A Summary of Sorghum's Effects on Health Outcomes
Updated: Feb 26
Sorghum is an ancient grain likely originating in Africa but is now grown in many parts of the world. It is high in protein and dietary fiber, rich in antioxidants, and gluten-free.
Over the years, studies have investigated the health benefits of sorghum. Some of the studied health benefits include cancer growth inhibition, blood glucose health, management of healthy cholesterol, and its consumption as a grain safe for people with Celiac Disease. (www.wholegrainscouncil.org). The bioactive compounds in sorghum (proanthocyanidins, 3-deoxyanthocyanidins, and flavones) are what researchers believe account for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
The aim of this review was to “evaluate the health effects associated with the consumption of sorghum among humans.” The reviewed literature suggested that sorghum’s nutritional properties could play a role in the management of chronic diseases. Some of the health outcomes assessed in this article include: the effect of sorghum consumption on blood glucose, cancer, oxidative stress, and immune function.
Studies summarized in the article demonstrated “favorable glycemic responses induced by the consumption of sorghum.” They concluded a number of factors could have contributed to the favorable glycemic response, such as type of food and degree pf processing, presence and digestibility of starch, and dietary fiber content. Also, higher levels of polyphenols found in sorghum could have influenced glycemic outcomes.
Results from research summarized in the article found that sorghum intake and cancer prevention and improvement were not as conclusive as results in other research studies regarding sorghum consumption. However, animal and in-vitro tests have shown that “polyphenolic compounds present in whole-grain sorghum can inhibit the proliferation of breast cancer cells.”
Studies have shown that sorghum is high in antioxidants which can reduce oxidative stress on the body. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between free radical activity and antioxidant activity. Too many free radicals, not enough antioxidants to keep them in balance. Normally, free radicals can help fight off pathogens. When there are too many free radicals not kept in balance by antioxidants, they no longer help but rather start doing damage to fatty tissue, DNA, and proteins in your body. Too much damage can lead to diseases such as cancer, diabetes. atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, and neurodegenerative diseases, like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s (healthline.com/health/oxidative-stress).
This section of the summary addressed HIV treatment options for patients living in Africa. Traditionally, HIV is treated with antiretroviral therapy, but this option is only available to about 37% of HIV-positive patients living in Africa. More easily accessible options with similar levels of efficacy are needed. One such example, is a commercially available dietary supplement made from sorghum called Jobelyn. Patients taking Jobelyn did have significant increases in CD4+ T-cell counts and that it boosted the effect of antiretroviral therapy.
While sorghum is a staple food in Asia and Africa, it has only recently surfaced as a main food source in the developed world. More exciting research is being done to help us understand sorghum’s potential health benefits.
Click link for full sorghum health outcome summary: https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/article/74/11/690/2281653