Introduction

Cereals are part of the staple diet of human beings for thousands of years. In this section we present the main cereals consumed today and noted for its dietary properties, including a brief explanation of the ways in which we can find and cook. Many cereals can be eaten as sprouts but it is widely discussed in the section Sprouts so this section does not mention this interesting form of consumption.

Cereals at the end of spring. Photography by Zerok -  Creative Commons License

Properties

In general it is more advisable to consume whole grains as refined loses much of its properties. The refining process involves the separation of floury body (rich in starch, it is the part that gives us carbohydrates) seed (rich in vitamins, minerals and enzymes) and bran (which provides fiber). This means that if we eat the refined cereal we eat carbohydrates and were practically without minerals, vitamins and fiber. 

The human body needs to operate two types of basic food: macronutrients and micronutrients. 

  • Macronutrients are those nutrients that the body needs in large amounts in order to perform different functions. This group includes proteins, carbohydrates or fiber. Broadly speaking, proteins are used by the body to rebuild and renew itself, a kind of food brick. When we are young, the body needs a lot of protein to develop properly, as we get older we need less each time. On the other hand, carbohydrates are the fuel, gasoline, pure energy that the body uses to move and build strength. Literally, carbohydrates are the energy of the sun stored by plants. 

  • Micronutrients are those nutrients that the body needs in very small amounts as minerals, trace elements, vitamins, etc.. Although these substances are needed in very minute amounts compared to macronutrients, are absolutely essential to the health of the body. The various systems and organs of the body need these nutrients to perform its functions properly and be healthy. When we deprive the body of these micronutrients is when the body begins to lose its natural vigor and is the physical principle of many diseases. 

This is why it is so important to eat whole grains. Nature is very wise and cereals has focused many of the substances we need to live in a healthy way. There is an old Japanese proverb that says "eat grains without their skins makes people poor (body and spirit), and short coat (protection against cold and disease)."

Loaf of rye bread. Photo by John Loo - Creative Commons License

In many Asian regions formerly people fed almost exclusively by brown rice. When the system to separate the outer layer of rice and leaving only the white part or body floury endosperm was invented, it was not long until people started getting sick by micronutrient deficiency. Although it may not be absolutely necessary to eat all whole grains, we can combine them, because as we have seen is very advisable to eat a high percentage of whole grains to promote natural health of the body. 

Article written by Shauri.