Sorghum is the least known grain though it has been in existence for centuries. It’s rich in nutrients and has often been used as a gluten-free dietary option, especially for people with celiac disease. This article explores more on sorghum nutrition and how it can benefit your health.
What Is Sorghum?
Sorghum is an ancient grain and a member of the millet family.
It’s native to Africa where it’s grown as a major crop.
It’s also the fifth most grown grain in the world after wheat, rice, corn, and barley.
Other names for sorghum include
- Milo in parts of India
- Jowar in other areas of India
- Guinea corn in West Africa
- Dura in Sudan
- Kafir in South Africa
- Kaoliang in China
- Mtamain in Eastern Africa
Sorghum is grown for different purposes including human consumption, as animal feed, and for ethanol fuel production.
For consumption purposes, sorghum can be cooked the same way as rice and quinoa. It can also be ground into flour for different dishes including porridge, flatbread, muffins, or any other gluten-free recipe. Some people may make sorghum syrup also referred to as sorghum molasses.
Sorghum is a nutrient-rich cereal high in vitamins, minerals, and other health-enhancing nutrients.
Half a cup of uncooked sorghum provides approximately
- Carbohydrates: 69 grams
- Protein:6 grams
- Fiber:7 grams
- Calories: 316
- Fat: 3 grams
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine):3 milligrams, or 26 percent of the daily requirements
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin):1 milligrams, or 7 percent of the daily requirement
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid):4 mg, or 7 percent of the daily requirement
- Vitamin B6: 4 milligrams, or 25 percent of the daily requirement
- Magnesium: 165 milligrams, or 37 percent of the daily requirement
- Copper:3 milligrams, or 30 percent of the daily requirement
- Phosphorus: 289 milligrams, or, 22 percent of the daily requirement
- Iron:4 milligrams, or 18 percent of the daily requirement
- Zinc:6 milligrams, or 14 percent of the daily requirement
- Potassium: 363 milligrams, or 7 percent of the daily requirement
Sorghum flour is also high in other nutrients, like antioxidants including anthocyanin, phenolic compounds, and tannins which may help reduce oxidative stress and fight inflammation.
A quarter cup of sorghum flour can offer up to
- Calories: 130
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Protein: 3 grams
- Carbohydrates: 28 grams
- Fat:5 grams
- Potassium: 124 milligrams, or 2 percent of the daily requirement
- Iron: 1 milligram, or 6 percent of the daily requirement
What Are The Health Benefits Of Sorghum?
1. Gluten Free
Although gluten is popular in grains like wheat, rye, and barley, sorghum is an excellent alternative for those who are trying to stick to a gluten-free diet. Because sorghum doesn’t contain any gluten whatsoever, it can be safely consumed by people with celiac disease or an intolerance to gluten. In fact, many people who don’t have health problems consume sorghum because they believe it’s healthier than other grains.
Generally, limiting your gluten intake no matter how healthy you seem is sometimes the best option for your health. Eliminating gluten from diets can help combat certain health problems, including digestive issues and certain cancers.
Gluten is a protein that’s often difficult to digest. This irritates the gut flora, leading to inflammation. Over time, chronic inflammation may lead to various chronic conditions.
Gluten may also lead to constipation, bloating, and diarrhea in more sensitive individuals. Sorghum, on the other hand, is more tolerant as it’s easier to digest.
2. It’s Non-GMO
Any food whose natural structure has been tampered with has the ability to influence your health negatively. Genetically modified crops are no different and have flooded the food market with wheat being top of the list.
Sorghum offers the best natural alternative as it’s grown from traditional hybrid seeds involving the combination of several sorghum varieties. This method has been used for centuries and does not involve biotechnology or any form of alteration.
3. It’s High In Fiber
Sorghum is rich in fiber, an essential nutrient needed for good bowel movements, proper digestion, digestive health, and heart health.
Adding sorghum to your diet is a great way to get more fiber. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or are looking for new ways to stay healthy, research has shown that eating more fiber can help reduce risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.
High-fiber diets also boost weight loss by helping keep you full—it takes longer for your body to digest high-fiber foods than low-fiber ones. When choosing between different types of grains, be sure to pick up some sorghum! One cup contains 8 grams of fiber—that’s almost half your daily recommended intake. And with over 5 grams per serving, it’s one of the highest-fiber grains out there.
4. Reduces Risk of Diabetes
Sorghum flour is low on the Glycemic index, meaning it has a low effect on blood glucose, which is beneficial to anyone, especially those with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. The controlled glucose level in the blood will prevent high levels of insulin secretion, thus allowing your cells to be more sensitized and receptive to insulin. Overall, this will improve diabetes or lower your risk of developing it.
Moreover, sorghum is high in insoluble fiber, meaning it takes a long time to digest and is likely to keep you feeling full for longer. This also maintains a steady blood sugar level before your next meal. Insoluble fiber has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels, making sorghum an ideal food for people with diabetes.
In fact, studies have found that diets rich in whole grains—including sorghum—can significantly lower your risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. Consuming plenty of insoluble fiber from foods like whole grains can help protect against both diabetes and heart disease.
The World Health Organization recommends consuming 25 grams of dietary fiber per day for optimal health; however, most Americans fall far short of that goal, getting only about 15 grams daily. Incorporating foods like sorghum into your diet can help you meet or exceed your daily target easily.
