Difference Between Cereals and Pulses

Cereals are grasses belonging to the Poaceae family. They are extremely rich in their carbohydrate content and are mass-produced across many countries. Pulses, on the other hand, are leguminous crops responsible for producing pods. They have a highly rich protein content, however, are produced in lesser quantities than cereals.     


Grown by humans and consumed by both humans and animals, both cereals and pulses classify under grains, are small and dry, resembling a hard seed in terms of how they look. These are widely consumed in countries across the world owing to their high nutritional value. China is the number one country in the world that produces the highest number of cereals. India is the top consumer, producer and importer when it comes to pulses. 


Cereals

Classifying as grains, cereals are grass that comes under the Poaceae family. They are rich in oils, fats, carbohydrates and minerals, which is the reason behind cereals being produced in large quantities. Cereals do not contain a high amount of calcium, vitamin A or carbohydrates; regardless they are the staple food in many countries across the world. 

The most commonly produced cereals are corn, oats, rye, rice, wheat, barley and sorghum. 


Importance of Cereals

Regardless of the high energy value and carbohydrate content cereals have, their production cost is really low when compared to other food items in the market. Additionally, the fact that cereals can be stored and kept intact for a really long time only increases its value. 

Production of cereals in large scale is dependent on various factors like the climate, condition of the soil, geographic location of the country and more. Climate plays a major factor in the cultivation of cereals; for example, while wheat can grow on various kinds of soil except for cold deserts, barley can be cultivated in soil that is less fertile and more barren. Most cereals are consumed by humans, sold in their raw forms for consumption, used as ingredients in manufacturing other food products or used as animal feed for cattle or poultry.


Cereals also have industrial application- they are often used in the production of certain types of alcohol, oils, adhesives, glucose, biofuels and more. 


Pulses

Grain legumes or often terms as dry seeds, pulses, are produced lesser in quantity than cereals but have a high value of proteins, iron, vitamins, amino acids and fibres. The family of pulses consist of 12 kinds of crops that include chickpeas, lentils, dry beans, dry peas, cowpeas, vetches, dry broad beans, pigeon peas, Bambara beans etc. 


Importance of Pulses

Pulses are available in a variety of forms including broad beans, kidney beans, butter beans, lima beans and more- some of which are in the form of a variety of seeds. Their high nutrient value and protein-rich quality make them a good option as an alternative diet, especially in cases where there is a lack of protein intake like dairy products, eggs or meat. 

Additionally, pulses are really important when it comes to lowering cholesterol levels or controlling the blood sugar levels due to their rich fibre and low-fat content. They also help in combating obesity, diabetes and heart issues; this is another reason why regular pulse intake is advised by dieticians and medical practitioners across the world. 

Pulses are economically important too. Certain countries mass-produce pulses; in which case it not only adds value to the farmers who cultivate pulses but also to the overall economy by balancing the import-export factor and bringing about both financial stability and food availability. 


Also, pulses are leguminous crops, which means they can use the parasitic microorganisms in their roots to absorb the nitrogen present in the atmosphere. This ability to fix the nitrogen content also comes in handy to increase the fertility levels of the soil, in turn, increasing the productivity level of the area and also helping to promote biodiversity.  Naturally, this nitrogen-fixing ability also helps in maintaining the overall health of the environment since the use of man-made fertilizers that are often harmful takes a backseat.


Here is a list of the most important differences between Cereals and Pulses, along with their characteristic features, functions and examples. 

Difference Between Cereals and Pulses

Characteristic 

Cereals 

Pulses

Definition

Forms of harvested grass, cereals are produced in many countries for their starch content.

Forms of leguminous crops, pulses are harvested as dry seeds that mostly grow inside a pod.

Nutrients

They have a higher content of carbohydrates present in them.

They have high levels of amino acids and are rich in protein; though the levels of carbohydrates are lower.  

Production

Production of cereals is in large scale since they are highly rich in carbohydrates. In a number of countries, cereals are a staple form of food.

Mass production of proteins is not common since they are low in carbohydrates and high in proteins.

Conditions for growth

All kinds of soil are suitable for growing cereals since they grow as forms of grass, except for deserts and colder environments.

Pulses grow inside a pod that may give anywhere between one to twelve seeds at once.

Classification

Kingdom: Plantae.

Order: Poales.

Family: Poaceae.

Kingdom: Plantae.

Order: Fabales.

Family: Leguminosae.

Examples

Corn, oats, rye, rice, wheat, barley and sorghum.

Chickpeas, lentils, dry beans, dry peas, cowpeas, vetches, dry broad beans, pigeon peas, Bambara beans

Countries produced

Cereals are mass-produced and a staple food for consumption in China, Brazil , India, USA and Russia. 

India is the largest producer of pulses followed by countries like Myanmar, Brazil, Australia, China, Nigeria, Canada and USA.


While each have their own importance, both cereals and pulses are essential and need to be corporated into any diet, since both of them offer high sources of nutrient value. Consumption of sufficient quantity of both these grains will go a long way in helping retain a good diet and also help in staying healthy. 


While cereals are rich in carbohydrates, pulses are rich in proteins, amino acids, vitamin A and vitamin C. While the former involves large scale farming and production, the latter includes production on a smaller scale, however in terms of importance, both are as vital as the other.