What Are the Health Benefits of Sorghum?

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Sorghum plants. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Sorghum grain make up one of the major grain crops in the United States, reports Purdue University, and works well as a food for humans and livestock. Because it's gluten-free, sorghum grains offer a safe alternative to wheat if you follow a gluten-free diet. Consuming sorghum also boosts your nutrient intake, and the grains offer health benefits because of their impressive nutritional profile.

It's Rich in Calories and Macronutrients

Each serving of sorghum -- a quarter-cup of dry grains -- contains 163 calories. If you follow a 2,000-calorie diet, this provides approximately 8 percent of your calorie intake of for the day. Sorghum is rich in carbohydrates -- each serving contains 36 grams of total carbohydrates, including 3 grams of fiber. Because of its fiber content, sorghum promotes digestive health, and -- combined with other fiber-rich foods as part of a high-fiber diet -- fights cardiovascular disease and aids in blood sugar control. Sorghum also contains 1.6 grams of fat and 5.4 grams of protein per serving.

Benefits Your Metabolism

Consuming sorghum benefits your health, thanks to its magnesium and copper content. Magnesium contributes to healthy bone tissue and regulates your body's calcium levels, while copper boosts your immune system and promotes red blood development. Both minerals also play a role in your metabolism and help your cells produce useable energy. A serving of sorghum offers 91 milligrams of magnesium and 518 micrograms of copper. This provides 58 percent of your daily copper requirement, determined by the Institute of Medicine, as well as 22 and 28 percent of the recommended daily magnesium intake for men and women, respectively.

Helps Support Your Metabolism

Adding sorghum to your diet also helps you consume more iron and niacin, or vitamin B-3. Like copper and magnesium, iron and niacin support your metabolism -- iron aids in fuel production, and niacin helps you break down and metabolize nutrients into energy. Niacin and iron also support healthy circulation, and iron plays a role in immune function. Each serving of sorghum provides 2.1 milligrams of iron and 1.4 milligrams of niacin. This makes up 12 percent of the daily recommended iron intake and 10 percent of the daily niacin intake, recommended by the Institute of Medicine, along with 26 and 9 percent of the daily recommended intakes of iron and niacin, respectively, for men.

It's Tasty in Baked Goods, Salads and More

Use sorghum flour in place of wheat flour for gluten-free baking -- its mild flavor works well in breads, wraps, muffins and other baked goods. Alternatively, cook whole sorghum grains in water to use in place of other grains in recipes. Combine sorghum with your favorite chopped veggies, fresh herbs in a lemon-juice vinaigrette for a hearty salad, toss a handful of cooked sorghum into a bowl of soup before serving, or ladle stir-fries or stews over a bed of sorghum grains, instead of rice.

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