5. Rich in Antioxidants
Antioxidants are essential to help the body fight against harmful free radicals that may cause inflammation and cell damage leading to premature aging and disease formation including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. For instance,
According to research, black, brown, and red sorghum are rich in anthocyanin antioxidants and their activities are 3-4 times more than in any other grain.
White grained-sorghum on the other hand is high in polyphenol content which has been shown to regulate blood pressure, reduce chronic inflammation, reduce and control blood sugar levels and promote healthy blood vessels thus promoting good circulation.
6. Lowers cholesterol
Cholesterol is essential for your body, but it can become problematic when you have too much. One cup of sorghum provides 40 percent of your daily fiber intake, which may help to lower cholesterol levels. Sorghum is high in insoluble fiber, which absorbs water and turns into a gel-like substance that slows down digestion. This substance also helps prevent cholesterol absorption, causing your levels to drop.
One cup of sorghum contains 8 grams of total dietary fiber and 3 grams of soluble fiber.
In addition to its fiber content, sorghum also contains compounds called phytosterols that further reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood.
Sorghum has also been shown to help lower triglycerides, a type of fat found in our blood and body tissues. High levels of triglycerides can increase your risk for heart disease. So, consuming sorghum can help lower both cholesterol and triglycerides thus maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system.
7. Enhances weight loss
The ability to help with weight loss is one benefit that has led to sorghum growing in popularity, especially among people who are looking for healthier alternatives. The protein content helps with satiety and keeps you feeling full longer, while also cutting down on calorie intake. There are no sugars in sorghum, which means it’s an excellent food choice for those looking to avoid gaining weight or working toward maintaining a healthy weight.
Also, sorghum is low in fat and high in fiber and can help you feel full for longer periods of time. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating 25 or more grams of fiber daily can significantly help people lose weight.
In fact, over a 12-week period, participants who increased their dietary fiber intake lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t increase their consumption. People who ate an additional 14 grams of soluble fiber—the type found in foods like sorghum, oatmeal, apples, beans, and berries—lost an average of five pounds without making any other changes to their diet. To incorporate more sorghum into your diet, try adding it to salads or using it as a replacement for rice or pasta.
8. Prevents cancer
Sorghum is rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals that can help your body destroy carcinogens that cause tumors and reduce inflammation. In addition, sorghum may also be able to slow down or prevent tumor growth. It has been shown to reduce tumor size and even inhibit metastasis (the spread of cancer cells from one part of the body to another). Other studies have found that consuming foods with high levels of sorghum can help prevent breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, and skin cancer.
9. May Improve Bone Health
Getting enough calcium is essential for improving and maintaining bone health. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products is typically high in calcium, but if you’re a vegan or don’t consume dairy products at all you may need to look into other sources.
That’s where sorghum comes in. Not only does it contain some calcium but it also helps improve digestive system so that your body can absorb more of what it needs from other foods. And since sorghum contains magnesium and phosphorus, both necessary minerals for good bone health, it’s great for promoting strong bones.
In fact, the high magnesium levels in sorghum increase calcium absorption, which in turn promotes healthy and strong bones. Magnesium also plays a huge role in increasing bone density and preventing osteoporosis. It’s also essential for proper muscle and nerve function.
How to Add Sorghum to the Diet
Grind it into flour
Sorghum flour has a similar texture and taste to almond flour, and it’s a great alternative for those who can’t consume nuts. The protein in sorghum flour is easy on digestion and low in carbs, making it an ideal choice for gluten-free baked goods.
Like other whole grains, sorghum flour is chock-full of nutrients like iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. It also provides B vitamins, vitamin E, and vitamin K. Plus, sorghum flour contains more than twice as much fiber as all-purpose wheat flour. Use it to make pancakes or waffles, or substitute it for up to half of your regular flour when baking bread or muffins.
Make sorghum tea
Sorghum tea is considered a delicacy in China, but it’s easy to make at home. Mix 1 cup of sorghum with 2 cups of water and let it steep for 10 minutes. This tea is tasty and loaded with antioxidants, making it a great drink when you’re looking for a bit of flavor while reducing your sugar intake. Make sure to cut back on sweeteners—or skip them entirely!—to avoid added calories.
Use it as a garnish on a salad
Not only is sorghum great for adding an extra pop of flavor and color, but it also acts as a prebiotic in your digestive system, helping you break down and absorb more nutrients from your leafy greens. And eating leafy greens provides all sorts of health benefits, including lowering the risk of heart disease, fighting cancer cells, improving digestion, and promoting weight loss. So get out there and add some sorghum to your salad!
Freeze-dry for cereal and granola bars
With sorghum’s light, nutty flavor and robust texture, you might be tempted to forego cereal entirely and just eat it with a spoon. But we’ve got another idea: Freeze-dry your favorite sorghum recipes into freeze-dried cereals or granola bars. These crispy snacks pack a delicious punch in small doses with no spoon required.
Other Gluten-Free Grains
Sorghum is an ancient grain with its origin in Africa but is now grown all over the world
Although it doesn’t get the attention it deserves, sorghum is packed with nutrients such as magnesium, phosphorus, copper, iron, zinc, fiber, antioxidants, and the B vitamins.
Regular consumption may improve glucose regulation, improve diabetes, lower the risk for chronic conditions such as heart disease and cancer, improve bone density, prevent osteoporosis, and promote digestive health.
Moreover, sorghum is gluten-free and a great option for those on a gluten-free diet. You can prepare sorghum the same way you do rice, make sorghum tea, or simply use grounded forms for different recipes such as baking.
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