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What is Grain?

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Last updated date: 16th Jul 2024
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An Introduction to Grains: Grains with Names

A grain is a tiny, dry, hard, harvested seed of grasses like oats, corn, rice and wheat. Other less popular grains with names’ examples are millet, barley, rye and sorghum. Like wheat, these also have an ‘ear’ of grains on each stem. All grains are secured by a husk and inside this husk, we can find the actual seed. Some grains can be eaten whole while some have to be ground into flour (grain powder). 


What do slices of bread, rotis, pasta, pastries, cakes and breakfast cereals have in common? The answer is that all of these items are made from wheat which is the most important crop or grain in the world. Wheat is so important in man’s life that it is called a staple food, it is the main food consumed daily by over 35 per cent of the world population.

 

Safekeeping of Grains


A Modern Storehouse for Storing Grains Safely


A Modern Storehouse for Storing Grains Safely


Special storehouses are utilised for storing grains until it is to be packed. These buildings are called granaries. A granary keeps the grains safe from hungry animals and insects. After harvesting crops, farmers stock up the granaries for storing them until they are to be sold or used.


Food Grains Names List

There are many different types of grains. The following are the most common food grain examples consumed by people all over the world. 

  • Wheat

  • Oats

  • Rice

  • Corn

  • Amaranth

  • Sorghum

  • Farro

  • Teff

  • Rye

  • Freekeh

  • Barley

  • Buckwheat

  • Bulgur 

  • Quinoa 

  • Couscous


Different Types of Grains - Let’s Find Out!

Maize (Corn)

In subtropical and tropical countries, corn or maize is the main staple food for many people. It is consumed as cornmeal, as a vegetable, or is ground into flour. Corn oil is extracted from corn which is then used for salad dressings or as a cooking oil. 


Corn is a type of crop which needs a lot of sunshine to grow - it is usually grown in hotter climates, but can also grow in colder regions as long as sunshine is plenty. However, the varieties of corn differ in different climates. 


Maize is a major food in the hotter regions of Africa and Central, Northern, and Southern America. Maize is tended by hand or can be grown on a large scale by using machinery. 


Maize is seen in all sorts of colours, it can be spotted, speckled, streaked or even striped. Tortilla chips and tacos use maize as their main ingredient! 



Rice

Like wheat and corn, rice is also a staple food. Rice is consumed daily by at least 2 billion people. Ninety per cent of the world's rice production happens in Asia. Rice is a swamp plant, that is, it grows with its roots submerged under water. Its hollow stems allow the flow of oxygen to reach the roots.


Let’s have a look at how rice is grown in 4 simple steps - 

  • Preparing the Fields

The paddy rice fields are watered, ploughed, raked and flattened. 

  • Planting

Seeds are pre-sprouted and then moved to these paddy fields. These seeds are planted in such a way (usually in straight lines) that they have plenty of space to grow. 

  • Harvesting

This rice is ready to be harvested in three to six months’ time. The fields are drained out and the plants are cut down, tied and then they are left to dry. 

  • Winnowing

The whole rice is then beaten to remove the actual rice grains. These grains are then sieved, tossed and crushed in order to remove any pieces of husk that were remaining. 


Technological Advancements


A Tractor in the Fields


A Tractor in the Fields


In this modern era, even agriculture is highly mechanised. Tractors are used for preparing the fields, the seeds are sown with the help of aeroplanes and harvester machines collect the ripe plants. 


Uses of Grains

Grains are naturally high in fibre, helping you feel full and satisfied — which makes it easier to maintain a healthy body weight. Whole grains are also linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and other health problems. Some uses of grains are as follows:

  • High in nutrients and fibre

  • Lower your risk of heart disease

  • Lower your risk of stroke

  • Reduce your risk of obesity

  • Lower your risk of type 2 diabetes

  • Support healthy digestion


Importance of Grains

Despite widespread consumption, many people remain unsure whether grains support health. Some think they are an essential component of a healthy diet, while others believe that they cause harm. The truth is, whole grains in particular are linked to numerous health benefits and are mostly considered very nutritious.


Experts have recommended eating 5 to 8 ounces of grains per day, 3 to 6 ounces of which should be whole grains. For reference, one ounce of grains is equivalent to one slice of bread or half a cup of cooked pasta or rice.


Summary

Grains are super nutritious, and the consumption of grains is associated with a lower risk of several fatal diseases. Grains contain minerals such as iron, selenium, and magnesium. They also contain dietary fiber and carbohydrates that are essential to man. A balanced diet always contains some or the other type of grain. Grain is the harvested seed of grasses such as wheat, oats, rice, and corn. Other important grains include sorghum, millet, rye, and barley. Around the globe, grains, also called cereals, are the most important staple food. Humans get an average of 48 percent of their calories, or food energy, from grains.

FAQs on What is Grain?

1. Where is millet and sorghum eaten?

Millet and sorghum grains are consumed in the drier parts of Asia and Africa. These are tough and will grow with very little water, too. Millet is cooked as porridge while sorghum is consumed along with spicy stews to make it flavourful. Millet is gluten-free and rich in protein, fibre, and antioxidant-rich, making it popular in Western countries. It is important for men to consume nutritious food in order to stay healthy. Millet and sorghum also take more time to grow than other common grains thus making them expensive.

2. Is it true that if the same crop is grown every year on the same land, the soil loses its fertility?

Yes, it is true. The soil loses its fertility and also diseases and pests can build up in such a case. The farmers prevent such a situation by not growing the same plant (crop) every year. Throughout human history, there seems to be some form of crop rotation farming being practised wherever edible crops have been grown. This is also applicable to the balance of diet that all people should follow. To stay healthy, it is required to consume all types of grains.

3. What happens if you don't eat grains?

A grain-free diet may help with weight loss, reduce inflammation, and improve digestion and blood sugar levels.