Sorghum: An Ancient Grain With Dietary Benefits For Diabetes
Cooking and baking with the ancient cereal grain sorghum has health benefits for people with diabetes, and those with weight control issues.
Sorghum is the third most important crop grown in the U.S., according to the Whole Grains Council. It’s not only a nutritious food source, but is used as animal feed, and bio-available fuel. It is also a frequent ingredient in gluten-free flour blends.
Benefits of Sorghum
For those with diabetes, sorghum benefits come from the grain’s mix of fiber, phenols, antioxidants, protein, and its low-glycemic status:
- Fiber-Full. Whole grains are a fantastic source of dietary fiber, and unlike many other grains, sorghum does not have an indigestible hull that must be removed. So, even sorghum’s fiber-rich outer layers can be eaten.
- Consuming adequate fiber is essential for good digestion, cardiovascular health, and helps us to feel energized and satisfied longer after meals. Plus, the tannins in sorghum are reported to inhibit weight gain.
- Healthy Compounds. Sorghum’s bounty of antioxidants and phytochemicals give this grain anti-inflammatory properties associated with reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses. Phenolic compounds in sorghum are believed to deter processes underlying many diabetic complications, and the grain has an outer waxy layer containing plant compounds with significant cholesterol-lowering potential.
- Low-Glycemic Mix. Sorghum flour takes longer than similar products to digest because it’s low on the glycemic index, and is high in fiber, and protein. This mix is beneficial for people with diabetes since it retards the rate at which glucose gets into the bloodstream, and helps keep blood sugar levels from spiking.
- Research also indicates that some types of sorghum inhibit protein glycation, or the bonding of sugar molecules with protein molecules, suggesting sorghum consumption may be a natural way to reduce the incidence of insulin resistance and diabetes.
To add sorghum to your diet look for 100 percent sorghum flour that has not been enriched, refined, or bleached. A quarter cup of this flour contains 25 grams carbohydrate, 120 calories, a gram of fat, 4 grams protein, and no sugar.
When preparing baked goods, unbleached sorghum can be substituted for about 15 to 30 percent of your regular wheat flour. Because sorghum does not rise as readily as some lighter flours, using 100 percent sorghum is not recommended. However, sorghum has a smooth texture and a mild flavor so it works well in sweet recipes, and small amounts can be used to thicken sauces or stews.
If you purchase gluten-free flour blends that contain sorghum, you will have to add a binding agent to baked good recipes, such as a half teaspoon xanthan gum, or some cornstarch. Adding a bit more oil or fat, or more egg to foods made with gluten-free blends can increase moisture and improve texture.
Naturally, if you have any digestive problems, or have been put on a restricted diet, check with your doctor or dietitian before adding new foods.