The word cereal is derived from ceres, the Roman Goddess of grain. The common cereal crops are rice, wheat, corn, oats and rye. The term cereal is not limited to these but also flours, meals, breads and alimentary pastes or pasta. Cereal science is a study concerned with all technical aspects of cereal. It is the study the nature of the cereals and the changes that occurs naturally and as a result of handling and processing.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Importance of Cereals in Human Nutrition

The Importance of Cereals in Human Nutrition
In almost every country and region, cereals provide the staple food. In the world as a whole, only 5% of starchy staple food comes from root crops (mainly cassava, potato, and yams, depending on climate), whereas the rest is from cereal. There is a greater dependence in roots in the developing economies, where the average figure for roots is 10%.

Cereal grains contain 60% to 70% starch and are excellent energy rich foods for humans. Doctors recommend cereals as the first food to be added to infant diets and evidence from research upholds that healthy diet for adults should have most of its calories in the form of complex carbohydrate such as cereal starch. Even in countries, such as United Kingdom, where there is a wide choice of different foods available, people gets a large amount of their dietary energy (20% - 30%) from cereals or foods containing cereal starch.

A healthy human diet must also include 20 to 30 g/day of dietary fiber, which can easily achieved by eating whole grain cereal products such as breads, cookies or porridges.

Adult woman requires about 50 g of protein per day, whereas an adult man needs slightly more (about 63g). The cereals can easily supply this quantity of protein, but unfortunately they lack the essential amino acid lysine and therefore they must not be used as the sole source of dietary protein. In rural areas of poorer countries people may eat more than 500 g of cereal per day, which will provide most of their protein needs (and more than 50% of their total daily energy requirement).

Cereals are an excellent source of fat soluble vitamin E, which is an essential antioxidant. Whole cereal grains contain 20% to 30% of the daily requirements of the minerals selenium, calcium, zinc, and copper.

Unfortunately, bran contains substances such as phytic acid, which chelates minerals, preventing them from being easily digested and absorbed. It is therefore important that grain is processed correctly so that optimum nutrition benefits can be achieved.
The Importance of Cereals in Human Nutrition

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