Sorghum originated in Africa 3000-5000 years ago. It is one of the most drought-tolerant cereal crops currently under cultivation. Nowadays, sorghum is still used as food and feed in the less developed countries such as Africa and Asia. It is the fifth most important crops in the world after maize, rice, wheat and barley. More than 35% of sorghum grain production for human consumption is used to aid digestion and relieve human constipation. The remainder is used as animal feed, in alcohol production and as a raw ingredient in industrial products.
Sorghum grains are generally spherical or spindle-shaped and in the color of white, red, yellow or brown. Sorghum kernel consists of pericarp (outer layer), the endosperm (starch storage compartment) and the germ (embryo). The pericarp is rich in fiber and the endosperm contains mostly starch and protein with low amounts of protein, fat and ash. The red color of its grain is due to the presence of tannin, the same coloring compounds in the grape skin.
In many parts of the world, sorghum has traditionally been used in various food products such as porridge, bread, unleavened bread, cookies, tortilla chips, cakes, couscous, noodles and malted beverage. The whole grain could be boiled or grounded into flour. Sorghum is a powerhouse of nutrient. It is a potentially important source of nutraceuticals, such as antioxidant phenolic and cholesterol-lowering waxes. All sorghum varieties are gluten-free, an attractive alternative for people with a wheat allergy. The nutritive value of sorghum is lower than that of other cereals because of a low content of some essential amino acids. Its nutritional value can be significantly improved through fermentation and germination processes.
12 health benefits of sorghum
Good source of vitamins and minerals
Sorghum, like other cereals, is an excellent source of the fat-soluble and B-complex vitamins. Amongst the B vitamins, concentrations of thiamine, riboflavin and niacin in sorghum were comparable to those in maize. The detectable fat-soluble vitamins are vitamin B, E and K. It is also an important source of mineral and amongst them, phosphorus is the most abundant. Minerals and vitamins are located at the pericarp and germ; therefore, refined sorghum products lose part of these important nutrients.
High in fiber
Sorghum is one of the best sources of dietary fiber. Sorghum does not have an inedible hull so that the whole grain could be eaten. This means it supplies even more fiber, in addition to many other crucial nutrients. One serving of sorghum grain contains 12 g of dietary fiber which is 48% of your daily recommended intake. High-fiber content of sorghum is important for digestion, hormone production and cardiovascular health.
Rich source of antioxidants
Sorghum contains polyphenol compounds in its pericarp which have the health-protective effect that is superior to many of the more popular consumed grains, fruits and vegetables. The antioxidant activity of sorghum was even 3-4 time higher than some of other whole grains. Black sorghum is especially rich in antioxidants because of its high content of anthocyanins. The antioxidants found in sorghum has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic effects.
Inhibit tumor growth
The 3-deoxyanthoxyanins (3-DXA) compounds, most present in the darker-colored sorghum, was shown to have a strong antiproliferation activity against human colon cancer cells. The antioxidants inside the bran layer of sorghum grains scavenge harmful free radicals and reduce the chance of developing various types of cancer. Studies have shown that intake of sorghum is associated with a reduced risk of having esophageal cancer globally.
Nature cure of diabetics
Diabetes is a condition with a higher level of glucose and less sensitivity to insulin. The starch in sorghum grain is more slowly digested compared to other cereals. It is because that the tannin compounds of sorghum bran have an inhibitory effect on amylase which slows down the hydrolysis of starch and the absorption of glucose into the blood stream. Sorghum is a low glycemic index food. Consuming sorghum is beneficial for better control of blood glucose level and increase insulin sensitivity for diabetic patients.
Staple food for celiac patients
Celiac disease is a severe allergy to gluten which is primarily found in wheat-based products. Up to 1% of the United States population is believed to have celiac disease. Sorghum flour a gluten-free and a good alternative to wheat flour for individuals suffering from celiac diseases. Studies have shown that sorghum-based products did no show toxicity for celiac patients.
Lower blood cholesterol
Sorghum has the potential for managing blood cholesterol. The dietary fiber of sorghum helps to reduce the ‘bad’ low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) because of its ability to reduce the amount of bile reabsorbed in the intestine. Moreover, studies showed that lipids of sorghum also have the ability to lower cholesterol levels. Lower level of cholesterol reduced the risk of stroke, chronic inflammation and type 2 diabetics.
Sorghum is an excellent source of dietary fibre and this fibre helps to curb food intake by a sense of stomach fullness leading to increased satiety feeling thereby leading to decrease in food intakes. Sorghum itself is also a low glycaemia index food. Taking sorghum as part of your diet for better control of body weight.
Both calcium and magnesium are essential for strong bones. Magnesium stimulates calcium absorption in the body and adequate calcium is essential for bone health. Deficiency of calcium leads to osteoporosis and arthritis. Sorghum is a good source of both minerals. Every 100 g of sorghum contains 26 mg of calcium and 165 mg of magnesium which equals to 5% of the recommended daily intake of calcium and 40% of the daily recommended intake of magnesium.
