Identification of the ‘prebiotic’ fraction of grain sorghum lipid extract

Project Details

  • Curt Well
  • University of Nebraska
  • $48,700
  • Year: 2009


Project Summary

Grain sorghum is a rich source of phytochemicals that could potentially benefit human health. Our group has shown that Grain Sorghum Lipid extract (GSL) included in the diet significantly improved the non-HDL/HDL cholesterol equilibrium of Syrian hamsters, a recognized animal model with cholesterol metabolism of humans (Carr et al., 2005). Furthermore, we have identified that GSL stimulates putative health promoting bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract of hamsters, and that alterations within the gut bacteria were strongly linked to improvements in cholesterol metabolism (Martínez et al., 2009). These studies provide evidence that modulation of the gut microbiota-host metabolic interrelationship using GSL extract has the potential to improve cholesterol homeostasis, which has relevance for cardiovascular health. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major problem in the United States and other developed countries in part due to unhealthy diet choices. Better diet choices including functional foods (i.e. fresh or processed foods claiming to contain nutraceuticals or have a health-promoting and/or disease-preventing property beyond the basic function of supplying nutrients), nutraceuticals (i.e. extracts of foods claiming to have a medicinal effect on human health) and prebiotics (i.e. non-digestible functional foods or food ingredients that stimulate the growth and/or activity of bacteria in the digestive system for the health of the body) offer the potential to reduce CVD-related disorders and save millions of dollars spent on associated health care costs. Our previous studies clearly demonstrate the great potential of GSL extract as a functional food ingredient to prevent CVD.

The research outlined in this proposal seeks to determine which fraction of GSL exerts a cholesterol lowering effect in hamsters and the mechanisms underlying this effect. This study will therefore provide important knowledge for the utilization of GSL extract as a functional food ingredient to improve human health. Once the role of GSL extract is better understood, markets for functional foods containing grain sorghum could open in not only developed countries but also in developing countries that have traditionally consumed sorghum-based food products. The proposed lipid research will complement the concurrently proposed starch digestion studies at Kansas State, cross-linking and sorghum-phenolic-based food preparation studies at the USDA-ARS GMPRC, and anti-oxidants and phenolics studies at Texas A&M. Together, results from the studies at the four research entities will provide more comprehensive knowledge on nutritional and health benefits of grain sorghum in the diet.