Looking for natural foods that are healthy, versatile, and tasty? Then you are sure to love sorghum.
This ancient grain is not only loaded with nutrients and fiber, but also without gluten.
Perhaps your only familiarity with this grain is seeing it as a syrup bottled at the grocery store. This tasty and nutritious syrup comes from the herb related to bamboo, fescue, and lemongrass.
Since this grain tolerates long dry spells, it is often grown in arid climates where rainfall is minimal. Much of the world’s supply comes from African nations, where it is a staple crop. It is also a significant export crop for warmer regions of the United States.
This grain has a history dating back at least 8,000 years BC. C. in Ancient Egypt, says an article published by the Kansas Farm Food Connection. Over the centuries, its cultivation spread throughout the world, including North America. In fact, the article claims, Benjamin Franklin may have been the first to write about using the herbaceous plant to make brooms in the colonies.
The article also mentions that Kansas is the leading producer of this grain. Grain and its products are not only used for human consumption, but are also used to feed farm animals and to produce ethanol.
Do you live in a warm climate and have moderate sandy soil? You can grow this beautiful grain as fast as you can, corn or wheat. It is an annual that starts from seed and you can grow as much or as little as you like.
In syrup form, it creates a sweet, thick and dark nectar similar to molasses. However, these syrups have different flavor profiles and are derived from different plants. Molasses is processed from the sweet juices of the sugar cane plants and the other comes from the grain.
Preparation of the different types of sorghum
This healthy plant can be prepared in many ways, not just as the perennial syrup in the baking aisle. Did you know that different cultivars have grain in four different colors? You can find the grain in yellow, white, red, or black.
It is a versatile grain that can be enjoyed whole or ground into flour or in thick, sweet syrup. Either way, you can incorporate a shape of the grain into a delicious and delicious nutritious recipes. It is the perfect complement to savory or sweet dishes.
You’ll also be happy to know that preparing this hearty grain is as simple as making rice or any other of your favorite snacks. If you buy the whole or round variety, also called pearl, you have many preparation options. You can make it on your stovetop, in a pressure cooker, in a slow cooker, or even in your rice steamer.
Feel free to use this delicious veggie in any of your whole grain dishes. It has a subtle fragrance and a pleasant al dente texture. Its flavor is light and neutral, and it is ideal to mix with a fresh salad, soup, stew or an independent garnish. You can even put it on the stove as miniature popcorn.
You can also enjoy this plant in its processed forms, such as syrup and whole wheat flour. Many gluten-free mixes in the store contain flour made from this grain. Makes delicious gluten-free treats like cookies, bread, and muffins. Just remember to enjoy them in moderation.
Nine health benefits of consuming sorghum
A publication of Whole Grain Council recommends that you eat at least three servings of whole grains each day, totaling about 48 grams. In addition to being tasty and inexpensive, sorghum offers this recommendation and more. Here are nine health benefits to consider.
1. Provides many antioxidants
A study published by Phytochemistry found that this grain is an important source of antioxidants. These natural phytochemicals protect your body’s cells from free radical damage. By doing so, the study says, it is possible to reduce the chances of developing common illnesses.
The study also mentions that the tannin in this herbaceous plant can reduce your chances of obesity. This can lead to better heart health. It can also make you less prone to obesity-related diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and certain cancers, according to the study.
2. Sorghum can reduce inflammation
If you have inflammation in your body, it can be a main source of pain and certain diseases. According to an article published by the Medicinal Food Magazine, the phytochemicals found in specific cultivars have anti-inflammatory properties. It suggests that a healthy diet that includes this grain can help reduce inflammation and disease predisposition in your body.
3. Protein punch
Are you trying to include more healthy protein in your daily meals? Here is a tasty grain product that can help. It is especially beneficial for vegan or vegetarian who need high protein alternatives to meat.
Just a half cup of this ancient food provides 11 grams of protein, says a post from Nutritional value. This serving would represent 22 percent of your daily protein recommendation, the source cites. Even if you are trying to eat less meat, it is an excellent source of plant protein.
4. Pump your iron
Your body could not function without iron, a mineral abundant in many foods. It helps your blood cells carry oxygen more efficiently and stimulates your immune system.
Want to maximize your daily iron intake? This grain is a delicious way to do it. If you have a diagnosed iron deficiency, incorporating it into your diet can restore balance to your body.
Ancient grains and cereals are some of the best sources of fiber you can consume. Fiber provides the bulk material that moves nutrients through your digestive tract. A table published by the USDA states that half a cup of this grain provides 6.7 grams of beneficial fiber.
6. Good for your heart
Your heart needs several vitamins and minerals to stay healthy, and this grain can provide them. Some of these heart-healthy substances include potassium, magnesium, and fiber. These nutrients can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, which in turn can reduce the risk of heart problems.
7. Can stabilize glucose levels
The high fiber content of this grain not only benefits your digestive system, it can also help you control your blood glucose levels. Fiber acts as a filter and prevents ingested glucose from entering the bloodstream immediately. With this gradual entry, your blood glucose level can stay steady instead of going up and down.
8. It can help lower cholesterol
If you have a problem with high cholesterol, consider adding this grain to your diet. Its abundant fiber binds to excess cholesterol molecules and prevents the bloodstream from absorbing them. You may notice a difference the next time your cholesterol is checked.
In addition to beneficial fiber, it contains plant sterols that can further reduce the absorption of cholesterol, especially the harmful LDL type. Plant sterols are also found in other whole grains, such as rye and oats. It is a tasty way to lower cholesterol and minimize the risks of cardiovascular disease.
9. Sorghum is suitable for celiac disease
Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with celiac disease? According to an article published by the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestion, and Kidney Diseases, people with celiac disease cannot ingest gluten because it wreaks havoc on the small intestine. If they eat something with gluten, they fight painful bloating and diarrhea and cannot absorb vital nutrients.
Unfortunately, Gluten is the main protein in whole grains like wheat and rye.. Therefore, many baked goods are off your menu if you have celiac disease. The good news is that sorghum is a whole grain that is naturally gluten-free and can be safely used in many of your favorite recipes.
Possible risks or side effects of consuming sorghum
Most people can incorporate this delicious grain into their diet without any problem. However, you may need to keep your intake moderate if you have a sensitivity to foods high in potassium. It is something to discuss with your medical provider or a registered dietitian.
Potassium is an essential electrolyte that keeps your muscles healthy and strong. The excess potassium you consume is usually removed harmlessly through your kidneys. But your kidneys may not be completely red if you have chronic kidney disease, so potassium can build up to dangerous levels.
Two servings or less of this grain can keep your potassium at a safe level. However, overeating can raise your potassium levels and threaten your health. Such a condition could cause a heart attack.
Sorghum and its processed products offer health benefits that are hard to ignore. Whether you have a gluten intolerance or need a nutrient and fiber boost, this plant may be your answer. Talk to a registered dietitian to discover more interesting ways to incorporate it into your healthy diet.