Health Benefits of Sorghum
Sorghum May Inhibit Cancer Tumor Growth
Compounds in sorghum called 3-Deoxyanthoxyanins (3-DXA) are present in darker-colored sorgums, and to a lesser extent in white sorghum. Scientists at the University of Missouri tested extracts of black, red, and white sorghums and found that all three extracts had strong antiproliferative activity against human colon cancer cells.
Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry. 2009 Mar 11;57(5):1797-804
Sorghum May Protect Against Diabetes and Insulin Resistance
Advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) are increasingly implicated in the complications of diabetes. A study from the University of Georgia Neutraceutical Research Libraries showed that sorghum brans with a high phenolic content and high anti-oxidant properties inhibit protein glycation, whereas wheat, rice or oat bran, and low-phenolic sorghum bran did not. These results suggest that “certain varieties of sorghum bran may affect critical biological processes that are important in diabetes and insulin resistance.”
Phytotherapy Research. 2008 Aug;22(8):1052-6
Sorghum is Safe for People with Celiac Disease
Up to one percent of the U.S. population (and about ½% worldwide) is believed to have Celiac Disease, an autoimmune reaction to gluten proteins found in wheat, barley and rye. While sorghum has long been thought safe for celiacs, no clinical testing had been done until researchers in Italy made a study. First, they conducted laboratory tests; after those tests established the likely safety, they fed celiac patients sorghum-derived food products for five days. The patients experienced no symptoms and the level of disease markers (anti-transglutaminase antibodies) was unchanged at the end of the five-day period.
Clinical Nutrition. 2007 Dec;26(6):799-805. Epub 2007 Aug 24
Sorghum May Help Manage Cholesterol
Scientists at the University of Nebraska observed that sorghum is a rich source of phytochemicals, and decided to study sorghum’s potential for managing cholesterol. They fed different levels of sorghum lipids to hamsters for four weeks, and found that the healthy fats in sorghum significantly reduced “bad” (non-HDL) cholesterol. Reductions ranged from 18% in hamsters fed a diet including 0.5% sorghum lipids, to 69% in hamsters fed a diet including 5% sorghum lipids. “Good” (HDL) cholesterol was not affected. Researchers concluded that “grain sorghum contains beneficial components that could be used as food ingredients or dietary supplements to manage cholesterol levels in humans.”
Journal of Nutrition. 2005 Sep;135(9):2236-40
Advantages of Sorghum over Maize in South African Diets
Sorghum has been widely consumed as a staple food and in beverages throughout Africa. More recently, corn has replaced sorghum in some areas. Researchers from the University of Witwatersrand Medical School in South Africa believe that “the change of the staple diet of Black South Africans from sorghum to maize (corn) is the cause of the epidemic of squamous carcinoma of the esophagus.” They link the cancers to Fusarium fungi that grow freely on maize but are far less common on sorghum and note that “countries in Africa, in which the staple food is sorghum, have a low incidence of squamous carcinoma of the esophagus.”
Medical Hypotheses. 2005;64(3):658-60
Antioxidants in Sorghum High Relative to other Grains and to Fruits
Joseph Awika and Lloyd Rooney, at Texas A&M University, conducted an extensive review of scores of studies involving sorghum, and concluded that the phytochemicals in sorghum “have potential to signiciantly impact human health.” In particular, they cited evidence that sorghum may reduce the risk of certain cancers and promote cardiovascular health. Click here to download the full paper.
Phytochemistry. 2004 May;65(9):1199-221
Sorghum May Help Treat Human Melanoma
Scientists in Madrid studied the effect of three different components from wine and one from sorghum, to gauge their effects on the growth of human melanoma cells. While results were mixed, they concluded that all four components (phenolic fractions) “have potential as therapeutic agents in the treatments of human melanoma” although the way in which each slowed cancer growth may differ.
Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry. 2001 Mar;49(3):1620-4