Sorghum Flour Nutrition

by Gina Riggio

Sorghum is the fifth most important cereal grain worldwide, reports the Whole Grains Council. Historically used as feed for livestock in the United States, sorghum has recently become a player in the gluten-free food market, which targets consumers with celiac disease. Nutritious sorghum can replace wheat in breads, fermented and nonfermented beverages, cookies and tortillas.

Fat, Fiber and Protein

One serving of sorghum flour is approximately 3/4 cup. The calorie content of sorghum is comparable to that of wheat, rice and corn -- approximately 360 calories and 77 grams of total carbohydrate in each serving. At 7 grams of fiber per serving, it contains less fiber than wheat flour and cornmeal and more fiber than rice flour. It has 8 grams of protein per 3/4-cup serving, which is close to that of rice and cornmeal but less than wheat.

Vitamins and Minerals

Sorghum is typically eaten as a whole grain or ground into whole-grain flour, which means the hull or outer layer of the seed is left intact. The hull contains the bulk of the nutrients. Three-fourths cup contains 3 milligrams of iron and 12 micrograms of selenium. This meets around one-fifth of the recommended daily allowance for selenium, one-third of the RDA for iron for men and one-fifth of the RDA for iron for women. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, selenium may play a role in cancer prevention, while iron adequacy is especially important for women's health. As for vitamins, sorghum flour is an excellent source of niacin, providing 5 of the 16 milligrams required for the day. Like selenium, niacin may play a role in the prevention of cancer.

Phytochemical Content

Whole grains like sorghum contain classes of phytochemicals -- plant-based chemical compounds -- called tannins, anthocyanins and phenolic compounds. These are suspected to have antioxidant activity in the body, interacting with enzymes to remove damaging free radicals in a process that can prevent disease. Research shows that the tannins found in sorghum rival the antioxidant activity of fruits and vegetables.

Food Applications

Sorghum can usually replace regular flour or whole-grain seeds in foods such as muffins, cookies, cakes, pizza crust, bread, waffles and tabbouleh salad. The most important thing to keep in mind when preparing food with sorghum is that because it does not contain the gluten, a "binder" is needed to give the final product cohesion and stretch. Binders can include xanthan gum, egg whites, unflavored gelatin, cornstarch or guar gum. For example, add 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum per cup of sorghum flour when substituting it in recipes.

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About the Author

Gina Riggio is a research technician in a molecular genomics laboratory at a large research university. She is also a registered dietetic technician with a background in long-term care and special dietary needs. Riggio earned a bachelor's degree in nutritional sciences from Penn State University.