What Specific Type of Bran Works as an Antioxidant

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A new study has uncovered proof that certain varieties of “sorghum bran” are more potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatories than well-known foods, such as blueberries and pomegranates.

Score one for the whole grains.

By measuring “polyphenols” — which naturally occur in plants to help fight against pests and disease — researchers found that black and sumac varieties of sorghum have huge levels of antioxidants. Many fruits also contain these compounds, they said, though sorghum bran may prove to be the richest, most inexpensive source. (And if you’ve checked the price of pomegranate juice, it’s an important consideration.)

In mice, researchers measured how much four different varieties of sorghum lowered inflammation. The black and sumac kinds showed significantly higher levels of polyphenolic content and antioxidant levels than two other varieties tested, which did not reduce inflammation.

The key is that those two kinds are high in tannins, the natural chemical that makes grapes and red wine healthy. Polyphenols in the high-tannin sorghum varieties ranged from 23 to 62 mg per gram of bran. This is enormously more than, say, blueberries, which have about 5.0 mg of polyphenols per gram, or pomegranate juice, which has 2.0 to 3.5 mg per gram.

And the U.S. is the best place to be, as it is the world’s largest producer of sorghum. That said, most is low-tannin and fed to cattle or poultry. The high-tannin sorghum bran products have only recently found their way into supermarkets.

Clearly this bran could have major health benefits, and could even by added to food and beverages to increase the health potential of other food products. Sorghum extract could be added as a liquid concentrate or dried powder. The researchers believe that sorghum’s low price and high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties make it widely useful as an inexpensive and nutritional food additive.

They have already experimented with adding the extract to apple juice, which could prompt an affordable alternative to pomegranate juice. In the whole grain category, sorghum has more antioxidants than rice bran, wheat bran and oat bran as well. This grain gives you a major medicinal punch. Look for it in the grocery store and investigate, making sure it is the high-tannin variety.