Joseph M. Awika
Texas A&M University, Dept. of Soil and Crop Science/Dept. of Nutrition and Food Science, College Station, TX 77843, USA
Sorghum bioactives as functional and health promoting food ingredients
Sorghum contains an array of bioactive compounds, many of which are not commonly found in other cereal grains and other food plants. Among the components with demonstrated benefits in sorghum include polyphenols, bioactive lipids, and bioactive carbohydrates. Evidence, mostly in vitro and in vivo, suggest that sorghum, due to its bioactive composition, may be more beneficial against chronic disease like diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other inflammation-linked conditions, when compared to other grains. However, because the composition and content of the bioactive compounds, especially the polyphenols, can vary significantly depending on the genetic background of the sorghum, predicting the actual benefits of sorghum in humans is not clear cut. This is because the polyphenols play a disproportionately dominant role against inflammation and other central processes linked to chronic disease. Furthermore, the structure of the polyphenols has a major impact on their bioactivity. Thus there is an urgent need to invest in human studies that aim to demonstrate the specific benefits of sorghum and its bioactive components in disease prevention. Technologies that optimize use of sorghum components in mainstream foods to maximize their benefits, while improving food quality are also needed. The presentation will highlight the latest advances in our understanding of bioactive and functional properties of sorghum components and propose strategies to capture these benefits to improve human health.