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Food Focus: Sorghum

Sorghum, an ancient cereal grain which has been used for at least 5,000 years, has been gaining popularity among the gluten-free community. Commonly used as cattle feed in the U.S., sorghum is the fifth most produced grain in the world and a staple in Indian and African diets.

Nutritional attributes. Besides containing no gluten, this grain has many other nutritional attributes. It contains high levels of unsaturated fats, protein, fiber and minerals, including phosphorus, potassium, calcium and iron. Sorghum also contains more antioxidants than blueberries or pomegranates.

Cooking and baking. Sorghum is often found in gluten-free flours and baking products, but it has many uses. Its neutral flavor and light color allow it to absorb other flavors easily. Sorghum can be used as a base for various dishes, served as a topping, eaten like porridge, boiled like rice, popped like popcorn, and even used as malt in beer. It can also be a substitute for molasses, honey, corn or maple syrup in recipes.

Cooking tip. When using sorghum as a flour, it should be mixed with other flours for the best result. Using sorghum alone will result in dry, grainy baked goods.

Health impact. Certain phytochemicals found in sorghum are known to reduce the risk of colon and skin cancers. Other properties found in the grain are known to increase cardiovascular health and lower cholesterol. Sorghum consumption may also inhibit cancer tumor growth and may protect against diabetes.

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