Sorghum is an ancient cereal grain that originated in parts of Africa and Australia more than 5,000 years ago! The sorghum plant, a member of the grass plant family called Panicoideae, still provides nutrients and much-needed calories to impoverished populations living in these areas. While historically it’s taken a backseat in the U.S. to grain alternatives and sandwich substitutes like corn, quinoa or potatoes, the growing knowledge of gluten sensitivities and the gluten-free diet trend in recent years have now brought sorghum flour into the spotlight.
Like other whole grains, sorghum (which has the scientific name Sorghum bicolor L. Moench) is impressive when it comes to its nutrient content, adding a good dose of protein, iron, B vitamins and dietary fiber to recipes. Sorghum flour is also surprisingly high in antioxidants like phenolic compounds and anthocyanin, which help reduce inflammation and lower free radical damage.
Sorghum is an excellent substitute for wheat flour, and sorghum flour makes a great baking ingredient for anyone who cannot tolerate gluten. Sorghum is a good source of fiber- it actually doesn’t have an inedible hull like some other grains, so even its outer layers commonly are eaten. This means it supplies even more fiber, in addition to many other crucial nutrients, and has a lower glycemic index. Because sorghum flour is low on the glycemic index, plus high in starch, fiber and protein, it takes longer than other similar refined-grain products to digest. This slows down the rate at which glucose (sugar) is released into the bloodstream, which is particularly helpful for anyone with blood sugar issues such as diabetes.