the Middle East and Europe which dates about 4000 years BP. The phylogenetic analyses show the green millet and foxtail millet is associated and the Foxtail millet is naturalized derivative of the green millet. Currently, Foxtail millet is sophisticated in Europe, America, Asia, Africa and Australia.

The evidence (early) shows that it was cultivated in China by Peiligang culture. Though the common millet was also cultivated, Foxtail millet becomes prevalent in the Yangshao culture.  About 600 BC, it was cultivated in the Iron Age at Near East.


It is an annual grass with erect and robust culms. It grows upto the height of 60-150 cm. Leaves are 20-40 cm long and 1.5-3 centimeters wide with lanceolate shape. Leaf sheaths are small, glabrous or pubescent and 1-3 mm. Leaf lamina is dense, erect or pendent, lobed and 6-40 × 0.5-5 cm. It has elliptic, ovate or subglobose spikelets of 2-3 mm.

Nutritional value

100 grams of Foxtail millet contains 12 g of moisture, 351 calories, 11.2 g of protein, 4 g of total fat, 63.2 g of carbohydrate and 6.7 g of crude fiber. It grants 803 g of isoleucine, 1764 g of leucine, 103 g of tryptophan, 328 g of threonine, 233 g of lysine, 0.6 mg of thiamin, 63.2 g of carbohydrate, 2.8 mg of iron, 11.2 mg of protein, 3.2 mg of niacin, 4 g of lipid fat, 0.1 mg of riboflavin and 31 mg of calcium.

Health Benefits of Foxtail millet

Foxtail millets are rich in calories that provide energy and strength to the body to perform activities. It is widely cultivated in India, Africa and China. It is considered as the perfect substitute for the healthy diets.

  1. Proper function of cardiac

Vitamin B1 assists in the formation of neurotransmitter acetylcholine which helps to transfer the message between muscle and nerves. It also safeguards the functions of cardiac. The deficiency of Vitamin B1 leads to improper functions of cardiac. The patients of congestive heart failure finds Vitamin B1 helpful and prevents heart ailments.

  1. Alzheimer’s disease

Vitamin B1 slows the development of Alzheimer’s disease. It could be treated with an intake of 100 mg supplements of Vitamin B1. The trial studies are still carried out for the determination of the mechanism due to which it occurs.

  1. Enhance memory

Vitamin B1 helps to enhance the concentration and memory power. It helps to manage the nervous ailments such as Bell’s palsy and multiple sclerosis. It is also called morale vitamin which provides a positive impact on nervous system and supports mental perspective.

  1. Antioxidant

Vitamin B1 acts as an antioxidant which slows down the process of age spots, wrinkles and other age related problems that has negative effect on the organs.

  1. Cures muscle weakness

Iron is essential for the maintenance of the health of muscles. It is found in the muscle tissues and transports oxygen which is essential for the muscle contraction. The deficiency of iron leads the muscle to lose the elasticity and tone and may cause anemia. (1)

  1. Brain health

Iron assists in the brain development. It supplies oxygen to the brain, as it uses about 20% of blood oxygen. Iron is directly associated with the brain functions. The adequate amount of blood if received by the brain helps to promote the cognition and prevents Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Due to this the adequate amount of iron is essential for the brain oxygenation. (2)

  1. Restless leg syndrome

The deficiency of iron in the body is the cause for the restless leg syndrome. The low presence of iron in the blood is the cause for this. The high intake of supplements of iron in adequate amounts helps to cure this condition. It is associated with muscle spasms which is the symptoms of deficiency of iron. (3)

  1. Nerve signals

Protein helps in the functions of nervous system smoothly. The activation of nervous system triggers the response of relevant reactions. The receptor sites consist of protein complex  which helps to transfer the nerve signals to the cells and manage the central nervous system. (4)

  1. Hair health

Protein is essential for the maintenance of hair health and prevents it from damage. Protein has a vital role in the growth of hairs. Due to the beneficial effects, the hair care products use the protein in it. (5) (6)

  1. Skin health

Proteins support and strengthen the tissues such as skin which is tears constantly. Collagen is considered as the vital protein that strengthens the tissues, cells and organs that is essential for the revitalization. The high presence of collagen protein found in the body provides wrinkle free, healthy and youthful skin. (7) (8)

Traditional uses

  • The grain of Foxtail millet is used in China as an astringent and emollient in choleric affections and diarrhea.
  • The seeds are used in India as a diuretic, to strengthen virility, treat indigestion, dyspepsia and rheumatism.
  • It helps to treat food stagnancy.
  • The seeds (green) help to reinforce virility.
  • The white seeds are useful for fever and cholera.
  • In Pakistan, the crushed seeds are combined with ghee and consumed for the sexual vigor or potency.
  • The decoction made from Setaria oil and bark of Acacia modesta is used as a tonic or to raise fertility in females and males.
  • It is used in India to enhance vigor and treat bone fractures.
  • The cooked grains are used in Chhattisgarh as a cure for diarrhea.
  • The paste is externally used as a cure for swellings.
  • It is combined with other herbs to cure dysuria.
  • In Aurangabad, the decoction made from the whole plant is used internally for rheumatism and reduce the pains caused due to parturition.
  • The seeds are used to treat diabetes.
  • In Western Himalaya, it is combined with cow’s curd in order to treat measles.


  • The sensitive people might get allergic reactions so they should avoid it.
  • It should be consumed in limited amounts.

How to Eat         

  • Seed are consumed as a sweet or savory food.
  • Foxtail millet is used as a basic food in North Africa, South and East Asia and South Eastern Europe.
  • The grain cooked in milk or water is consumed as rice.
  • The seeds are grounded as flour and used to make porridge puddings, cakes and bread.
  • The flour made by Foxtail millet is used to make noodles.
  • Foxtail millet is combined with pulses in Northern China and cooked.
  • In China, it is used to make millet crisp rolls, mini crisp chips and flour.
  • In China, it is used to make wines and vinegar.
  • In Myanmar and Russia, it is used to prepare alcohol and beer.
  • In China, the seeds are sprouted and consumed as vegetable.






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