A healthy diet does not have to be boring! Probably each of us has moments of weakness, in which looking at them every day eaten varieties of groats or rice, is simple enough. If we are looking for a springboard from everyday flavors, we can think about sorghum, African cereal that brings a lot of benefits to our health. In this article, we present why it is worth introducing sorghum into your diet and what we can gain from it.
What are sorghum seeds?
Sorghum (Sorghum Moench) is one of the ancient cereals and the beginnings of its cultivation date back to about 10,000 years BC. It comes from the areas of the African continent, as well as South and Central America. Currently, the largest producer of sorghum in the United States, which is also a leading exporter and supplier of the third most popular and desirable cereal in the world. Why?
Sorghum is one of the most efficient and at the same time economical cereals of all species. Low price, easy growing conditions, as well as high resistance of the plant (eg to fungi, mold or sudden drought), mean that in the future sorghum will be perceived as one of the basic nutritional components of our diet. So far, sorghum is used in culinary practice as an addition or interesting variety of dishes. In most cases, the cereal is used to produce groats or flour. Nevertheless, sorghum is used by farmers as fodder for farm animals, which contains an incredibly large amount of beneficial nutrients. Sorghum is also used for the production of ethanol, and even as an addition enriching the taste of precious alcohol.
Sorghum should be grown mainly on dry, light and fertile soils. The cereal likes warm soils that heat up quickly, but they can not be damp. Sorghum is characterized by high resistance to soil salinity, as well as drought, alkalization, and short-term flooding. It can withstand extremely high temperatures as well as periodic water shortages. However, it is very sensitive to low temperatures.
As mentioned before, sorghum is grown in various regions of the world – tropical and subtropical climate, as well as moderate warm.
In Poland sorghum is a niche crop, its area does not exceed 100 ha. Poland’s soil and climatic conditions mean that sorghum is not used in the food industry, as most varieties that are available on our market are not able to reach full maturity of seeds. However, thanks to intensively conducted breeding work in recent years, new varieties of sorghum were created, which produce seeds in a temperate climate, also in Poland.
The model portion of 100 g sorghum provides the body with 329 kcal, which corresponds to the typical energy value of most groats. The main macro-component is, of course, carbohydrates (starch), which are used as a source of energy needed for both physical and mental exertion. Sorghum, despite the small presence of fatty compounds and low protein content, can boast of a high amount of dietary fiber. The 6.7 g dose largely helps to improve the digestive tract and quickly cleanse the body of toxic compounds. It is worth to introduce sorghum into the diet in the form of an addition to the main course and replace it with potatoes or pasta.
Sorghum contains a lot of detoxification compounds and antioxidants, which allow for more efficient and correct metabolism and improvement in the absorption of nutritional values. Analyzing the purifying properties of sorghum in terms of efficiency and composition, they can be compared with blueberries. It is also a group of the strongest plant antioxidants, so sorghum shows equally intense properties. African cereals are also a valuable source of numerous micronutrients, among which manganese is at the forefront. It is an element responsible for the regulation of sexual condition, thyroid work, and also one of the components that create bone mass. In sorghum, we also find a large dose of magnesium, whose role in the human body is repeatedly emphasized by every doctor and specialist. Magnesium regulates most of our body’s processes, which mainly relate to muscular, nervous and cardiovascular systems. Also, its composition is characterized by a high content of B vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) and copper, potassium and iron, which are also valuable components of our diet. Detailed information on the nutritional values of sorghum is provided in the table below.
* percent of the daily requirement for a given ingredient
Impact on health
Contrary to appearances, sorghum has an extremely beneficial effect on health. The reason is, of course, the composition rich in numerous nutrients, which are a valuable element of our diet. We mentioned earlier about the high content of useful antioxidants, which successfully allow limiting the amount of harmful free radicals. One of them is deoxycytidine, which has an extremely strong anticancer effect, which is one of the elements of the prevention of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract (more accurately the large intestine). The largest content of 3-DXA is found in the dark fruits already mentioned in the text, colloquially referred to like blueberries. Sorghum, on the other hand, is characterized by one of the strongest antioxidant activities, which is nearly four times the size of the remaining varieties of cereals.
A large amount of antioxidant compounds determines one more thing. Sorghum, compared to others and at the same time more popular sources of carbohydrates, allows to effectively stop the process of protein glycation. This mechanism involves the attachment of glucose molecules to our proteins, which in turn results in an increased risk of diabetes and acceleration of the body’s aging process. What’s more, sorghum is a low-fat cereal, and the lipid compounds present in it are mainly omega-3 and omega-6. Healthy fats can be a very good way to normalize cholesterol, with the difference that sorghum causes the lowering of LDL without affecting the condition of good HDL cholesterol. The sorghum grain can also be successfully consumed by people suffering from diabetes, as it is characterized by a low glycemic index. Considering the low glycemic index, relatively low digestibility and the presence of numerous tannins found in sorghum grain, it can be concluded that this cereal has a positive effect on weight reduction.
In the end, it is worth adding that sorghum is a grain completely devoid of gluten. It turns out that African cereal can be successfully used in the diet of people struggling with problems such as celiac disease, allergy or gluten intolerance.