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  • Gryphon Myers
    Gryphon Myers

    Research with Sorghum Could Yield Better Gluten-Free Food

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Caption: Photo: CC -- Swathi Sridharan

    Celiac.com 07/25/2012 - While a great deal of progress has been made with gluten-free food over the last ten years, many celiacs still feel that they are 'missing out' on gluten-containing foods. Fadi Aramouni, professor of food science at Kansas State University is working to change this through extensive research and testing on sorghum, as well as other wheat alternatives.

    Photo: CC -- Swathi SridharanSorghum is an appealing alternative to wheat because it is already widely produced in the United States (it is primarily used as feed). The problem is that sorghum is different from wheat, and requires different processing methods to yield food products that are comparable to their wheat counterparts.

    Aramouni and his team of students and researchers began their search for a non-gluten wheat substitute by carefully inspecting the six varieties of sorghum that are grown in Kansas. Qualities such as grain hardness, dough quality, stretching and rolling qualities, protein, carbohydrates and fiber content as well as taste and look of the finished product were all considered.

    According to Aramouni, this stage of their research yielded an important discovery: the milling stage dramatically alters the properties of sorghum flour. Different particle sizes yield different results, so the consistency and taste of sorghum-based foods can be modulated before they are even prepared or cooked.

    In addition to the taste and consistency, Aramouni's team also found that particle size alters sorghum's glycemic index, so it is possible that a very specific milling practice could make products healthier, perhaps even compared to other gluten-free wheat alternatives like corn and rice.

    Along with the grain science and industry department at Kansas State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture laboratory in Manhattan, Kansas, Aramouni and his team have developed a variety of sorghum-based tortillas, waffle ice cream cones, breads and Belgian waffles. Time and many taste tests will tell whether Aramouni's research will pay off in the form of more appetizing gluten-free products, but at the very least he and his team are helping us understand that is not just about what grains you use, but how they are processed.

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    Very encouraging that this work is being done, and with some positive findings! My greatest concern, however, is that so many of the gluten-free flours/products are wanting in nutritional value. At the least, the sorghum has the potential for a low-glycemic effect. Making progress!

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    Before sorghum becomes all the rage in gluten-free foods, its potential as an allergen should be studied. I've worked with several celiacs who thought they were getting gluten in their diet despite great vigilance. All of them turned out to be reacting to sorghum, and when that was removed, their symptoms stopped. There has been no research at all on how prevalent allergy to sorghum might be.

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    I consider it still a grain and so far all grains I can't eat. Let me know when something that is suitable that does not contain grain be used for grains. Now I got only a few things like almonds and coconut.

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    Interesting article. However, if products made with sorghum have the same additives, dough conditioners, chemicals, etc. added they will be no better than what is on the market now. I find that most gluten-free products are no better than their flour counterparts because of the adulteration. I don't eat them. I want my food to be as natural as possible.

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    The hotdog and hamburger buns I buy right now contain sorghum as one of the flours, but it does not affect the color because the bread looked bleached white. Sorghum has a distinct flavor (which is unpleasant) when I use it to cook with, even in tiny quantities mixed with mostly rice flour, but I cannot taste it in the premade breads I buy... so I think they have access to much higher quality sorghum.

     

    Thanks for the article, now I am positive the big companies are hoarding the good stuff for their own products and selling the crappily milled kinds to the public...

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  • About Me

    Gryphon Myers recently graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in interdisciplinary studies, research emphasis in art, society and technology. He is a lifelong vegetarian, an organic, local and GMO-free food enthusiast and a high fructose corn syrup abstainer. He currently lives in Northern California. He also writes about and designs video games at Homunkulus.

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