Varieties of cereal
Maize (sweet corn)
Nutritional value of cereals
Cereals contain a significant amount of PROTEIN and because we eat a substantial amount of cereals, they can constitute a large proportion of the protein content of the diet. However, it is important to note that the proteins in cereals are low in the essential amino acid lysine.
However, if cereals are eaten with other foods such as bread, lentil peas or beans, the balance of amino acids compensate one another.
Cereals contain fat, and within the fat is the fat-soluble vitamin E.
Cereals contain substantial amounts of the B group vitamins, although the amounts depend upon how the grain has been milled. The fibre content of CEREALS also depends on the milling process.
Cereals contain sodium, magnesium and zinc and because some cereal products are fortified, they also contain significant amounts of calcium and iron.
Choice of cereals
Cereals are important in the diet because they are relatively cheap to produce, and are a good source of energy. Cereals are processed and used to produce a range of products such as: flour, breakfast cereals, bread and pasta.
- Barley is mainly sold as pearl barley, which is the whole grain with its husk removed.
- Maize (or corn) is not widely used in the UK but it is an important part of the diet in America and South Africa. Maize is a good source of energy.
-Oats are richer in fats and minerals than other cereals and contain a high level of protein. Oats are ground to produce oatmeal.
-Pasta is the name given to a wide variety of wheat flour products. It is a simple mixture of flour, salt and water although sometimes egg is added to make a richer pasta. Most pasta is made with a special type of wheat flour called durum wheat flour. Pasta provides mainly carbs in the form of starch and is low in protein and fat. Pasta contains some B vitamins and minerals.
-Rye is grown in areas where the climate is too severe for wheat, such as Russia, nothern Europe and the northen parts of America.
-Rice is one of the world's most important food crops. It contains the lowest amount of protein, fat and minerals of all cereals. When rice is harvested the grains of rice are milled. Brown rice has its outer husk removed; white rice is milled and polished further to remove the bran and germ.
-Wheat contains three layers.
The bran accounts for 13% of the grain and is a tough outer skin that contains most of the dietary fibre and minerals such as iron, calcium and phosphorus.
The germ, which is the seed part of the grain, accounts for 2% of the grain and contains most of the fat.
The scutellum is rich in thiamin. The largest part of the wheat grain is the endosperm, which accounts for 85% of the grain.
Uses of cereals
Pearl barley, which is the whole grain with its husk removed, is used to thicken soups, stews and casseroles.
Maize (corn) is mainly used as cattle feed in the UK.
Rolled oats are used for porridge, which is simple and quick to make and provides a cheap, filling breakfast. Ground oatmeal is used to make biscuits such as oat cakes and digestive biscuits.
Pasta is available fresh or dried. Dried pasta has a firmer, more solid texture when cooked. It is excellent for chunky vegetable and meat sauces. Fresh pasta has a softer texture and will absorb the flavours of the sauce it is served with.
Pasta sauces coat different pasta shapes in different ways:
- long, thin pasta shapes require a runny sauce
- wide pasta such as tagliatelle and curved or hollow tube shapes such as penne are better thicker, chunkier sauces.
- very small pasta shapes like vermicelli are best for soup.
There are many different types of rice available. Rice varies according to the size and shape of the grain and the region where it is grown.