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Cereals - Grains we eat!

Updated on January 26, 2013

Cereals are seeds of domesticated grasses which had been included in man’s diet for centuries. The principal cereals are rice, wheat, maize, millets, oats and rye. The choice of cereal for any population depends on the availability, climate of that area, economy of the population, culture and customs of that society. For example rice is grown in moist, damp tropical areas and wheat is grown in temperate drier climates.

What are the advantages of eating cereals?

Advantages of using cereals as a main meal are as follows:

· They supply a wide range of nutrients at low cost

· It is the major source of energy and protein as they supply

                     o 70% of the total energy

                     o 25- 60% of the total protein intake

· Grow almost anywhere on earth

· Easy to store and transport

· Can be readily processed into highly refined food

What are the cereals made of?

It is important to know the parts of a cereal grain so as to know the nutritional value. Outer most part of the grain is called husk/ hullwhich consist of cellulose and is not useful that part is thrown away as barn. Next layer is pericarp which is 2-4 fibrous layers containing some nutrients. Testa is the fibrous layer between pericarp and aleurone layer which is nutritious. Germ or embryolocated inside these layers has 3 structures named scutellum, plumule, radicle; which is also has a nutritional value. Endosperm is the greater part of grain; which is the store house of the grain; contains carbohydrate. Outer layers of other than husk are of high nutritional value with regard to protein and vitamins.

Nutritional value of Cereals!!

Regarding nutritional characteristics of cereals; there are some basic points to consider i.e. the amount of nutrients varies considerably from species to species; soil and climate. Added fertilizer also affects their composition and processing can reduce the nutritive content of the grain.

Energy content in cereals is high because of the high carbohydrate content [1.00 – 1.63 MJ (240- 390 kcal) per 100 g]. Here starch is the principal carbohydrate mainly seen in endosperm and sucrose is high in germ.

Protein content is 6.5-14% and generally deficient in one or more following essential amino acids i.e. Lysine, Threonine, Tryptopan; but still it contains a wide variety of the non essential amino acids. Regarding composition of proteins; Prolamines and Glutelins are chief proteins. In wheat endosperm gliadin (a prolamine) and glutenin (a glutelin) are present and these proteins are important in bread making as these proteins make a tough elastic complex called gluten which is medically important since some develop allergy against gluten.

Lipid content is 1 – 5% which is low; therefore cereals can be used as a source of protein for low fat diets. In general, diets mainly based on cereals will be deficient in fat soluble vitamins, but wheat germ oil is a particularly rich source of vitamin E.

There is a wide variation regarding mineral content; which is influenced by soil, storage conditions and processing method. Most are good sources of phosphorus, but are poor in calcium and sodium.

Cereals are also an important source of vitamins in the diet. Cereals are good source of thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin(vitaminB2), niacin (belong to vitamin B complex); nevertheless it is low in retinol (vitamin A) and Calciferol (vitamin D); also practically devoid of ascorbic acid (vitamin C).But still it is an important source of Pyridoxine (vitamin B6), but great deal may be lost during processing.

Rice - the cereal of the tropics!

Rice is the most important staple food of more than half the human race but it is not a complete food. Value is further reduced between harvesting and consumption as most nutrients are lost during the processing. Milling removes outer portions of the seed, including the embryo, leading to insufficiency of the B complex of vitamins, as vitamins are concentrated on the outer portions of the grain. Washing the milled rice further reduce the content of vitamins as it exposes the aleurone layer and endosperm to water.

Alternative for this is parboiling which is practice in some countries like China, India; where paddy is soaked, steamed, dried and milled. Here water soluble nutrients diffuse from the germ and aleurone layer into the endosperm, so milling doesn’t diminish their concentration in the grain to a greater extent; but since this is not a standard procedure the end product is variable; and there can be disagreeable color and odor as a result of prolonged soaking.

Wheat - from West to East!

The cultivation of wheat is pre-historic. The grain of wheat is a seed with a structure similar to that of rice; here outer coverings, pericarp and testa are hard, fibrous and indigestible; while the aleurone layer is rich in protein. Distribution of nutrients in the grain is not uniform unlike in rice.

Wheat is usually ground into flour before being prepared as food. Proportion of the whole grain that is used for making flour is called extraction rate; here flours of low extraction rate have lost most of the aleurone layer and outer endosperm; which consist mainly starch with little vitamin and it is white in color; while high extraction flour contain most of the scutellum and aleurone layer, in addition to the endosperm

Some products prepared by wheat flour are bread, biscuits, macaroni, spaghetti and noodles. In 1 lb of bread made with 80% extraction flour contains 1140 kcal of energy, 40 g of protein, 480 mg of calcium, 6.5 mg of iron, 0.6 mg of thiamin (vitamin B1) and 0.3 mg of riboflavin (vitamin B2).

Other Cereals.............

