Millet Milk as a substitute for Dairy Milk


Khumbaron Kiranbala Kabui1 and K.A. Athmaselvi1

Around the world, the intake of milk and milk-based products is rapidly increasing. The majority of people often drink cow’s milk, which is regarded as a healthy whole food that contains important nutrients including fat, proteins, and carbohydrates. But it is only recommended as a complete meal for infants older than a year due to the restricted availability of iron, folate, and certain amino acids in cow’s milk (Sarni & Baroni, 2019). Despite their nutritious quality, the need for novel plant-based milk alternatives is driving the food industry and the world market due to the rising prevalence of cow’s milk allergy, hypercholesterolemia, lactose intolerance, and changes in eating habits toward vegan and vegetarian food. The financially underprivileged communities of developing nations as well as those residing in areas where the availability of cow’s milk is insufficient could benefit from plant-based milk products (Sethi et al., 2016).

Non-dairy/plant-based milk substitutes 
Globally, the industry for non-dairy or plant-based milk substitutes is one of the quickest growth rates in the functional and specialized beverage category of innovative food product development. Moreover, plant-based beverages are more popular now than cow’s milk because they contain no lactose or cholesterol (Munekata et al., 2020). These milk substitutes can be obtained from cereals (rice, oat, millet), legumes (soy), nuts (almond, hazelnut), seeds (hemp), and other sources. Improving the nutritional quality and sensory of plant-based milk alternatives may play a significant role in raising awareness of the product (Durand et al., 2003). The basic processes in the development of plant-based milk alternatives include wet grinding, filtration, ingredient addition, sterilization, homogenization, aseptic packing, and refrigeration (Malyala et al., 2018).

Need for dairy milk substitutes
The prevalence of lactose intolerance, a disease that restricts the intake of milk and dairy products, particularly by the elderly population, is rising across the developed world. Lactose intolerance is the inability to properly digest lactose, a sugar found in dairy products. This occurs due to the lack of the “lactase” enzyme, which converts lactose into glucose and galactose. Dairy products can cause sensitivity in people with inflammatory bowel disease (10–20%), hence they should be avoided (Mishkin, 1997). Milk allergy is a form of food allergy, an unfavorable immunological reaction to one or more of milk’s components, particularly protein. The only way to prevent a milk protein allergy is to completely avoid milk and milk products (Monaci et al., 2006).

In addition, milk is limited in some regions (arid areas), expensive, and some pathogens can cause illness outbreaks and particular health issues like cholesterol, cow’s milk allergy, which is primarily observed in infants and young children, vegetarian and vegan foods, may be thought to be the potential factors behind the conception and production of milk alternatives (Vanga & Raghavan, 2018). The dairy industry has expanded its insight beyond milk products for the development of a wide range of plant-based beverages with nutritional benefits comparable to milk when consumed at the recommended amount in response to the expectations of modern consumers for healthier and more palatable food options (Grant & Hicks, 2018).

Millet milk
Although soy milk has a sizable market and was one of the first non-dairy milk to be introduced to consumers, the problems of soy allergies and the off-flavor limit it from being used as a dairy substitute (Fukui et al., 2002). In the industry of dairy substitutes, any nondairy milk that has an appropriate protein content and sensory attributes can compare with soy milk because it does not have the risk of causing an allergic reaction or having an off flavor.

Millets have the potential to be a good source of dairy substitutes when these aspects are taken into account. It fills up the gap in other sources due to its high protein content, lower starch level, moderate flavor, and few calories. Millets are an excellent crop for use as a dairy substitute through value addition due to their widespread cultivation and reputation for thriving with little maintenance. Millet milk is primarily selected due to its better nutritional value compared to other plant milk sources. This makes it an excellent dairy substitute especially in the current trend toward high nutritional value and low-calorie diets (Raajeswari & Nithya, 2018). It was reported that millet milk retains its nutritional stability at both high and low processing temperatures (U. K. et al., 2020).

The process of extracting milk from millet is simple. They are prepared by extracting them using water. Millets are soaked overnight, ground, and filtered and the liquid thus obtained is the millet milk.

Fermented Millet Sprout Milk Beverage was developed from three different millets such as finger millet, pearl millet, and sorghum based on physicochemical property studies and consumer acceptability data and the technique that has been standardized for making fermented millet sprout milk beverages is quite easy and is suitable for industrial processing (Sudha et al., 2016). A fermented curd was developed using millet milk. Based on the sensory assessment, the millet milk-based curd was found to be highly acceptable as the final produced product (Punniyamoorthy, 2018).

The health advantages of millet milk include lowering blood pressure, heart disease risk, cholesterol, diabetes, and the rate of fat absorption, etc.(Saleh et al., 2013). Millet is a good source of dietary fiber. The insoluble fiber present in millet is known as a prebiotic which promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive system. Millet milk does not have any gluten therefore it is ideal for people with celiac and gluten sensitivity.

Substitutes to dairy milk are actively in search by the population that is lactose intolerant, allergic to cow’s milk, calories restricted, hypercholesterolemia, and vegetarian. In such a view, millet milk is a better option because it has a higher protein, energy, ash, and carbohydrate content while having a lower fat content. Concerning the availability, low price of raw commodities, simplicity of cultivation and processing, and nutritional value, millet milk is a preferable substitute for dairy milk and other plant-based milk alternatives. 

Author’s Bio
1Department of Centre of Excellence for Grain Sciences, National Institute of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management, Thanjavur-613005
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