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Sorghum: A Cancer-Fighting Grain

The less commonly known grain sorghum is also known as guinea corn and milo. Because it is relatively drought resistant, sorghum is usually grown in places that are hot and dry, where typical corn cannot grow. This makes sorghum an important grain for people who live in areas of the world that have little rain, such as in Africa and India. Sorghum in these countries is a staple grain for millions of people.

sorghum_grains_picWhile it is not uncommon for many in the U.S. today to be unaware of sorghum, it is a grain that has been used for thousands of years in Africa and India and is the fifth leading grain crop in the world today. The majority of the sorghum crop today is used for the feeding of livestock, but in Africa and many parts of Asia, sorghum is still a staple used in a variety of the foods consumed in these two countries. In Africa, sorghum is even used to produce beer!

Similarly to wheat and corn, sorghum is in the grass family, and it actually looks very much like traditional corn when it is young, but is considerably different when fully grown. There are four different types of sorghum grown and cultivated for use today: grain, grass, sweet, and broomcorn. Grain sorghum is used to make grains, grass is used for animals, sweet is used to produce syrups and sugar, and broomcorn is used for its stiff branches to make brooms.

The end of the stalk of the sorghum plant opens up to reveal hundreds of “berries” that range in color from white to brown or red. These berries are typically the portion eaten by humans, and also by animals. The white sorghum berry has been used for many years in making breads. More recently, new varieties of sorghum have been developed that are more colorful and provide higher amounts of phytochemicals (strong antioxidants responsible for giving foods their color). These are used in a variety of cereals, baked goods, and snack foods. These new sorghum varieties also have greater ability to resist drought.

sorghum_red_field_grain_harvest_picNutritionally, sorghum is fairly similar to that of wheat, though it does not have the gluten. Sorghum is high in complex carbohydrates and is a fairly good source of quality protein. Furthermore, this gluten-free grain is a great source of fiber (mainly insoluble fiber), and vitamins B1, B2, B3, and the minerals iron and potassium. Research is now finding that sorghum contains tannins, compounds that are great for helping to combat cancer. Additionally, sorghum is abundant in certain phytochemicals known as phenols, which strongly help to prevent cancer by blocking the initiation, promotion, and progression of several types of cancer, including colon, lung, and breast cancers, which are the top cancer killers in America today.

But sorghum doesn't stop there; it has two other kinds of phenols, called phenolic acids and flavonoids (including tannins and anthocyanins), that are very strong antioxidants have particularly been noted to stop cardiovascular disease, which is a big and growing problem in the U.S. today. The anthocyanins found in sorghum are not typically found in other grains, which is unfortunate, because these compounds are very powerful antioxidants particularly strong at fighting free radical damage in the lungs. They also help to decrease the size of tumors, lower high cholesterol, help the functioning of vitamin C, strengthen collagen, and help protect eyesight. Interestingly, some varieties of sorghum have shown to be even higher in anthocyanins than blueberries, which is a well-known source for the healthful compound.

Not only does sorghum have these amazing phenols that protect against cancer, but they have a list of other phytochemicals that have great antioxidant and anticancer properties, such as gallic acid, caffeic acid, and ferulic acid.

sorghum_grain_plant_field_picSorghum is a great gluten-free alternative, not only because it doesn't contain the gluten, but because of its wonderful nutritional profile, and makes for a great food for those dealing with Celiac, autism, food allergies, and gluten sensitivity. Sorghum can be used as a substitute for about fifty percent of the wheat flour called for in baked goods without affecting the flavor or the texture of the food. Sorghum can be found in a variety of products on the market today, including flours, cereals, and other baked goods. Like other grains, sorghum should be kept in a cool and dry place to prevent the oils it contains from going rancid.

Coconut Sorghum Pancakes


1/4 c. flax meal 1/2 c. hot water 1/4 c. arrowroot powder 2/3 c. coconut flour 2 c. sorghum flour

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