Jowar is the Indian name for sorghum, a type of grass that's grown for grain. It's a staple food in parts of Asia and Africa, where it's ground into flour and used to make bread. Jowar is also used to make alcoholic beverages or toasted and eaten like popcorn. The grain is a rich source of key vitamins and minerals, though it contains a fairly high amount of calories and a small amount of fat. It's an excellent source of fiber, however, so it's worth incorporating into your diet.
Calories, Fat, Protein and Fiber
A 3.5-ounce serving of jowar, which is about a 1/2 cup, contains 339 calories and 3.3 grams of fat, of which almost none is saturated fat. The same portion of jowar supplies 6.3 grams of fiber. Women need to eat about 25 grams of fiber each day, and that serving of jowar clocks in at one-fourth of that goal. Fiber helps promote regular digestion, which can help keep you from getting constipated. You'll also get 11.3 grams of protein in a 3.5-ounce serving of jowar. That translates to about a quarter of the 46 grams of protein you should have on a daily basis. Protein supplies you with energy and helps your cells constantly regenerate themselves.
Vitamins and Minerals
You'll consume 4.4 milligrams of iron in each 3.5-ounce serving of jowar, which is 25 percent of the 18 milligrams women should aim for each day. Adequate amounts of iron help prevent anemia, a condition that causes weakness and fatigue. The same portion of jowar delivers 2.9 milligrams of niacin, which is 20 percent of the 14 milligrams you should have as part of your daily diet. Niacin helps you make energy from the foods you eat. Jowar supplies small amounts of potassium for muscle health and calcium for strong bones, too.
The compounds in jowar, called phytochemicals, might help prevent and treat certain types of cancer. Michael T. Murray and Joseph Pizzorno, authors of "The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods," report that these compounds can stop the formation and growth of colon, breast, lung, pancreas, liver and esophageal cancer. These same phytochemicals might reduce the risk of heart disease, as well, according to Murray and Pizzorno. Jowar also contains compounds called anthocyanins, which can prevent free radical damage. Free radicals develop when you're exposed to contaminants, such as pollution and cigarette smoke, and are also created as part of the aging process. These harmful substances can increase your risk of cancer and other chronic health problems such as heart disease. Anthocyanins might also lower your cholesterol levels, Murray and Pizzorno note.
Tips and Considerations
Because jowar is a gluten-free grain, it's often located in the gluten-free section of health food stores and large supermarkets. Replace half of your usual flour with jowar flour, which will be labeled as sorghum flour, in your favorite baked goods, such as homemade bread and muffins, Murray and Pizzorno recommend. If you purchase products made with sorghum flour, keep them tightly wrapped and refrigerated to prevent the growth of germs and to keep the grain from going rancid. The same goes for things you make at home with jowar.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Sorghum
- The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods; Michael T. Murray and Joseph Pizzorno
- MayoClinic.com: Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Protein
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Iron
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Niacin
Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.