Jowar ‘Sorghum’ Flour Health Benefits and Side-effects

Jowar (S. Bicolor), called Sorghum in English, Cholam in Tamil, Jolal in Kannada, Jwari in Marathi and Jonna in Telugu, is a crop of the drylands, which receive less rainfall and are not well irrigated. The origin of Sorghum is believed to be in the northeastern African region. The earliest archaeological evidence of growing Sorghum is found at Nabta Playa which is at Sudanese-Egyptian border about 10000 years back.  

There are around 25 to 30 species of this crop and 17 of these are native to Australia. As a food grain, S. Bicolor variety is grown and consumed in Africa, Central America and South Asia.

In India, this millet crop is grown in peninsular and central India in the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. 

Jowar is consumed as whole grain, flour, rava and dalia in all parts of the country. It is used to make bhakri, theplas, paranthas, khakras, muthias, dhokli etc.


Jowar ‘Sorghum’ Varieties

Jowar is used as a food grain, as fodder, as biofuel and for syrups. For each of these, different varieties of jowar are cultivated.

1/4. Grain Sorghum/Jowar– The grain sorghum comes in different colours- red, orange, bronze, tan, white, and black varieties. Out of these, tan, cream or white sorghum grain is made into atta, or flour. Black and burgundy colour varieties are rich in beneficial anti-oxidants and is used in food applications. Other varieties are versatile and have widespread usage.

2/4. Fodder Sorghum– This variety is used for grazing pasture, silage and green-chop. It is used for feeding livestock.

3/4. Biomass Sorghum– This is the tallest sorghum variety as it grows to about 20 feet. It produces large amount of non-grain biomass.

4/4. Sweet Sorghum-This is basically grown for its stalk, and not for grain. It is crushed like sugarcane to produce syrup. Sweet sorghum is used as a sweetener.


Nutritional Composition of Jowar

Jowar has nutrition composition as given in the table below…

Nutrition Facts Serving Size 100 g
Calories329
Total Fat3.5g
Saturated Fat0.6g
Total Carbohydrate 72g
Dietary Fiber6.7g
Sugar2.5g
Protein11g
Calcium   13.00mg
Iron3.36mg
Potassium363mg
Sodium2mg
Thiamine 0.35mg
Riboflavin0.14mg
Niacin2.1mg
Folate39.42mg

1/5. Gluten-free 

Gluten is a protein which is present in some cereal grains such as wheat. It is responsible for the stickiness in the wheat dough. Some people are sensitive to this protein and they develop allergic reaction on its consumptions. People with Celiac diseases are also prohibited to consume gluten food grains. 

Since Jowar does not have gluten content, it is safe for consumption by these people and it give a good alternative to gluten-based food grains.


2/5. Rich in Fiber

Jowar food grain and flour made from it is rich in fiber. The benefit of having high fiber in diet is that it helps the digestive and excretory function (ease of food and bowel movement), regulates blood sugar levels (slow digestion permits insulin secretions to match), prevents cardiovascular disease and helps in weight loss (by improving satiety).


3/5. Good in Iron content

Presence of iron in jowar makes it good for improving hemoglobin in blood. To work effectively, this needs to combine with Vitamin C.


4/5. Rich in Anti-oxidants

Jowar has good composition of anti-oxidants. These are present in the form of phytochemicals, such as phenolic acids, tannins, and anthocyanin. Anthocyanin quantity present in Jowar is many times more than in other food grains. These help in removing free radicals formed in the body which can cause inflammation and a number of chronic diseases, such as cancer. 


5/5. Jowar is Alkaline in nature

Jowar flour is alkaline in nature and this makes it a counter against acidity. People who have problem of frequent acidity can adopt jowar rich diet to reduce the impact of acidity.

As per the tradition of Ayurveda, Jowar is ‘madhura’ and ‘kashya’ in rasa. It can pacify Vata and Kaph Dosha. It has an inherent cold potency (Sheeta Virya).


Potential Health Benefits of Jowar

1/9. Improves Heart Health

Phytochemicals (antioxidants) present in jowar flour are good at reducing LDL cholesterol levels. Along with these compounds, the vitamins and mineral (particularly iron and magnesium) are helpful in reducing these bad cholesterol levels, which helps improve blood circulation thereby improving the heart health. 


2/9. Can prevents Anemia

With Iron and copper nutrients present in Jowar flour, it is good for improving hemoglobin levels in blood. Copper helps in absorption of iron in body, promotes overall cell growth and repair. It helps in circulation of blood as well. With these special qualities, it is useful in preventing anaemia. People with reducing levels of haemoglobin should take jowar flour in diet.


3/9. Regulates blood sugar level

Jowar has low glycemic index, high fiber and good amount of protein content. The bran of jowar is rich in tannin enzymes that have the ability to reduce the absorption of sugar and starch in the body. All of these nutrients makes it a good food grain for diabetics.


4/9. Provides Energy to Body

Jowar is rich in Vitamin B3 or Niacin, which is a vitamin considered to be good for boosting the metabolism of the body. Also, it is rich in carbohydrates which also provide energy.


5/9. Helps in Digestive Process

Due to high fiber composition Sorghum ‘jowar’ flour slows the digestive process, eases smooth movement of food through intestines and prevents bloating, flatulence, diarrhoea and general stomach aches.


6/9. Promotes Weight Loss

Presence of insoluble fiber in jowar delays digestion process, reduces hunger pangs which results in reduction in calorie intake and this automatically leads to reduction in weight.


7/9. Help improve Bone Health

Jowar flour helps in improvement of bone health as it is naturally fortified with Calcium and magnesium; two nutrients crucial for bone health. Magnesium enhances absorption of calcium in body.


8/9. Can help Prevent Cancer

Due to presence of anti-oxidants, sorghum flour removes free radicals in body. The darker coloured sorghum has 3-DXA compounds which is known to help in preventing cancer, particularly, oesophagus, stomach, intestinal and colon cancers.


9/9. Can help improve Mood

Since it contains Vitamin B6 which plays significant role in production of neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), it improves nerve impulses. GABA helps in improving the mood, concentration, relaxation and does away with depression. 


Side-effects of Sorghum ‘Jowar’

1/4. One must note that the grain shall be taken from the mature plant of sorghum. The immature plant of jowar can be poisonous because of presence of hydrogen cyanide.

2/4. People can have itchiness, redness of skin or swelling in any part of the body on consumption of jowar or jowar flour. It is recommended to stop its consumption immediately when adverse reactions surface.

3/4. People who have fluctuating blood sugar levels are requested not to consume it in large amounts as it has a tendency to reduce the sugar levels.

4/4. Overeating of jowar can also lead to stomach ache and diarrhea since it is high in fiber content. Eating too much of it can affect adversely by creating too much lubrication in intestines.

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