7 Surprising Benefits of Sorghum

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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The major health benefits of sorghum include its ability to prevent certain types of cancer, help control diabetes, offer a dietary option to people with celiac disease, improve digestive health, build strong bones, promote red blood cell development, and boost energy and fuel production.

What is Sorghum?

Sorghum is the broad term for an entire genus of grasses that are native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world. While there are more than 30 different species of sorghum, only one is harvested for human consumption, while the others are primarily used as a fodder for animals.

The important species for humans, Sorghum bicolor, is native to Africa, but can now be found all around the world as a staple food. Sorghum is primarily used in the production of sorghum molasses, sorghum syrup and as a grain. Also, it can be used in the production of alcoholic beverages and even bio-fuels around the world. It is widely considered the fifth most important cereal crop in the world.

The versatility of sorghum, combined with the fact that it is acceptable for people with wheat allergies to eat, makes it extremely important as a staple crop in the world. Furthermore, the vast health benefits associated with sorghum make it a great alternative to other types of grains, grasses, and cereals that are commonly consumed across the globe.

A white bowl filled with sorghum seeds, leaves, and seed heads with a cloth on a green background

Nutrition Facts

Sorghum grain
Serving Size :
Water [g]12.4
Energy [kcal]329
Protein [g]10.62
Total lipid (fat) [g]3.46
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]72.09
Fiber, total dietary [g]6.7
Sugars, total [g]2.53
Calcium, Ca [mg]13
Iron, Fe [mg]3.36
Magnesium, Mg [mg]165
Phosphorus, P [mg]289
Potassium, K [mg]363
Sodium, Na [mg]2
Zinc, Zn [mg]1.67
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]0
Thiamin [mg]0.33
Riboflavin [mg]0.1
Niacin [mg]3.69
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.44
Folate, DFE [µg]20
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]0
Vitamin A, IU [IU]0
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.5
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.61
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]1.13
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]1.56
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0.01
Cholesterol [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Sorghum Nutrition Facts

According to USDA, sorghum is a powerhouse in terms of nutrients. When included in the diet, it can provide vitamins like niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin, as well as high levels of magnesium, iron, copper, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as nearly half of the daily, required intake of protein and a very significant amount of dietary fiber.

Health Benefits of Sorghum

The health benefits of sorghum in relation to our digestive process are innumerable. It helps in treating many diseases as well. Let’s discuss the benefits in detail.

Improves Digestive Health

Sorghum is one of the best foods out there for dietary fiber. A cup of sorghum grains contains 12.9 grams of dietary fiber, meaning that your digestive tract will keep your food moving along smoothly, preventing cramping, bloating, constipation, stomach aches, excess gas, and diarrhea. Furthermore, excess amounts of fiber in the body helps to scrape off dangerous cholesterol (LDL), which helps to improve heart health and protect your body from conditions like atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke.

Anticancer Potential

A 2018 study conducted by US researchers suggests that sorghum bran rich in polyphenol may have anticancer potential and further research and scientific evidence is required. Another research published in PLoS One states that sorghum may have anticarcinogenic and antitumor properties and may prevent metastasis of cancer such as breast cancer. It may also anti-oesophageal effects suggests the same study.

Another animal study led by researchers from Brazil found that sorghum due to the presence of  3-deoxy anthocyanidins and tannins may exhibit anticancer properties.

Research led by Dr. Joseph M. Awika from the Soil and Crop Sciences Department, Texas A&M University, found that the bran layer of the sorghum grains contains important antioxidants, anthocyanins, that are not found in many other types of food. These antioxidants have been directly connected to a reduced chance of developing various types of cancer, including esophageal cancer, particularly in comparison to people who regularly eat wheat and corn. Antioxidants are the beneficial compounds that neutralize and eliminate free radicals in the body, which often cause healthy cells in the body to mutate into cancerous cells.

Manages Diabetes

Excessive carbohydrates break down into simple sugars and wreak havoc on the glucose levels in the body, leading to diabetes, or causing chaos for people who already suffer from this disease. However, the tannin-rich bran of sorghum has enzymes that inhibit the absorption of starch by the body, which can help to regulate insulin and glucose levels in the body. Thus, diabetics won’t suffer as many plunges and spikes in their glucose levels.

Relieves Gluten Allergy

Celiac disease is a severe allergy to gluten, which is primarily found in wheat-based products. Gluten is found in thousands of normal food items, making it very difficult for those suffering from the celiac disease. Fortunately, the Clinical Nutrition journal has covered collaborative research, which highlights that alternative grains and grasses such as sorghum, can be eaten safely by those suffering from this increasingly common condition, without the painful inflammation, nausea, and gastrointestinal damage that gluten causes.

Improves Bone Health

Magnesium is found in high quantities in sorghum, which means that your calcium levels will be properly maintained, as magnesium increases calcium absorption in the body. These two minerals are also integral to the development of bone tissue and speed up the healing of damaged or aging bones. This can prevent conditions like osteoporosis and arthritis, keeping you active and healthy into your old age.

Increases Circulation

As per the research published in the journal Science of The Total Environment, minerals like copper, iron, zinc, magnesium, and calcium are found in sorghum. The presence of copper helps to increase the absorption of iron into the body. This means a decreased likelihood of developing anemia, which is another name for iron deficiency. With enough iron and copper in your system, red blood cell development is increased, thereby boosting blood circulation, stimulating cellular growth and repair, and increasing the hair growth, while also boosting the energy levels in the body.

Boosts Energy Levels

As per a research carried out by the Department of Nutritional Sciences, the University of California, sorghum contains niacin. Niacin is also known as vitamin B3, which is a key component in transforming food into usable energy and fuel for the body by breaking down and metabolizing nutrients into energy.

Word of Caution: There are no known concerns against adding sorghum to your diet. As it is grass, there is the possibility of some people being allergic to it, but the cases of sorghum being allergenic are very rare. Furthermore, with the high content of certain minerals and vitamins, the only real danger is getting too much of a good thing, so eat sorghum in moderation and enjoy all of the wonderful health benefits!

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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