Cereal grains are the foundation of the human diet, and have been for thousands of years! As such, they are often regarded as the pillars that civilizations are built on: wheat for Middle Eastern and European civilizations, maize for Native Americans, rice for China, and millet in the Far East… Is it a coincidence? Not quite: they are very nutritionally attractive, after all.
Cereals are rich in nutrients
Some are well-known (wheat, corn, rice, barley…), and others are more secondary, such as oat, spelt, or rye. Nutritional characteristics may vary from one cereal grain to the next, particularly in regard to micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), but their average macronutrient composition is as follows:
- 70-80% carbohydrates (in the form of starch)
- Proteins (up to 15% for wheat)
- Lipids in small proportion, particularly from the germ, from which certain vegetable oils can be extracted.
The benefits of eating cereal grains at breakfast
Cereal grains are best known for their energy contribution in the form of slow sugars. The complex carbohydrates they contain provide healthy energy, because they’re absorbed in the intestine more gradually than simple carbohydrates like sugar. This allows a steadier distribution of energy after meals, and helps avoid spikes in blood sugar.
No wonder it is recommended to have them for breakfast! The body needs to energize in the morning after its nightly fast, in order to keep going until lunch!
Furthermore, cereal grains contain a great variety of vitamins and minerals, and each has its own benefits: be sure to switch them up daily, so you can to make the most of what they have to offer!