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Jowar: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Smita Barode

By Dr Smita Barode +2 more

Introduction: 

Many Indians eat roti daily which is one of the staple foods of many states. There are many types of rotis and Jowar is one of such cereals which is popularly used for making rotis. Jowar is also known as durra, jowari, sorghum, great millet and milo. It is a grass species which is cultivated for its grain and the scientific name of jowar is Sorghum bicolour which belongs to the family Poaceae.1 Jowar is a cereal which is indigenous to North-eastern Africa and is being cultivated from around 3700 to 4000 years. It is mainly cultivated in India and Nigeria. It is one of the topmost produced cereal crops which ranks fifth after maize, wheat, rice, and barley. Jowar is also grown in other countries like the United States, Mexico and Australia, but as an animal feed.2 It contains various nutrients and may be beneficial for health. Let’s read and find out more in detail.2 Let us discuss more health benefits of the jowar.  

Nutritional Value of Jowar: 

100g of jowar provides an energy of 329 kcal.3 The nutrients present in it are as follows: 

jowar in a bowl

Nutrient  Percentage present  
Carbohydrates  72.1g 
Proteins  10.6g 
Fibre  6.7g 
Sugars  2.53g 
Fats  3.46g 
Iron  3.36mg 
Calcium  13mg 
Potassium  363mg 
Sodium  2mg 
Zinc  1.67mg 
Magnesium  165mg 
Phosphorous  289mg 

Table 1: Depicting the nutrients present in 100g of jowar3 

The vitamins present in jowar are as follows: 

  • Vitamin B1 (thiamin) 
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin) 
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) 
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) 
  • Vitamin E (tocopherol)3 

Properties of Jowar: 

Did you know that jowar, a versatile cereal crop, is the fifth most widely grown grain worldwide? It is gaining popularity in certain regions as a substitute for maize because of its high productivity, ability to withstand drought, and tolerance to high temperatures.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Jowar might possess the following properties: 

  • It might act as antioxidant 
  • It might act as an anti-cancer agent  
  • It might lower blood glucose level 
  • It might help in weight management 
  • It might safeguard the heart 
  • It might lower the cholesterol levels2 
  • It might help in bone health  
  • It might help with digestion 
  • It might help blood circulation 
  • It might boost energy levels1 

Also Read: Black Rice: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Rajeev Singh

Potential Uses of Jowar for Overall Health: 

By incorporating jowar into your diet, you can enjoy a variety of gluten-free options while still obtaining essential nutrients and promoting overall digestive health. I’ve observed that jowar is a unique cereal as it is naturally gluten-free, unlike other grains like barley and wheat. This makes it a safe and suitable alternative for individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Jowar contains various phenolic compounds and other bioactive compounds. It is highly nutritious. Therefore, it might be of potential use for various conditions that are stated below. 

1. Potential uses of jowar for oxidative stress 

Jowar may contain many bioactive compounds which may act as an antioxidant agent. This antioxidant property might be due to the presence of various phenolic compounds, especially condensed tannins. These compounds might help in the neutralization of free radicals which cause a decrease in oxidative stress. Jowar might help in reducing oxidative stress and may also fight against various chronic diseases. However, more research is required to prove the role of jowar in decreasing oxidative stress. Kindly consult a doctor for chronic diseases and do not self-medicate.2 

2. Potential uses of jowar for diabetes 

A study conducted by Kim and Hyun showed that jowar might fight against diabetes. It was seen that jowar might have the potential to lower the blood glucose level. It was seen that the grains of jowar might be effective in reducing the activity of certain enzymes involved in the breakdown of starch into glucose which leads to an increase in blood glucose. Therefore, by inhibiting these enzymes jowar might help in lowering the blood glucose level and this may be due to the presence of tannins. However, more research is required to prove these claims. Therefore, kindly consult a qualified doctor for the proper diagnosis and treatment of a serious condition like diabetes and do not self-medicate.2 

3. Potential uses of jowar for weight management 

Sorghum or jowar is a grain which is digested slowly by our body. Jowar contains condensed tannins which may react with starches and proteins to form a bulk in the intestines which makes it even less digestible. In studies, it was seen that jowar intake may feel more satisfied and fuller in the stomach. Thus, it might help in reducing calorie intake and might be good for weight management. Furthermore, in comparison to whole grain biscuits, jowar biscuits may cause lower hunger and higher satiety. Kindly ensure that you consult with a doctor before including jowar in your diet for weight management.2 

