Sorghum phytochemicals and their potential impact on human health

Phytochemistry. 2004 May;65(9):1199-221. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2004.04.001.


Sorghum is a rich source of various phytochemicals including tannins, phenolic acids, anthocyanins, phytosterols and policosanols. These phytochemicals have potential to significantly impact human health. Sorghum fractions possess high antioxidant activity in vitro relative to other cereals or fruits. These fractions may offer similar health benefits commonly associated with fruits. Available epidemiological evidence suggests that sorghum consumption reduces the risk of certain types of cancer in humans compared to other cereals. The high concentration of phytochemicals in sorghum may be partly responsible. Sorghums containing tannins are widely reported to reduce caloric availability and hence weight gain in animals. This property is potentially useful in helping reduce obesity in humans. Sorghum phytochemicals also promote cardiovascular health in animals. Such properties have not been reported in humans and require investigation, since cardiovascular disease is currently the leading killer in the developed world. This paper reviews available information on sorghum phytochemicals, how the information relates to current phytonutrient research and how it has potential to combat common nutrition-related diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease and obesity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthocyanins / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / chemistry*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Edible Grain / chemistry
  • Fatty Alcohols / chemistry
  • Flavonoids / chemistry
  • Fruit / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Molecular Structure
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Phenols / chemistry
  • Phenols / pharmacology
  • Phytosterols / chemistry
  • Proanthocyanidins / chemistry
  • Sorghum / chemistry*
  • Tannins / chemistry
  • Tannins / genetics
  • Tannins / metabolism


  • Anthocyanins
  • Antioxidants
  • Fatty Alcohols
  • Flavonoids
  • Phenols
  • Phytosterols
  • Proanthocyanidins
  • Tannins