New gluten free grain for people with coeliac disease: Sorghum

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 10th April 2013

New biochemical evidence shows that the cereal grain sorghum is a safe food for people with coeliac disease, according to new research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

The new study, which was undertaken by researchers at chemistry science representative body American Chemical Society, found molecular evidence that sorghum lacks the proteins dangerous to people with coeliac disease.

People with coeliac disease must avoid wheat, barley and some other grains, because the gluten proteins in those grains triggers an immune reaction that can cause abdominal pain and discomfort, constipation, diarrhea and other symptoms. The only treatment for coeliac disease is lifelong avoidance of gluten.

Sorghum, researchers noted, has traditionally been used in Western countries as animal feed, but in Africa and India it has long been a food for people. Recently, US farmers have begun producing sorghum hybrids that are a white grain, known as ‘food grade’ sorghum.

The researchers said that an analysis of the recently published sorghum genome, which detailed the complete set of genes in the plant, showed that the grain did not contain the problematic gluten proteins.

Sorghum also has a high nutritional value, according to the researchers. “Food-grade sorghums should be considered as an important option for all people, especially coeliac patients,” the published report said.


Sorghum (image credit: DOE Joint Genome Institute)