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Sorghum grain as human food in Africa: relevance of content of starch and amylase activities

Mamoudou H. Dicko
Harry Gruppen
Alfred S. Traoré
Alphons G.J. Voragen
Willem J.H. van Berkel


Sorghum is a staple food grain in many semi-arid and tropic areas of the world, notably in Sub-Saharan Africa because of its good adaptation to hard environments and its good yield of production. Among important biochemical components for sorghum processing are levels of starch (amylose and amylopectin) and starch depolymerizing enzymes. Current research focus on identifying varieties meeting specific agricultural and food requirements from the great biodiversity of sorghums to insure food security. Results show that some sorghums are rich sources of micronutrients (minerals and vitamins) and macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fat). Sorghum has a resistant starch, which makes it interesting for obese and diabetic people. In addition, sorghum may be an alternative food for people who are allergic to gluten. Malts of some sorghum varieties display a-amylase and ß-amylase activities comparable to those of barley, making them useful for various agro-industrial foods. The feature of sorghum as a food in developing as well as in developed countries is discussed. A particular emphasis is made on the impact of starch and starch degrading enzymes in the use of sorghum for some African foods, e.g. “tô”, thin porridges for infants, granulated foods “couscous”, local beer “dolo”, as well agro-industrial foods such as lager beer and bread.

Keywords: sorghum, a-amylase, b-amylase, starch, infant porridge, beer, couscous, dolo, tô, bread

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eISSN: 1684-5315