Are There Health Benefits to Eating Sorghum?

Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) is a less well-known grain in the world food market. It comes in a distant fifth for most produced grains—behind barley, rice, wheat, and corn. While dwarfed by better-known grains (or cereals), sorghum is an important crop that has long played a vital role in certain diets.

Other names for sorghum include great millet, Indian millet, and jowar. It’s a grass plant thought to have originated in Africa, where it has remained a major crop. It’s grown and sold for a number of purposes besides human consumption. Sorghum is a popular animal feed as well as an emerging biofuel.

Today, more than 500 million people in more than 30 different countries rely on sorghum as a key part of their diet. Many people are also looking at sorghum for its unique characteristics. In particular, those with celiac disease have been drawn to sorghum as a source of gluten-free flour. 

Nutrition Information

Sorghum can be cooked and eaten, though it is also frequently processed into ingredients for other dishes. A quarter cup of whole-grain sorghum contains approximately:

  • Calories: 163
  • Protein: five grams
  • Fat: two grams
  • Carbohydrates: 36 grams
  • Fiber: three grams

One of the most prominent micronutrients in sorghum is iron. One-quarter cup of sorghum contains approximately 12% of your daily recommended value. Other micronutrients found in sorghum include:

Potential Health Benefits of Sorghum

Sorghum has a unique structure, making it harder for your body to absorb proteins from the whole grains. In spite of this drawback, studies have shown a number of health benefits linked to the consumption of sorghum.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Sorghum is known to be rich in phenolic compounds, many of which act as antioxidants. It has also been shown to be good at reducing some forms of inflammation due to its antioxidant properties.

Anti- Cancer Effects

Several of the phenolic compounds in sorghum have been linked to anti-cancer effects. The tannins in sorghum, which contribute to the grain’s pigmentation, may inhibit an enzyme linked to the development of breast cancer.

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Another set of phenolic compounds found in sorghum, known as 3-deoxyanthocyanidins, have been shown to have a destructive effect on some human cancer cells.

Weight Loss

The starches in sorghum are difficult for the human body to digest, compared to other grains. As a result, sorghum is an excellent addition to any meal, helping you feel full without contributing too many calories to your diet.

Safe for Celiac Disease

Sorghum and its byproducts, including sorghum flour, have been determined to be a safe alternative grain for those with Celiac’s disease. 

Potential Health Risks of Sorghum

The biggest health risk of sorghum is tied to its potential as an allergen.

Sorghum Allergy

Allergies associated with grasses and grass pollen are extremely common. Unfortunately, Sorghum is a grass and is known to produce an allergic reaction in some people. Food allergy symptoms include tingling or itching of the mouth, swelling in and around the mouth, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and even fainting. Severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis can result in any food allergy and can be life-threatening.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on October 08, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Britannica: “Sorghum.”

Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety: “Sorghum Grain: From Genotype, Nutrition, and Phenolic Profile to Its Health Benefits and Food Applications.”

Institute of Food Technologists: “Sorghum: An Ancient Grain with Present-day Benefits.”

Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: “Quantitative Analysis of Anticancer 3-Deoxyanthocyanidins in Infected Sorghum Seedlings.”

Nutrition Value: “Sorghum Grain.”

Purdue News: “Purdue Researcher Solves Sorghum Mystery.”

statista: “Worldwide Production of Grain in 2018/2019, by Type.”

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