It is no secret that grains are an important part of a healthy and balanced diet. From quinoa to brown rice, grains are certainly having a moment in the spotlight, thanks to their nutritional profile and versatility.
But while there are some choices that have become mainstream in popularity, there are others that deserve their moment to shine on our dinner plates too. Among the sea of grain options out there, sorghum is a grain that is newer to many of our kitchens, yet it has been used in certain African and Asian dishes for years. And it is certainly a grain that you should have on your radar.
Sorghum is a cereal grain that is circular in shape and firm in texture, even when cooked. And it can be enjoyed boiled, stewed, and even popped (yup, just like popcorn).
Here are some of the ways sorghum is a grain worth knowing and loving.
Sorghum is nutritious
Eating a diet rich in whole grains is a surefire way to include fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients in your diet. And if you are trying to eat more whole grains, sorghum can be just what the doctor ordered.
When digging into the nutritional value of sorghum, it is easy to see just how nutritious this grain is. Whole grain sorghum is an excellent source of 12 essential nutrientsincluding iron and magnesium.
A serving of cooked whole grain sorghum provides more than double the amount of protein as a serving of quinoa, and one half-cup serving of cooked whole grain sorghum has nearly double the iron of a 3-ounce sirloin steak. This grain is also an excellent source of zinc, a nutrient that may support immune health.
Eating sorghum may support heart health
Since heart disease is the #1 killer for Americans, it is no wonder why people are focused on taking steps to support this aspect of their health. One way to do this is to manage chronic inflammation, as chronic inflammation is quite common among those with this heart-health condition. Sorghum appears to have anti-inflammatory benefitswhich can help combat this effect and, in turn, may support your heart health.
Sorghum also has nutrients that are emphasized on the DASH-dietincluding magnesium, potassium, and calcium, which may support heart health too.
It may also support digestive health
It is clear that fiber plays a key role in your digestive health. Whole grain sorghum is a naturally gluten-free grain, and half a cup of this grain provides more than 6 grams of fiberwhich is nearly 25% of the recommended daily fiber intake.
But not only is sorghum a source of fiber, it also provides a variety of fibers, from soluble to insoluble, to even prebiotic fibers to help “fuel” live probiotics in your gut. In fact, recent studies have shown the potential prebiotic activity of whole grain sorghum in the form of polyphenols found in the bran of sorghum grain.
Sorghum is naturally gluten-free
Celiac is the most common autoimmune disease in the US. Among the many things people do to manage this disease, avoiding gluten is one of them. And unlike eating traditional bread or pasta, eating sorghum is safe for those who are avoiding gluten in their diets.
According to results of one study evaluating people with Celiac disease, feeling these participants sorghum-derived food products for five days did not result in any symptoms of intoleranceand the level of anti-transglutaminase antibodies was unmodified at the end of the five-day period, confirming that this grain is safe for gluten-free diets.
Sorghum is a whole grain worth trying
Sorghum is an unsung hero in the grain world, and including it in your dishes can add a boost of nutty flavor and nutrition in a simple way. From adding it to soups, to enjoying it in taco dishes, to using it as a simple grain side dish, sorghum offers a lot in terms of nutrition, flavor, and versatility. So, try something new and enjoy the unique texture and flavor that sorghum has to offer.
Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD, CLEC
Lauren Manaker is an award-winning registered dietitian, book author, and recipe developer who has been in practice for almost 20 years. Read more about Lauren