Developing Healthy Foods from Special Sorghums

Project Details

  • Lloyd Rooney
  • Texas A&M & Mark Haub, KSU
  • $102,426
  • Year: 2009


Project Summary

This collaborative project consists of a carefully chosen team of scientists with the skills and experience required to provide fundamental and practical information on the unique health benefits that sorghum contains. Sorghum has a wide array of phytochemicals ranging from condensed tannins to flavones, flavanones, and rare the 3-deoxyanthocyanins that have significant potential use in foods and extracts.

Members of the team are highly experienced in starch, protein and their interactions in foods. We will concentrate on obtaining additional information on the apparent reduced digestibility of heat-modified sorghum. The condensed tannins reduce feed efficiency when fed to livestock but that is a positive for reduced-calorie diets for humans. We will confirm our recent data in which tannins heated with starch and sorghum endosperm reduced starch digestibility significantly. Thus, we can produce low- calorie foods that are suitable for weight-conscious humans and for type 2 diabetics. For the first time, we will obtain data on the glycemic index of these sorghum products.

Some sorghum varieties have very high levels of polyphenols, which include condensed tannins while others have high levels of 3-deoxyanthocyanins, which are rarely found in nature. The condensed tannins of sorghum have very high antioxidant power and significantly decrease the feed efficiency of sorghums for livestock, which means that they may have excellent properties for producing foods for diabetics and low caloric diets. We believe that tannins react with protein and starch to reduce hydrolysis and produce resistant starch. Therefore, this project proposes to measure the glycemic index (GI) of cooked products with and without tannins and other phytochemicals. Rats will be fed sorghum bran and whole grains to see if fat deposition is decreased by polyphenols.

Sorghum components for use in reducing inflammation and cancer risk will be evaluated with in vitro tests. Foods containing tannins and other phytochemicals will be analyzed to determine their anti-inflammatory properties. The use of different sorghums in processed foods is increasing significantly. The team of scientists represented in the project can provide excellent information on the various aspects of sorghum for use in health foods. The flour of sorghum behaves differently than corn, which we will attempt to understand in this project. Our efforts so far have established that special sorghums have outstanding properties for food utilization but we need significantly more information as proposed in this project.

Progress is being made in breeding to improve the properties of some of the most interesting sorghums to produce reliable levels of varieties with unique properties. Thus, sorghum breeders and others are important members of the team. Thus, we have the opportunity to improve the overall concept of sorghum into a positive image of “Hey it’s a Great FOOD GRAIN!” We have information in the pipeline that can be used to develop several brochures and fact sheets on sorghums related to whole grains, celiac foods, phytochemicals, and natural unique food colorants that can be developed during the first year.