Most of us are aware that we consume more cereal. We are accustomed to seeing them as base of the pyramid making them true and nutritional food. What makes the whole grains so special?
Grains, including bread, breakfast cereals, rice and pasta, are at the base of the food guide pyramid because we need more servings from this group (between 6 and 11 or more) than any other group foodstuff. The cereals supply complex carbohydrates, also called starches, which provide energy. They are low in fat and high in fiber as well as providing a large amount of vitamins and minerals. Whole grains are more complete than those who have lost nutrients in the refining process. In some cases, once they have been refined, producers add nutrients that are lost in the process but in most cases can never attain the levels of prior nutrition.
What is a cereal?
A cereal is fruit with seed of certain herbs. The outer layer of non-edible cereal is called chaff. When this layer is removed, what remains is what is known as' Groats' (coarse ground cereal) or berries. The next layer is the cereal bran and is a protective layer. This layer is very rich in fiber. Once this layer is removed, the grain is soft and filing. Inside the bran is the endosperm and the germ (the part with more nutrients). When grains are refined, the protective shell, the bran and germ disappear leaving only the endosperm. Technically speaking, buckwheat, quinoa and amaranth are fruits and cereals but not in general tend to fall within the group of cereals.
When buying cereal, it would be important being familiar with certain names. If the cereal is described as a party or cut ( 'cracked' or 'steel-cut’), that means it has been chopped into pieces too small and therefore the cooking and preparation will be faster. In the case of crushed cereals or overwhelmed cereal, means that the cereals have been pre-sliced and then crushed with rollers. In the case of cereals in the form of flour, grains have been milled until the desired texture. When speaking of sifted flour, the bran is lost but not the germ. However in some cases the seeds are removed. If meal means that the grains are cooked by steaming and soaking maintained, they have subtracted the shell and the germ, and after it has been cut into smaller pieces using rollers.
Are you hurry?
Do you think cooking grains is labor? Not at all! Nothing could be further from the truth. While some cereals require much cooking time, if left to soak overnight, or cooking in pressure cooker, you can see this time reduced considerably. In addition you can also cook in a slow cooker ('Crockpot') which does not require any attention. Quick cooking cereals will be prepared in less than 30 minutes. These include fast brown rice, couscous, quinoa, buckwheat and semolina (kasha), teff and wheat bulgur.
All grains are low in fat and contain no cholesterol. They are relatively low in sodium unless you add salt to the cooking process. Normally have 5 or 10 grams of protein per cup. Vegetarians benefit of fiber, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, zinc and iron in cereals. Our favorite cereals in terms of nutritional content are amaranth, quinoa, barley, triticale and wheat bulgur.
Tired of rice and pasta? Try to cook quinoa or millet. Add some herbs and spices, vegetables, tofu, seitan, tempeh and various sauces to create an endless list of dishes with whole grains.
Cereals are listed starting with the highest score to the lowest. This score was arrived at after adding the percentages of recommended daily value of fiber (Fib), riboflavin (Ribo), vitamin B-6 (vit B-6), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu) and iron (Fe). Foods are classified depending on the amount possessed by each nutrient. Good sources of this nutrient were + sources + + were even better and the best source of that nutrient would be + + +. If you see an "na" = not available, means there are no data on the nutrient in the cereal. In cereals at the bottom in the table, missing information on more than 2 of the nutrients, so it is not appreciated punctuation. One serving equals one cup cooked
By Reed Mangels, Ph.D., RD
Published in Vegetarian Journal, September / October. 1999 by The Vegetarian Resource Group
|Quinoa||119||254||+ +||+++||+ +||+++||+++||+++|
|Barley, pearled||69||193||+++||+ +||+++||+ +||+||+ +|
|Triticale||69||322||na||+++||+ +||+++||+ +||+ +|
|Bulgur||64||151||+++||+||+ +||+ +||+||+ +|
|wild rice||62||166||+ +||+++||+++||+++||+||+|
|Millet||59||207||+ +||+++||+++||+ +||+ +||+|
|Oat bran||56||88||+++||+ +||+||+ +||+||+ +|
|Brown Rice||53||218||+ +||+||+++||+ +||+||+|
|Buckwheat||52||155||+ +||+ +||+ +||+ +||+||+|
|Wheat crushed||45||142||+ +||+ +||+||+++||na||+ +|
|Oatmel crushed||43||145||+ +||+||+||+ +||+||+ +|
|White rice, enriched||35||242||+||+||+||+||+||+ +|
|Wheat sprout||31||84||+ +||+||+ +||+ +||na||+|
|corn grits, enriched||24||145||+||+++||+||+||+||+ +|
|meal of corn, not enriched||12||145||+||+||+||+||+||+|
|Ground oats||na||232||+++||na||na||na||na||+ +|
|rye flakes||na||165||+++||na||na||na||na||+ +|
|Cut oats||na||340||+++||na||na||na||na||+ +|