A new UGA study has found that select varieties of sorghum bran have greater antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties than well-known foods such as blueberries and pomegranates.
Researchers measured polyphenolic compounds, which naturally occur in plants to help fight against pests and disease, and found that the black and sumac varieties of sorghum have significant levels of antioxidants. Many fruits also contain these compounds, they said, though sorghum bran may prove to be the richest and cheapest source.
“Since most human chronic disease states are associated with chronic inflammation and high oxidative stress, a food ingredient such as sorghum bran could potentially make certain processed foods better for a healthy diet,” said study co-author Diane Hartle, director of the UGA Nutraceutical Research Laboratory and an associate professor in the College of Pharmacy.
Hartle and her colleagues, whose results were published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, measured the degree to which extracts from four different varieties of sorghum reduced inflammation in mice.
They found that black and sumac varieties showed significantly higher levels of polyphenolic content and antioxidant levels than the two low-tannin varieties tested, which did not reduce inflammation.
The authors found that levels of polyphenolic compounds in the high-tannin sorghum varieties ranged from 23 to 62 milligrams of polyphenols per gram.
For comparison, blueberries contain approximately 5 milligrams of polyphenolics per gram, while pomegranate juice contains 2 to 3.5 milligrams per gram.
The U.S. is the largest producer of sorghum in the world. But most of the sorghum grown is a low-tannin variety that is fed to cattle and poultry or used to manufacture ethanol to fuel cars.