Processing, nutritional composition and health benefits of finger millet in sub-saharan Africa

Abstract Finger millet (Eleusine coracana) also known as tamba, is a staple cereal grain in some parts of the world with low income population. The grain is characterized by variations in colour (brown, white and light brown cultivars); high concentration of carbohydrates, dietary fibre, phytochemicals and essential amino acids; presence of essential minerals; as well as a gluten-free status. Finger millet (FM) in terms of nutritional composition, ranks higher than other cereal grains, though the grain is extremely neglected and widely underutilized. Nutritional configuration of FM contributes to reduced risk of diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure and gastro-intestinal tract disorder when absorbed in the body. Utilization of the grain therefore involves traditional and other processing methods such as soaking, malting, cooking, fermentation, popping and radiation. These processes are utilised to improve the dietetic and sensory properties of FM and equally assist in the reduction of anti-nutritional and inhibitory activities of phenols, phytic acids and tannins. However, with little research and innovation on FM as compared to conventional cereals, there is the need for further studies on processing methods, nutritional composition, health benefits and valorization with a view to commercialization of FM grains.