Maize or corn grows in localities not particularly suitable for other cereals but it has higher protein content than rice or wheat. There is more niacin (Belong to B complex vitamins) content than rice but the vitamin is present in bound form (niacytin), so they are unavailable for the absorption.

Oats is the most nutritious of cereals, containing 14% protein and 8% fat. It is difficult to remove the husk so it has high fiber content.

So there is enough evidence to have cereals as chief article of diet of humans since it provides most of the nutrients quite easily. Even the base of the food guide pyramid is comprises 2-4 servings of cereals.


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    • profile image

      jhansie jewaram 6 years ago

      u know rite i love cereals

    • profile image

      narda persaud 6 years ago

      awesome!! when i saw those pics n read about them i got hungry n went 2 eat some rite away. thanks 4 the advive.

    • profile image

      jhansie jewaram 6 years ago

      very intresting stuff i like it

    • profile image

      jhansie jewaram 6 years ago

      that very good keep it up

    • stayingalivemoma profile image

      Valerie Washington 6 years ago from Tempe, Arizona

      excellent hub...put together very well. voted up & awesome...also tweeted to my followers!

    • Nadeeshan301 profile image

      Chathurika Dhanasekara 6 years ago from Kandy - Sri Lanka

      Thank you Nikki, we are very pleased to hear your encouraging comments and your experience of success!

    • Nadeeshan301 profile image

      Chathurika Dhanasekara 6 years ago from Kandy - Sri Lanka

      Thank you Sunshine625, we are delighted to hear that this is wonderful!

    • Nikki D. Felder profile image

      Nikki D. Felder 6 years ago from Castle Hayne, N.C.

      You are extremely resourceful! I went on a cereal diet once, but only at night. I would eat Crispix along with exercise. Boy, did the weight drop! I was in my 20s then... Thank you, Nikki D. Felder

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      A wonderful hub about cereal! Very detailed and fun! I enjoy my daily serving of cereal with NO HIGH FRUCTOSE SUGAR and a dose of ground flax seed sprinkled over it. Voted UP!

    • Nadeeshan301 profile image

      Chathurika Dhanasekara 6 years ago from Kandy - Sri Lanka

      Dear The Blagsmith,

      Thank you for your encouraging comments which we appreciate very much!

    • Nadeeshan301 profile image

      Chathurika Dhanasekara 6 years ago from Kandy - Sri Lanka

      Thank you Gypsy Rose Lee, glad to hear this was informative and interesting!!

    • Nadeeshan301 profile image

      Chathurika Dhanasekara 6 years ago from Kandy - Sri Lanka

      Thank you angelina1607, glad to hear this hub is productive!

    • The Blagsmith profile image

      The Blagsmith 6 years ago from Britain

      A lot of supporting media to aid the reader's attention. Nice stuff.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 6 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Interesting and informative. I love making oatmeal many different ways.

    • angelina1607 profile image

      angelina1607 6 years ago

      Excellent Hub! Very Productive ! keep it up.

    • angelina1607 profile image

      angelina1607 6 years ago

      Excellent Hub! Very Productive ! keep it up.

    • Nadeeshan301 profile image

      Chathurika Dhanasekara 6 years ago from Kandy - Sri Lanka

      Thanx WillStarr! Glad to hear your complements!

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Really informative Hub! Well done.

    • Nadeeshan301 profile image

      Chathurika Dhanasekara 6 years ago from Kandy - Sri Lanka

      Thank you VENZKHVAM, for adding the marketing perspective of cereals to this hub and also for your comments, which we appreciate very much!

    • Nadeeshan301 profile image

      Chathurika Dhanasekara 6 years ago from Kandy - Sri Lanka

      Thank you SubRon7, glad to see your encouraging comments!

    • VENZKHVAM profile image

      VENZKHVAM 6 years ago from Milk way galaxy, trying to find a more adventurous place in another galaxy with my great followers

      Dear Nadeeshan,

      Do you know, Almost 250 years ago, when cereals first came into being, it was not liked by any one.It tasted awful, and didn’t look much better also. They invented this for convenience and health of the younger generation.The cereals were rather plain and were not so tasty. So, the business class cleverly came up with novel way of adding sugar to the cereals, so that all the younger generations loved the way the cereals tasted.

      But on the other side the buyers started worrying the effect of sugar added cereal's effect on the childrens.

      This gave birth to the “vitamin fortified” label which you can see on the box of cereal now. The Vitamins and minerals, which are essential for the development of our everyone's health, were added to the cereal mix, and all the buyers were happy.

      This continues till today in many of the varieties of cereal we have available, many of them just for your health. Many cereals have combined wheat products, grains, and fruit into cereals that are not only vitamin fortified but also health fortified.

      I am sure this much information will be an amusement for you.

      you have written good hub.

      I had voted up and useful.

      I am following you with happiness.

      These cereals provide your vitamins, minerals, grain, and some fruit needs

    • SubRon7 profile image

      James W. Nelson 6 years ago from eastern North Dakota

      Good hub, Nadeeshan, very interesting.