4. Potential uses of jowar for the heart 

Jowar might have cholesterol-lowering potential. Cholesterol might build up in the blood vessels, block them and cause decreased blood flow to the heart. This blocking in the heart due to cholesterol leads to the improper functioning of the heart. Phytosterols and polycosanols are lipids present in jowar that might help regulate the synthesis, absorption and excretion of cholesterol. Thus, affecting the cholesterol levels in the blood jowar might reduce the risk of heart diseases. If you have any heart problems consult your doctor and get proper treatment. Do not self-medicate.2 

5. Potential uses of jowar for inflammation 

Numerous studies have shown that the phenolic compounds present in jowar might be effective against inflammatory markers. The phenolic compounds of jowar might influence and interfere with the inflammatory processes by affecting the activity of inflammatory markers. Thus, jowar might help in alleviating inflammation.2 If you have any inflammatory problems consult a doctor and do not self-medicate.  

6. Potential uses of jowar for cancer  

Studies showed that phenolic compounds present in jowar may have antioxidant potential which may help as an anticancer agent. A compound like 3-deoxyanthocyanidins (a phenolic compound) may fight against the growth of cancer cells involved in cancers of the colon, hepatoma, oesophagus, breast, and stomach.2 Cancer is a serious condition and if you’re having cancer, consult the doctor and get proper medication. Do not self-medicate.  

Though there are studies that show the potential uses of jowar in various conditions, these are insufficient and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of benefits of jowar on human health.  

Also Read: Suji (Semolina): Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Rajeev Singh

How to Use Jowar? 

Jowar can be used for making various kinds of food. It can be used to make: 

  • Tortillas (Roti’s) 
  • Porridges 
  • Couscous  
  • Baked goods  
  • Snacks 4 

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking jowar in large quantities or any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor.   

Also Read: Wheat Berries: Research-Based Guide to Health Benefits and Recipes

Side Effects of Jowar: 

 Jowar is a relatively safe cereal grain that is consumed. It is relatively safe when consumed in food quantities. However, it may have certain unknown side effects which need to be uncovered by further research and exploration. Therefore, kindly consult a doctor immediately if you notice any unusual symptoms after eating jowar. 

Also Read: Puffed Rice: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Rajeev Singh

Precautions to Take with Jowar:  

There is insufficient data regarding the consumption of jowar for pregnant and breastfeeding women. So, it is advised to consult a doctor before eating jowar. There is insufficient data regarding the effects of jowar on children and elderly individuals. Kindly consult a doctor before giving it to them. 

Also Read: Pecans: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Rajeev Singh

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

Jowar might react with unknown drugs which need to be explored by further research. Kindly consult a doctor if you are undergoing any treatment and are on medication for the same. 

Frequently Asked Questions: 

What are the benefits of jowar? 

Jowar might be helpful against heart, diabetes, cancer, oxidative stress, and cholesterol. However, more research is required to prove these potential effects. Therefore, kindly consult a doctor before use for any health condition.2 

What are the nutrients of jowar? 

Jowar is rich in nutrients, it contains carbohydrates, fats, proteins, sugars, fibre, minerals (calcium, magnesium, sodium, iron) and vitamins (B1, B2, B3, E). It also contains various phytochemicals and bioactive compounds.2,3 

Is jowar good for the heart? 

Yes, jowar might be good for the heart as it might lower the risk factors leading to heart disease. However, more research is required to prove these potential uses. Kindly consult a doctor for heart disease, as it is a serious condition and do not self-medicate.2 

Can we eat jowar if we have diabetes? 

Yes, you might eat jowar and it might lower the blood glucose levels. However, ensure that you consult a doctor before consuming jowar for health conditions. Moreover, diabetes is a serious condition and must be properly diagnosed and treated by a doctor. Do not self-medicate.2 

Is jowar good for the skin? 

There are no reports regarding the potential uses of jowar for the skin. There is a requirement for more research on this subject. 

References: 

1. Dutta N. Use of Sorghum / Jowar for Various Purposes in the Different States of. 2021;10(2):2792–801. Available from: http://www.modern-journals.com/index.php/ijma/article/view/1089 

2. Xiong Y, Zhang P, Warner RD, Fang Z. Sorghum Grain: From Genotype, Nutrition, and Phenolic Profile to Its Health Benefits and Food Applications. Compr Rev Food Sci Food Saf [Internet]. 2019 Nov 18;18(6):2025–46. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1541-4337.12506 

3. FoodData Central. Sorghum grain [Internet]. U.S. Department of Agriculture. [cited 2022 Sep 5]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169716/nutrients 

4. Anglani C. Sorghum for human food:a review. Plant Foods Hum Nutr [Internet]. 1998;52(1):85–95. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9839838 

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