Grains, Pasta, and Cereal

Shelf life of grains, pasta and cerealThe word “grain,” when applied to edible products, refers to the dried and threshed fruits and seeds of various food plants, especially the cereal grasses. (The plants these seeds grow on are also called grains.) Collectively, grains are among the most important foods in the world. Cereal grains are grown in greater quantities than any other crop. The most common and important cereal grains are rice, corn (maize), and wheat. Others are barley, millet sorghum, oats, and rye. Corn, wheat, and rice together account for nearly 90% of grain production worldwide.

Most people eat grains and food primarily made of grains-- for example, pasta, crackers and bakery goods, especially bread—as a significant part of their diet. However, this wasn’t always the case. Wheat and barley were domesticated only 10,000 years ago, rice and corn approximately 7,000 years ago, and oats only about 3,000 years ago.

Federal Dietary Guidelines recommend that Americans eat at least three 1-ounce servings of whole grains every day because they help cut the risk of heart disease and cancer. Whole grains (as opposed to refined or processed grains) include all three key ingredients of the cereal grains—bran (the fiber-filled outer portion of the grain kernel), the endosperm (the inner part, which is all that’s in the processed grains), and the germ (the heart of the grain kernel). Products that have whole grain in them are generally labeled that way (whole grain wheat, whole grain oats, etc.).

Nutritionists advise that, when choosing a breakfast cereal, consumers check the list of ingredients and choose one that has a whole grain, not sugar, as its main ingredient.

Types of Grains, Pasta, and Cereal


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