Tuesday, May 30

Study: Sorghum balances blood sugar, support Heart Health, and avert cancer. –

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By Prof. Raphael Nyarkotey Obu

Sorghum leaves for making waakye

In Africa, especially where the sorghum plant is cultivated and consumed. Sorghum provides nutrients and calories. The sorghum plant is a member of the grass plant family called Panicoideae,  and the “fifth-most significant cereal crop grown in the world,” according to the Whole Grains Council, and the third most important within the United States.  In Ghana, sorghum leaves are also used in waakye and other delicacies and drinks.  The flour is also used in diverse ways for cooking and baking. It is also gluten-free. It’s also a good choice due to its content of fiber, phosphorus, and iron. Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L. Moench) is an ancient cereal grain that originates from Africa and Australia over 5,000 years ago.

History has it that,  sorghum has its records from an archaeological dig site at Nabta Playa, near the Egyptian-Sudanese border,  8,000 B.C. it further moved from Africa, and dispersed into the Middle East and Asia via ancient trade routes. It further advanced into the Arabian Peninsula, India, and China along the Silk Road.  In 1757, sorghum further gained ground in the United States by Ben Franklin, with his article on how we could use sorghum to make brooms. Today, sorghum is also used in ethanol production.


Sorghum has diverse names around the world:

Milo in parts of India
Guinea corn in West Africa
Kafir corn in South Africa
Dura in Sudan
Mtamain eastern Africa
 Jowar in other areas of India
Kaoliang in China


One article by Levy, J(2021) explained that sorghum is loaded with nutrients such as a good dose of plant-based protein, iron, B vitamins, and dietary fiber. The flour is loaded with antioxidants, including phenolic compounds, tannins, and anthocyanin, which help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.

A quarter-cup (about 35 grams) of sorghum flour contains roughly:

130 calories
28 grams carbohydrates
3 grams protein
0.5 grams fat
2 grams fiber
1 milligram iron (6 percent DV)
124 milligrams potassium (2 percent DV)

One ounce of sorghum grains (about 28 grams) roughly has

94.5 calories
20.9 grams carbohydrates
3.2 grams protein
0.9 grams fat
1.8 grams fiber
80.4 milligrams phosphorus (8 percent Daily value DV)
1.2 milligrams iron (7 percent DV)
0.1 milligrams thiamine (4 percent DV)
0.8 milligram niacin (4 percent DV)
98 milligrams potassium (3 percent DV)

Sorghum, science

Higher fiber

Sorghum is loaded with high fiber content. It is the most significant aspect of eating whole grain sorghum as you get all the retain dietary fiber, unlike the refined grains processed to do away with the bran and germ. As a result of the absence of the inedible hull like some other grains, so even its outer layers commonly are eaten. This provides more fiber with other important nutrients such as iron and the added advantage of its lower glycemic index (Abdelhalim et al. 2019).


Diverse types of sorghum plants have been found with high antioxidant potential.  The high antioxidant contents have been linked to decreased risks of developing cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and some neurological diseases. For instance, one review by Dykes, L(2019) found that sorghum is loaded with diverse plant compounds such as tannins, phenolic acids, anthocyanins, phytosterols, and policosanols. Hence, eating sorghum and sorghum flour could provide the same health benefits as eating Whole Foods such as fruits.

Also, a previous study by  Hussain et al.(2016) found that consuming a diet rich in these antioxidants can lower oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.

Another study by Awika et al.(2004) found that anthocyanin antioxidants are found in black, brown, and red sorghum grains. Antioxidant activity and pH stability were found in sorghum at levels three to four times higher than certain other whole grains.

Though Black sorghum is especially regarded as a high-antioxidant food and had the highest anthocyanin content of all in the study, white-grained sorghum has been found to have a high polyphenol content (Wu et al. 2017). Another review by Varady et al.(2003) also found that Sorghum grains are under a natural, waxy layer that covers the grain and contains protective plant compounds, such as the type called policosanol, and has positive repercussions for cardiac health, and lowering cholesterol.

Finally, Xiong et al. (2019) study found that the phenolic compounds found in sorghum aid arterial health.  The study notes that the phenolics result in the plant having substantial antioxidant properties and non-enzymatic processes that avert pathogenesis at the root of many diabetic complications and cell mutations that may contribute to cancer.

Balances Blood sugar

The longer the digestion of food the better for your health. I have issues with dieticians who kick against longer food digestion. Some claim that because our local foods take longer to digest, they have dire consequences on our health. This is not true. For instance, sorghum flour is low on the glycemic index, because it takes longer than other flours to digest. This slows down the rate at which glucose (sugar) is released into the bloodstream, which is particularly helpful for anyone with blood sugar issues, such as diabetes. Farrar et al.(2008) study found that some varieties of sorghum brans that have high phenolic content and high antioxidant status inhibit protein glycation. This means they can affect serious biological processes that are significant in diabetes and insulin resistance. Finally, half a cup of sorghum provides more than 7 grams of fiber, which is about 25% of the recommended daily fiber intake. A diet rich in fiber aids weight, lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent constipation.

Heart Health, Cancer, and Inflammation

One study by Baaij et al.(2015) found that sorghum is loaded with magnesium,  a mineral that’s significant for bone formation, heart health, and over 600 biochemical reactions in the body, such as energy production and protein metabolism.

Also, another study by Awika and Rooney (2004) found that eating Sorghum may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer in humans, mostly colorectal cancer, compared to other cereals. This is due to the high concentration of anti-inflammatory phytochemical antioxidants, including phenolic acids and flavonoids, found in this grain.

Another clinical trial by Anunciação et al.(2019) found that Sorghum contains tannins to reduce caloric accessibility and avert obesity, weight gain, and metabolic complications.  The study found that eating sorghum decreased fat percentage and increased dietary fiber intake juxtaposed to wheat consumption.

Sorghum phytochemicals also help promote cardiovascular health, which is critical considering that cardiovascular disease is currently on the increase in Ghana.


Not all grains, even whole grains, are best for everyone. For many people, eating grains (and beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds too) is an issue when it comes to digestion and can contribute to gastrointestinal issues.

Levy, J(2021) explained that one reason is that all grains naturally contain “antinutrients” that block some of the grain’s minerals and vitamins from being absorbed and utilized properly.

Levy further asserts that one can avert this issue by sprouting grains. “A major benefit of sprouting is that it unlocks beneficial digestive enzymes, which make all types of grains, seeds, beans, and nuts easier on the digestive system”.

It further aids beneficial flora levels in the gut, in other to experience less of an autoimmune type of reaction when you eat these foods.

She added: “Even after sprouting grains, it’s best to have them in small amounts and to vary your diets, such as by including plenty of vegetables, fruits, grass-fed animal products, and probiotic foods”.

For those with celiac disease or a severe gluten allergy, be sure to check that any flour you purchase is labeled gluten-free.

Take Home

Sorghum is rich in various nutrients, including B vitamins, which play an essential role in metabolism, nerve cell development, and healthy hair and skin.
The phenolic profile is particularly distinctive and more abundant and diverse than other common cereal grains, plus it offers other antioxidants like tannins and anthocyanins.
This grain offers health-protective properties, with the ability to lower cholesterol, inflammation, and oxidative stress. It may help fight heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other chronic diseases.


Prof. Nyarkotey has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations to justify his write-ups. My articles are for educational purposes and do not serve as Medical advice for Treatment. I aim to educate the public about evidence-based scientific Naturopathic Therapies.