Research at Curtin University, led by Dr Stuart Johnson and supported by ARC Linkage Projects scheme funding, has discovered that a grain used mainly in animal feed contains properties that not only provide nutritional benefits to humans, but also have the potential to help combat one of the world’s fastest growing chronic conditions, type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Sorghum is a grass or cereal grain similar to wheat. It is considered to be a low-value grain and is predominantly used in animal feed. It has slow starch digestibility, thus reducing energy intake, and high levels of polyphenolics—commonly known as ‘antioxidants’—that may assist in reducing the progression of chronic diseases.

In a collaboration with the University of Wollongong and industry partner organisation Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing, researchers screened the starch digestibility and antioxidant levels of particular sorghum varieties.

Using selected grains, Sanitarium developed sorghum-based flaked breakfast cereals, which were lab-tested for their antioxidants and digestibility.

Four different kinds of breakfast cereals—made from wheat and white, brown and red sorghum varieties—were then tested to monitor appetite, antioxidant capacity of the blood serum and blood glucose levels for glycaemic index, all of which are protective against chronic disease.

The research outcomes informed the development of Sanitarium’s first-ever staple food made entirely from sorghum,and has laid the foundation for the creation of more sorghum-based products that promote healthy eating, particularly for those at risk of developing diabetes.

Image: Curtin University Associate Professor Stuart Johnson.
Image credit:
Curtin University.