Category Archives: Health Benefits

Health Benefits of Sorghum

In the US, sorghum is a crop that most people associate with livestock feed and syrup products. However, there is a growing movement towards alternative foods that improve the health while overcoming certain issues that many people have with traditional cereal grains. Ancient grains have a new role in improving dietary needs, and the health benefits of sorghum provide a potent alternative to those who are gluten sensitive.

Gluten-Free Diets

With the increased recognition of celiac disease which affects about 1 in 100 people, or up to 60,000 Americans, there has been a renewed interest in alternative crops that provide a gluten-free diet. Sorghum is one of the key cereal crops in this movement upwards of 3 million people who have not been diagnosed with celiac disease as well as providing a number of other healthy benefits.

In addition to those who are sensitive to gluten, there are also other benefits to eating a gluten-free diet. This includes those who suffer from autism, irritable bowel syndrome, and ADHD who are reporting benefits from going gluten-free. Sorghum provides many people with a healthy, tasty alternative to traditional gluten-based products.

Even the wax that surrounds the sorghum grain contains elements that may have a positive impact on the heart. Combined with the gluten-free attributes and the fact that sorghum itself is non-GMO in nature has helped place this particular cereal product as one that is on the rise in terms of providing benefits for our health.

Antioxidants

In addition to providing a healthy alternative to gluten-based grains, sorghum is also high in antioxidants which help fight the aging process. Antioxidants suppress the free radicals in the body which can cause premature aging of the skin, hair and nails. Furthermore, there is evidence to show that antioxidants are effective in preventing certain forms of cancer from forming.

By eating a diet rich in antioxidants, the skin becomes softer and suppler, the hair become less brittle and the nails become harder. These are the visible effects of antioxidants, but the internal effects may do more to protect the overall health of the body. In addition to the positive effects on preventing cancer, sorghum also may lower the risk of contracting diabetes, heart disease and certain neurological diseases as well.

Good Source of Protein, Fiber and Iron

In addition to the other benefits, sorghum is also rich in protein, fiber and iron. Protein helps build muscle tissue and along with exercise and a healthy diet can burn more excess fat. Iron also provides a valuable nutrient for the body which can lead to better overall health while fiber is excellent for the digestive system.

The versatility of sorghum is now being seen more in the US market as a viable alternative to the gluten-based cereal grains that once were dominant. Sorghum is now being used in all types of food products, providing a tasty, slightly sweet alternative from beverages to cookies and more. The number of dishes and recipes that use sorghum alternatives is growing day by day

Overall, sorghum is providing to be a very healthy grain that is not only good for livestock, but humans as well. As a gluten-free alternative, sorghum is quickly becoming more popular with those who are looking to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Sorghum as a Food Crop

While most people in the US are familiar with sorghum as a food crop for livestock, the truth is that sorghum is used around the world for humans as well. Currently, sorghum is the fifth most important cereal crop in the world behind wheat, rice, maize and potatoes. However, as more people are discovering the benefits of sorghum, interest in the crop is rising as part of the human diet.

Sorghum dates back to about 8000 BC as remains have been found in the Mabta Playa archaeological site in southern Egypt, making this one of the most ancient grains that humans have consumed. In the US, sorghum is mostly grown in the central plains stretching from South Dakota down to Texas. About 7.7 million acres of sorghum was planted in 2007, making the US the largest producer of sorghum in the world.

The Advantages of Sorghum

There are many advantages for sorghum as a crop that can be used for a number of different purposes. From livestock crops to those that produce ethanol plants for alternative fuel consumption, sorghum has proven its value. But as a food crop, sorghum has many uses as well.

Hearty Crop: One of the biggest advantages of sorghum is that it is adaptable enough to grow in most climates with little difficulty. Sorghum is a drought-tolerant crop that is often grown in places where other types of cereals cannot grow. Sorghum is a sturdy, hardy crop than can be found all over the world.

Gluten-Free: There is no gluten in sorghum, making it the perfect grain for people who have celiac disease. Sorghum has emerged as a nutrient-rich ancient grain with multiple health benefits as compared to modern grains, such as wheat. Gluten intolerance has given rise to the use of sorghum as a primary alternative crop in the creation of gluten-free foods, and people with gluten sensitivity generally like the variety and texture of sorghum.

Neutral Substitute: Sorghum has a very light, sweet flavor that makes it quite adaptable and useful in creating many different types of dishes. Because it absorbs other flavors well, sorghum is often considered like tofu in that regard. Because sorghum doesn’t have gluten, another “binding” ingredient such as cornstarch or xanthan gum is used to add “stretch” to the product. However, it does work very well for a wide variety of recipes, including breads, pizzas, cookies, cakes and many others.

