Americans are Rediscovering Sorghum
By: Lanier Dabruzzi, MS, RD, LD
This June, celebrate Sorghum Month by rediscovering The Grain That Gives™.
Over the last few years, sorghum has grown in popularity as a healthy, versatile food in the U.S., but it has been a food staple around the world for thousands of years. In fact, sorghum is the fifth most important cereal grain crop in the world, largely because it grows well in an array of environments. The United States is currently the world’s largest producer of grain sorghum, having produced approximately 448 million bushels in 2021.
Sorghum comes in many forms and applications that can elevate any meal or snack. Whole grain sorghum comes in a variety of colors that span white, black and burgundy hues. One of the exciting areas of emerging research for sorghum is showing that the darker the grain, the more antioxidant properties. Whole grain sorghum can be cooked on the stovetop, slow cooker or pressure cooker and is perfect for side dishes, as an addition to soups and stews or as a base of grain bowls.
Sorghum flour is made by grinding sorghum grain to a fine powder that can be used in place of wheat flour for baking for a naturally gluten-free replacement. Sorghum even comes in flaked and as milled bran, which are wonderful, crunchy additions to cereal and granola. Popped sorghum is a delightfully small pop that provides a nutty crunch without worry of getting stuck in your teeth.
Unlike other grains, sorghum holds up well when frozen and reheats to its original state. Due to cross-linkages between the protein and starch, sorghum can be frozen and reheated without losing its great taste and texture. You can make sorghum in advance with different stocks and spices, then freeze it for future use for an easy way to add sorghum to your weekly meal plan.
The nutrition profile that sorghum provides is hard to beat. A serving of whole grain sorghum is an excellent source of 12 essential nutrients, more than a serving of corn, wheat, oats, rice, or quinoa.
Sorghum stands out among plant-based sources of protein and comparable grains. A serving of cooked whole grain sorghum provides 10 grams of protein– more than double the amount of protein as a serving of quinoa and nearly double the iron as a 3-ounce portion of a beef sirloin steak.
The public has become more interested than ever about how the food they eat affects their health and consumers seeking out foods that help promote well-being. Enter sorghum. A serving of cooked whole grain sorghum is an excellent source of protein, zinc, selenium, and copper, which may contribute to a healthy immune system. Equally important, research has shown a correlation between sorghum consumption and decreased risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Looking to the future, sorghum is poised for success in the food space due to its versatility and nutrition profile. It is an exciting time to be part of #TeamSorghum.
The United Sorghum Checkoff Program is a producer-funded organization that is dedicated to improving the sorghum industry through research, promotion and education. For more information about the USCP and other research projects please visit www.sorghumcheckoff.com.