The vitamin B6 of sorghum plays a major role in the production of a neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid, GABA. GABA is responsible for regulating the nerve impulses in the human body. Increased GABA production improves your mood, ability to focus, promoting relaxation and helping to control stress and depression.
Boost your energy
Vitamin B-complex, especially vitamin B3 Niacin, is important for your metabolism and help your cells produce useable energy.Sorghum contains 28% of your daily required niacin intake. Ingesting sorghum-based food help you to boost your energy level and remain focused on your work.
Promote blood circulation
Sorghum is very high in both copper and iron, minerals that are crucial to blood circulation. Iron is important for red blood cell development. Copper helps to increase the uptake of iron in the body. Eating sorghum boost the red blood cell synthesis and stimulate blood circulation.
Side effects of eating too much sorghum
The mature plant of sorghum is safe for moderate consumption. However, it should be noted that the immature plant of sorghum is poisonous because of the hydrogen cyanide. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion. It can cause respiratory failure and even death in excess.
10 fun facts of sorghum
- The name ‘sorghum’ comes from Latin ‘Syricum’ meaning ‘grain of Syria’.
- The earliest known record of sorghum is at Nabta Playa dated at 8000 B.C.
- One head of sorghum has 750-1250 seeds.
- One bushel of sorghum can produce 2.7 gallons of ethanol.
- 30-35% percent of domestic sorghum goes to ethanol production.
- Sorghum is used as a high-quality aquatic feed.
- You can pop sorghum just like popcorn.
- The red pigment of sorghum is used as a dye to make red leather in Africa.
- Sorghum is used in pet food because of its low glycemic index.
- The stem of sorghum can be used in the manufacture of baskets and brooms.
For every 100g of sorghum, you will get the following macro- and micro-nutrients:
|% Daily value|
|Calories 339 kcal||17%|
|From carbohydrate 301 kcal|
|From fat 27.6 kcal|
|From protein 10.3 kcal|
|Total carbohydrate74.3 g||25%|
|Protein 11.3 g||23%|
|Total Fat 3.3 g||5%|
|Saturated fat 0.5 g||2%|
|Monounsaturated fat 1.0 g|
|Polyunsaturated fat 1.4 g|
|Omega-3 fatty acids 65 mg|
|Omega-6 fatty acids 1305 mg|
|Cholesterol 0 mg||0%|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 0.2 mg||16%|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.1 mg||8%|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 2.9 mg||15%|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) 0.367 mg||4%|
|Vitamin B60.443 mg||22%|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate) 20.0 mcg||5%|
|Vitamin B120.0 mcg||0%|
|Vitamin C0.0 mg||0%|
|Vitamin D 0.0 mg||0%|
|Vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) 0.50 mg||2%|
|Calcium 28.0 mg||3%|
|Iron 4.4 mg||24%|
|Magnesium 165 mg||40%|
|Phosphorus 287 mg||29%|
|Potassium 350 mg||10%|
|Sodium 6.0 mg||0%|
|Zinc 1.7 mg||11%|
|Copper 0.284 mg||14%|
|Selenium 12.2 mcg||17%|
The percent daily values are based on 2000 calorie diet
It is generally agreed that sorghum originated and was domesticated in the Sub-Saharan region of Africa.It spread to India and China after domestication and reached Western hemisphere during the time of the slave trade. Sorghum grows well in warmer temperature and tropical regions of the world due to its drought tolerance. Today, sorghum represents a major crop in the United States, India, Argentina, Mexico, Africa, China and Australia. Lead producers around the world during the fiscal year 2010 included Nigeria (11.5 million metric tons), the United States (9.7 million metric tons), India (6.98 million metric tons) and Mexico (6.25 million metric tons). Leading exporters are the United States, Australia and Argentina.Even it is the fifth important crops in the world, only 42 million hectares out of the 700 million hectares of cereal-cultivated land is covered by sorghum.
Sorghum has a wide variety of other uses such as beverages, building materials, fuel, ethanol production, and broom production. The whole grain of sorghum is used in a similar way of rice. The flour of sorghum is used in a similar way of wheat flour. The most popular unfermented flatbread from sorghum are roti, a kind of dry pancake. In North Africa, sorghum flour is widely used for the production of popular fermented bread injera and kisra. Sorghum flour has also been used to produce biscuits, granolas and snack foods such as crisps, chips and sham date. Porridge are popular sorghum foods. Thick sorghum porridges are consumed with a sauce containing vegetables, meat or fish. In Africa, there are many traditional native sorghum-based opaque beers. These sorghum-based beers are made from malted sorghum and unmalted maize. They are opaque and pinkish-brown in color due to the presence of the large quantities of suspended particles of starch and grain materials.
Explore More Grains
- Brown Rice: Health Benefits, Side Effects, Fun Facts, Nutrition Facts and History
- Barley: Health Benefits, Side Effects, Fun Facts, Nutrition Facts and History
- Amaranth: Health Benefits, Side Effects, Fun Facts, Nutrition Facts and History
- Wheat: Health Benefits, Side Effects, Nutrition Facts, Fun Facts and History
- Durum Wheat: Health Benefits, Side Effects, Fun Facts, Nutrition Facts and History