While you may have never heard of sorghum before, this grain has been around for centuries.
It’s rich in nutrients and easy to add to your diet, but its merits don’t stop there. It’s also widely used as a natural and cost-effective fuel source.
This article reviews the nutritional content and many uses of sorghum.
Sorghum is an ancient cereal grain belonging to the grass family Poaceae. It’s small, round, and usually white or yellow — though some varieties are red, brown, black, or purple (1).
There are many species of sorghum, the most popular being Sorghum bicolor, which is native to Africa. Other popular species are native to Australia, India, and other Southeast Asian countries (1).
Although sorghum is less known in the Western world, it’s the fifth most produced cereal crop in the world, with an annual production of around 57.6 million tons. Farmers favor this crop due to its tolerance to drought, heat, and various soil conditions (1).
In North America, sorghum is commonly used in animal feed and ethanol fuel production. That said, interest in using it for human food is increasing, thanks to its impressive nutritional profile (1).
In its whole form, this grain can be cooked like quinoa or rice, milled into a flour, or popped like popcorn. It’s also converted into a syrup that’s used to sweeten many processed foods.
Sorghum is a cereal grain that’s widely produced around the world. Its whole grain is commonly used in baking, while its syrup is used as a sweetener. Finally, it’s used as a natural fuel source.
Sorghum is an underrated, nutrient-rich cereal grain. Half a cup of uncooked sorghum (96 grams) provides (2):
Protein: 10 grams
Fat: 3 grams
Carbohydrates: 69 grams
Fiber: 6 grams
Vitamin B1 (thiamine): 26% of the Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): 7% of the DV
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): 7% of the DV
Vitamin B6: 25% of the DV
Copper: 30%of the DV
Iron: 18% of the DV
Magnesium: 37% of the DV
Phosphorus: 22% of the DV
Potassium: 7% of the DV
Zinc: 14% of the DV
Sorghum is rich in a variety of nutrients, including B vitamins, which play an essential role in metabolism, neural development, and skin and hair health (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source).
It’s also a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that’s important for bone formation, heart health, and over 600 biochemical reactions in your body, such as energy production and protein metabolism (6Trusted Source).
In addition, sorghum is high in antioxidants like flavonoids, phenolic acids, and tannins. Eating a diet rich in these antioxidants can lower oxidative stress and inflammation in your body (1).
Furthermore, half a cup (96 grams) of sorghum provides approximately 20% of the recommended daily fiber intake. A diet rich in fiber promotes gut health, stabilizes your blood sugar levels, and aids weight management (2, 7Trusted Source).
Finally, this grain is a great source of protein. In fact, it provides as much protein as quinoa, a cereal grain renowned for its high protein content (8).
Sorghum boasts an impressive nutrient profile. It’s a significant source of many vitamins and minerals, fiber, and protein, all of which contribute to good health.
It’s a gluten-free grain option
Gluten is a group of proteins found in certain grains that gives food products a stretchy quality and structure.
With more people avoiding it for health reasons like celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, the demand for gluten-free products is on the rise (9Trusted Source).
For those looking for a gluten-free grain, sorghum is a super healthy option. Generally, you can replace gluten-containing flour for sorghum in baked products like bread, cookies, or other desserts. Furthermore, you can enjoy this whole grain as a hearty side dish.
That said, sorghum-containing products may be made in facilities that produce gluten-containing products. Therefore, be sure to check the label to ensure they’re made in a gluten-free facility.
Sorghum is naturally gluten-free, making it a good option if you’re avoiding gluten.
Sorghum syrup vs. molasses
Similarly to molasses, sorghum syrup is widely used as a sweetener in the food industry. Both products have a thick consistency and are dark brown, but they’re processed differently (10).
Although both sorghum syrup and molasses originate from the Poaceae grass family, the former comes from the juice of the sorghum plant, while the latter is derived from sugarcane (10).
Sorghum syrup is lower in total sugar but higher in fructose, making it sweeter than molasses (10).
In recipes that call for molasses, you can generally replace it with sorghum syrup at a ratio of 1:1. If you find it too sweet, use slightly less or add more liquid.
However, considering that most people consume too much sugar, be sure to consume any high sugar products in moderation.
The color and consistency of sorghum syrup are similar to those of molasses. The syrup is made from the juice of sorghum, while molasses comes from sugarcane. You can usually replace molasses with sorghum syrup at a 1:1 ratio.
Sorghum is versatile and easy to add to a wealth of recipes.
The following are some ways you can enjoy it:
Replace rice or quinoa. You can cook whole grain and pearled sorghum similarly to how you cook rice and quinoa.
Milled flour. Thanks to its neutral flavor and light color, it can easily serve as a gluten-free flour in most recipes. Simply swap it in at a 1:1 ratio.
Popped. Add the grains to a heated pan and watch them pop like popcorn. Add seasonings for extra flavor.
Flaked. Similarly to other cereal grains like oats, flaked sorghum is delicious as a cereal and in baked products, such as granola bars and cookies.
Syrup. Sorghum syrup is commonly added to processed foods as a natural sweetener or an alternative to molasses.