Cereals are an ideal meal as they are high in vitamins and minerals and almost zero in calories. A single meal of cereal a day covers the daily requirement of fiber, magnesium and vitamin B 6.
Types and shapes of cereals
Cereals (Cerealiae) are the basis of the human diet. Cereals are grains and fruits. Cereals are used in the diet unprocessed, in grain form, processed, in the form of bakery products such as bread, pastries or pasta. The nutritional value of cereals consists of sprouts, bran, flour and starch. Gluten-containing cereals are wheat (Triticum), barley (Hordeum sativum), rye (Secale cereale) and oats (Avena sativa), and gluten-free cereals include maize (Zea mays), rice (Oryza sativa), wild rice Zizania plauspra, Z. aquatica), millet (Panicum milliaceum), buckwheat (Fagopyrum sagittaium), quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa), tapioca, Indian prosecco (Eleusine coracana), tef and Chinese sugar cane. Cereals are among the healthiest foods, but only if we eat them unprocessed.
What do cereals contain?
One of the basic ingredients of cereals is carbohydrates. Despite the rise of carbohydrate-free diets that have become popular in recent decades, most nutritionists agree that eating carbs is the basis of a healthy diet. However, they have in mind complex carbohydrates, such as those found in cereals, and not simple carbohydrates, such as those found in white flour products. Carbohydrates give us energy, but they are also the most important source of energy for the nervous system. Another important substance in cereals is fiber. Fiber is part of carbohydrates and is mostly made up of OH molecules located in the cell walls of plants. Different types of cereals contain different fibers. Cereal grains, wholemeal flour and bran contain cellulose and hemicellulose, wheat, bran, oat and corn flakes contain lignin.
Fiber increases the amount of feces and allows easier excretion of intestinal mucus, which results in easier excretion, binds bile acids and allows better absorption of fats, speeds up digestive enzymes, stops metabolic rate, helps eliminate toxins and waste substances that can stagnate in the intestines. Various intestinal diseases – including colon cancer – reduce the energy density of food, slow down the digestion of nutrients, give a feeling of satiety, slow down gastric emptying and lower blood glucose and insulin levels. The recommended daily intake of fiber in the body is 40 g. Cereals also contain vitamins and minerals. Which and how much varies depending on the type of grain. Most cereals contain vitamin E and some of the B vitamins. Buckwheat and barley are especially rich in B vitamins. Wheat contains important minerals phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron and vitamins provitamin A, B complex vitamins, E, D and K. Some cereals contain phytic acid, which prevents the absorption of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc in the digestive tract. When eating (too) rich in cereals, care must be taken to get enough of these minerals into the body. Phytic acid can be neutralized by soaking cereals in water. Soak them for a minimum of seven and a maximum of 24 hours before use.
Medicinal properties of cereals
The beneficial ingredients listed above are not present in all cereals – they are found only in whole products. Many cereals have healing properties. Wheat promotes growth and well-being, preserves the intestinal flora, strengthens resistance to skin inflammation and regulates digestion. Millet strengthens nails and hair, acts as a natural antibiotic, helps acidify the body. Buckwheat helps strengthen blood vessels, inhibits bleeding, relieves problems with high blood pressure, and also helps with some skin diseases. Corn helps to eliminate kidney stones and alleviates uric acid, and vitamin E, which it contains, among other things, inhibits the aging process. Barley also inhibits the aging process, which also helps relieve rheumatism and sciatica.
Oats help with diseases of the kidneys, bladder, urinary tract, bile and liver. Rye helps prevent the development of diabetes, and rice has a beneficial effect on stomach problems. Harvard research has confirmed the long-known grandmother’s wisdom that eating unprocessed grains has a beneficial effect on a slim figure. Fiber in cereals reduces the absorption of neutral fats (triglycerides) and cholesterol, binds bile acid and slows the absorption of sugar from the gut. Unprocessed grains are slowly digested thanks to fiber and therefore give the body a feeling of satiety that lasts. A School of Public Health study found that women who ate unprocessed grains had lower body weight and belly circumference than those who ate processed grains.
Recently, quinoa, a cereal native to the South American Andes, has been gaining in popularity. Nutritionists have rediscovered this plant, which was used for food by the ancient Incas, thanks to its exceptional properties. Quinoa contains a lot of protein, even over 20 percent (rice has 7.5), which is much more than any other cereal. In addition, the proteins in quinoa are of high quality as they have many of the amino acids lysine, methionine and cysteine. Quinoa also contains starch, sugars, oil (important linoleic acid), fiber, minerals and vitamins. It is easily digestible and tastes great. Quinoa beans are cooked in 15 minutes. It is also suitable as a diet for young children and babies. You can prepare quinoa just like risotto or just cook it in salted water.
Do not use aluminum or Teflon pans for cooking cereals, as mixing particles can get into the food when mixing. Stainless steel containers and copper and clay containers are best for preparing cereals. Be careful with the latter – some clay pots are painted with inedible and even toxic paints. Check the safety of the clay pot at the time of purchase. Soak the grains before use, if you do not have time, at least rinse them thoroughly with water. Cereals are cooked in water, and the cooking time depends on the individual species. The water in which the cereals are cooked is not salted until it boils. After boiling, lower the temperature and half cover the cooking vessel. Let the cereal stand for a few minutes before serving.