Sorghum probably isn’t a food that’s sitting in your cupboard right now, but you’ve likely eaten (or drank) it before. This ancient whole grain is often used as an ingredient in a packaged foods, such as chips, snack bars, baking mixes, cereals, and even beer. It’s also naturally gluten-free and energy efficient, making it a good option for cyclists to know about.
Cooking it in its natural form is just as simple as whipping up a batch of brown rice, and it’s nutritious to boot. But before you add this grain to your repertoire, learn a little bit about the different forms, why it’s good for athletes, and how to incorporate it into your diet.
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What Is Sorghum?
Sorghum is an 8,000-year-old whole grain that is primarily grown in the U.S. “It’s actually been consumed across the world for years but is becoming more popular in the U.S. as more people are looking for gluten-free, whole-grain options,” says Angie Asche, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D. With its ability to efficiently utilize solar energy and withstand droughts, sorghum is also considered an environmentally-friendly crop.
Sorghum looks similar to couscous, and it has a nutty flavor profile. It comes in multiple varieties, including:
- Whole-grain sorghum, which is sorghum in its purest form. It looks like couscous, but has a slightly chewier texture.
- Pearled sorghum, which has the outside layer of the whole grain sorghum kernels removed, giving it a softer bite and less protein and fiber.
- Sorghum flour, which is milled sorghum that comes in two varieties: whole grain and white flour.
- Popped sorghum, which looks and tastes like popcorn, only slightly smaller.
- Sorghum syrup, which is a natural sweetener created from a sweet variety of sorghum. It has a dark color and consistency similar to molasses, but it’s milder in taste.
Why Should Athletes Eat Sorghum?
Sorghum is a great option for athletes, as it provides several nutrients important to all active people—protein, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and potassium, according to Asche. Protein is an essential part of post-workout muscle recovery, B vitamins and iron help transport energy throughout the body, and magnesium and potassium are electrolytes that are necessary for hydration.