Sorghum (Jowar) - Nutrition And Health Benefits
Sorghum is a crop which is grown for its grain which is used as food for humans as well as livestock. It can also be grown as a forage or as a sweet crop.
Sorghum belongs to the grass family and consists of many subspecies that are broadly divided into 4 groups.
- Grain Sorghum - for use as a cereal grain
- Grass Sorghum - grown for pasture and hay
- Sweet Sorghum - also called sorgo and used to produce sorghum syrup
- Broom Corn (Kaffir Corn) - used to make brooms and brushes
This article will focus on the most popular and widespread variety of Sorghum which is used as a cereal grain - the grain sorghum or commercial sorghum.
Latin name : Sorghum bicolor
Grain or commercial sorghum is also known by a number of other names like milo, jowar or jowari (in India), guinea corn (in West Africa), Kafir corn (in South Africa) and kaoliang (in China).
Popularly, grain sorghum is just called sorghum.
Sorghum is native to Egypt, Ethopia and Sudan from when it moved to Africa, where it became and still is the most important cereal crop.
It is the 3rd most important cereal crop grown in the U.S. and the 5th most important cereal crop in the world.
Sorghum bicolor is the most cultivated and widely grown species of sorghum and is used for a variety of purposes besides food.
Sorghum is a crop of the hot tropical and subtropical regions, those areas that receive scanty rains as well and where other crops fail to even thrive, especially in Africa and Asia.
It is very drought resistant and therefore was grown in the poor countries of the world since ancient times to date and it still remains the main source of the peoples' daily nutritional needs.
Since sorghum does not contain gluten it is just the right replacement for wheat, for people sensitive to wheat or gluten, or those suffering from celiac disease.
Uses Of Sorghum
Sorghum is used to make sorghum flour, porridge, malted and distilled beverages, sorghum syrup/pmolasses and even popped grain much like popcorn.
Sorghum fibers are used to make wall boards, fences, biodegradable packaging materials and solvents. The dried stalks are used as cooking fuel. Dye extracted from the plant is used to color leather. Sorghum is also used to produce adhesives, paper and ethanol.
Whereas in Africa and Asia it is grown for human consumption mostly, in the U.S. it is grown mainly for livestock feed and producing ethanol.
Nutritionally, sorghum is at par with wheat with the added benefit of being gluten free and exceeds corn in nutrition.
Jowar is rich in in antioxidants which include tannins, phytochemicals and anthocyanins. It a non GMO food. Sorghum based foods have lower glycemic load than wheat or rice based foods.
- has good amounts of several Bcomplex vitamins like niacin, thiamine, pantothenic acid, riboflavin & vitamin B6. It also contains some vitamin E.
- has excellent levels of magnesium and manganese and good levels of copper, iron, phosphorus, zinc and potassium.
- supplies 21% of the daily protein needs in 100 grams of the grain.
- is sodium and cholesterol free.
- has high levels of fiber.
- supplies almost 1/4 of the daily requirement of carbohydrates in 100 grams.
See the table below for the individual nutrient values.
Sorghum Nutritional Values
% of Daily Requirement
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
1,377 kJ (329 kcal)
Pantothenic acid (B5)
Health Benefits Of Sorghum
- The fact that it is gluten free makes sorghum flour an excellent substitute for wheat flour and a valuable one for those who have gluten sensitivity/allergy. Being gluten free, it is also easier to digest.
- Since sorghum is grown from hybrid seeds, the traditional way of growing it over the centuries, it is a non GMO food and therefore does not cause issues like digestion, inflammation and allergies.
- Having a low glycemic index and high levels of fiber, sorghum is digested and absorbed slowly which helps to keep the blood sugar levels low. This is a boon to diabetics.
The high fiber content helps keep the digestive and cardiovascular system healthy and keeps the hormones in balance.
- Being a good source of several antioxidants sorghum helps lower inflammation by scavenging free radicals. Along with the various phytochemicals, viz., tannins, phenolic acids, phytosterols, anthocyannins and policosanols, present in sorghum, these reduce risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, among others.
The policosanols also lower the LDL cholesterol and have been found to be as effective as statins in this respect. The phenolic compounds additionally improve the health of the arteries.
- The tannins also help in controlling weight gain ad obesity and other metabolic disorders.
- Sorghum is safe for those with celiac disease as has been demonstrated in a study by the absence of any symptoms during the 5 days such people were fed sorghum foods.
- The high iron and copper content helps raise hemoglobin levels and counters anemia.
- High levels of magnesium increase absorption of calcium. This improves bone health and strength thus preventing problems like arthritis and osteoporosis.
- Vitamin B6 helps boost energy levels thus keeping fatigue at bay longer. Niacin is necessary for the breakdown metabolism of food into energy.
Since the levels of the nutrients mentioned above in Sorghum is relatively much higher than commonly used grains like wheat and rice it stands to benefit using more of this less used millet and the poor man's food to not only control but reduce risk of developing many health issues that afflict many of us today.
This hub is for informational purposes only. Always consult your medical doctor or health practitioner before starting any home remedies or any new health regime.
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© 2016 Rajan Singh Jolly