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Move Over Quinoa, There's a New Grain in Town That This Dietitian Is Loving

Sorghum is a whole grain that may provide helpful nutrients for gut health and heart health.
FACT CHECKED BY Samantha Boesch

It is no secret that grains are an important part of a healthy and balanced diet. From quinoa to brown rice, grains are certainly having a moment in the spotlight, thanks to their nutritional profile and versatility.

But while there are some choices that have become mainstream in popularity, there are others that deserve their moment to shine on our dinner plates too. Among the sea of grain options out there, sorghum is a grain that is newer to many of our kitchens, yet it has been used in certain African and Asian dishes for years. And it is certainly a grain that you should have on your radar.

Sorghum is a cereal grain that is circular in shape and firm in texture, even when cooked. And it can be enjoyed boiled, stewed, and even popped (yup, just like popcorn).

Here are some of the specific ways sorghum is a grain worth knowing and loving.

Sorghum is nutritious


Eating a diet rich in whole grains is a surefire way to include fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients in your daily life. And if you are trying to eat more whole grains, sorghum can be just what the doctor ordered.

When digging into the nutritional value of sorghum, it is easy to see just how nutritious this grain is. Whole grain sorghum is an excellent source of 12 essential nutrients, including iron and magnesium.

A serving of cooked whole grain sorghum provides more than double the amount of protein as a serving of quinoa, and a one cup serving of cooked whole grain sorghum has nearly double the iron of a 3-ounce sirloin steak. This grain is also an excellent source of zinc, a nutrient that may support immune health.

Eating sorghum may support heart health

Since heart disease is the #1 killer of Americans, it is no wonder people are focused on taking steps to support this aspect of their health. One way to do this is to manage chronic inflammation, as chronic inflammation is quite common among those with this heart-health condition. Sorghum appears to have anti-inflammatory benefits, which can help combat this effect and, in turn, may support your heart health.

Sorghum also has nutrients that are emphasized on the DASH diet, including magnesium, potassium, and calcium, which may support heart health too.

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It may also support digestive health

Fiber plays a key role in your digestive health. Whole grain sorghum is a naturally gluten-free grain, and half a cup of this grain provides more than 6 grams of fiber, which is nearly 25% of the recommended daily fiber intake.

Sorghum provides a variety of different fibers, from soluble to insoluble, as well as prebiotic fibers to help "fuel" live probiotics in your gut. In fact, recent studies have shown the potential prebiotic activity of whole grain sorghum in the form of polyphenols found in the bran of sorghum grain.

Sorghum is naturally gluten-free

Sorghum grain

Celiac is the most common autoimmune disease in the US. Among the many things people do to manage this disease, avoiding gluten is one of the main choices to make. And unlike eating traditional bread or pasta, eating sorghum is safe for those who are avoiding gluten in their diets.

According to results of one study that evaluated people with Celiac disease, feeding these participants sorghum-derived food products for five days did not result in any symptoms of intolerance, and the level of anti-transglutaminase antibodies was unmodified at the end of the five-day period, confirming that this grain is safe for gluten-free diets.

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Sorghum is a whole grain worth trying

Sorghum is an unsung hero in the grain world, and including it in your dishes can add a boost of nutty flavor and nutrition in a simple way. From adding it to soups, to enjoying it in taco dishes, to using it as a simple grain side dish, sorghum offers a lot in terms of nutrition, flavor, and versatility. So, try something new and enjoy the unique texture and flavor that sorghum has to offer.

Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, CPT
Lauren Manaker is an award-winning registered dietitian, book author, and recipe developer who has been in practice for almost 20 years. Read more about Lauren
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