The Sorghum Checkoff hosted a Sorghum Food Workshop at the American Institute of Baking (AIB) in Manhattan, Kan., on June 2-3, 2010 to educate the baking industry about the benefits of sorghum as a health, whole grain and gluten-free solution.

“When we started the Sorghum Checkoff we knew we had to fund research to increase yields and profitability for sorghum producers,” said Bill Greving, chairman of the Sorghum Checkoff Board of Directors and sorghum producer from Prairie View, Kan. “We also knew we needed to market the crop if we produce it. We hope that some of sorghum’s characteristics will provide an avenue for it in the food market.”

More than 60 people attended the workshop and heard presentations on the use of sorghum in the gluten-free market, its low glycemic index, and several other research projects that are currently underway to bring more information about sorghum to the food market. Researchers also discussed sorghum’s high antioxidant levels, gluten-free properties and its possible potential in cancer prevention.

Those attending the seminar sampled foods made from sorghum by ADM, the American Institute of Baking and university researchers. Some of the treats included gluten-free bread, crackers, cookies, muffins, cakes, brownies, crunchy snacks and sandwich rounds, all made with sorghum. Participants also toured AIB and observed the making of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies.

“There is a lot of potential for the utilization of sorghum as a food,” said Lloyd Rooney, professor and researcher at Texas A&M University. “There are a lot of different types of sorghums we continue to find that are filled with healthy components.”

Rooney noted in his presentation that while most sorghums do not contain tannins; there are certain sorghums containing tannins that produce healthy foods. They are high in antioxidants and dietary fiber, and have a low glycemic index. Rooney said that because sorghum can be ground into gluten-free flour, it’s attractive to those with celiac disease.

Speakers discussed sorghum’s value in the health food market and its benefits to human health. Nancy Turner, associate professor at Texas A&M University, said her research found some sorghums are able to suppress early lesions that form in colon cancer with dietary compounds found in sorghum brans. She said if we could incorporate these sorghum brans and the bioactive compounds into a variety of foods, then it might be possible to have real health benefits to the population.

Other speakers included researchers Scott Bean and Jeff Wilson, both from the USDA-ARS in Manhattan, Kan., who discussed the digestibility of sorghum starch and proteins. Mark Haub, Fadi Aramouni, and Yong-cheng Shi, all Kansas State University researchers, discussed sorghum glycemic index testing, and milling and flour quality. Tim Carr of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, examined the health benefits from lipids in sorghum, which have potential for lowering “bad cholesterol levels.”

The United Sorghum Checkoff Program is a producer funded organization that is dedicated to improving the sorghum industry through research, promotion and education. For more information about the Sorghum Checkoff and other research projects please visit www.sorghumcheckoff.com.