The Value of Sorghum

Although mostly used as livestock feed in the US, many people are aware that sorghum is also used for syrups made from the juice in stalks of certain varieties of this cereal product. The US produced a white colored grain of sorghum, called “Food Grain Sorghums” that are grown on tan plants which produces light colored glumes. This produces a gluten-free flour that is incorporated in many cereal products and is currently being studied for its health benefits.

It is those with celiac disease, the inability to absorb gluten, where sorghum is having its biggest impact on people in the US. Because celiac disease causes many issues, such as the inability to absorb nutrients and dehydration, the increased interest in sorghum is definitely on the rise. Since sorghum has no known negative side effects, it can be used as an effective substitute for gluten-based products in a wide variety of circumstances.

Every day, sorghum is becoming a more popular food product for use in a variety of situations. What was just once for livestock in the US has now progressed to becoming a very popular alternate food source.

Understanding the Difference Between Blackstrap Molasses and Sorghum Syrup

Cane sorghum is the juice of the plant, Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench, a grass technically, that is boiled down and clarified to make a syrup used as a natural sweetener. Sorghum syrup is darker than honey, with a flavor that is deeper, like caramel with notes of vanilla, coffee and leather. It’s not as bitter as blackstrap molasses, a by-product of making crystallized cane sugar, that’s often plagued by a burnt tar aftertaste. The sorghum syrup is a mild flavored thick syrup, which is an economical alternative..

Harvesting Sorghum Cane

Juicing the cane from the crushed stalks is a mechanized process, but in the past, the cane juice was squeezed out with big rollers pushed by mules. That’s why you’ll sometimes see a quaint bottle of sorghum with a mule painted on it.  Now the cane is brought in through large conveyor belts, and it can be milled using hydraulic pressure rollers. The juice is filtered properly to clear off the impurities and then it’s heated in a pan to form a thick concentrate as it transforms into an amber – brown color with the viscosity of honey. It can be a light amber to a roasted brown color, depending on the time of year and the producer; it’s all a matter of preference (darker syrup is sometimes inaccurately referred to as sorghum molasses). The juice may be boiled in large pans that have partitions so the syrup slowly snakes its way down the chute while being clarified.

Sorghum Syrup Foaming While Canning

It is quite normal for sorghum syrup to foam while bottling or canning. There are such old-timer methods used by mountain natives for judging the end product. ‘Tater-hilling’ is when it gets hot foam bubbles the size of potatoes, and smaller ‘sheep’s-eye’ or ‘frog’s-eye’ bubbles appear right before the molasses is ready to come off the stove.

Difference between Blackstrap Molasses and Sorghum Syrup

Blackstrap Molasses is the by-product of processing sugar cane into sugar. The sugar cane juice is extracted from the cane by crushing or mashing, and the juice is boiled to concentrate it, which produces crystallization of the sugar. The first boiling and removal of sugar crystals is called “first molasses” (mild) and is sweetest. “Second molasses” (dark) is created from second boiling and removal of crystals. “Blackstrap” is the result of a third boiling of the syrup and is considered bittersweet. The blackstrap molasses has high nutrition content in comparison with the regular molasses. It is rich in vitamin D, B6 and minerals iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, manganese and magnesium, and it has low sugar content as the major portion of the concentration gets converted into dry sugar.

Sorghum “Molasses” Health Benefits

The syrup is very high in natural sugar ingredients as in the case of sorghum canes. It is a very nutritious food free from any sort of chemical preservatives or additives. This sort of syrup can be further heated to form dry sugar. The sorghum syrup is traditionally used as a baking sweetener, and it can be used anywhere you need sweetness with an extra layer of flavor: BBQ sauces, braising liquid or glazes, soups, marinades, pickling liquid, simple syrup, or cocktails. In the south, sorghum syrup is poured on hot biscuits, and many people drizzle it straight over ice cream or berries.

The sorghum syrup is very high in calorie content. About ¼ cup of the syrup has 239 calories and amount to as much as 61 gm of sugar. The syrup is good for the bones and teeth as it has 12% of calcium, 17.5% iron, 28% of vitamin B6, 24% potassium and has many other vital minerals that are present in molasses. Molasses are comparatively low in calorie value compared to the syrup.  Sorghum syrup is also a good source of phosphorus, magnesium, thiamin and omega 6 fatty acids.

Caution

All Sorghum products and by products are very high in sugar content. People suffering from obesity and diabetes should avoid high intake as it may lead to weight gain and give rise to the high blood sugar levels.