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Grains are a type of simple dry fruit called a caryopsis and are commonly called cereals . Cereals are mostly grasses which, typically, have hollow stems (plugged at intervals), leaves and florets.
All types of grain foods are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates. Whole grains are low in fat and have no cholesterol; they contain B-vitamins, soluble and insoluble fiber, folate, zinc, protein, iron, magnesium, phytonutrients, antioxidants, resistant starch, phytate and other substances.
Grains are of two types: true cereals (grasses) or pseudocereals (nongrasses).
- Wheat (Triticum spp.). Wheat and Maize are the largest cultivated cereal crops worldwide.
- Maize, corn (Zea mays ssp. mays) Native to the Americas.
- Rice (genus Oryza). The third largest cereal crop
- Barley (Hordeum vulgare). The fourth largest cereal crop. A unique grain in that the fiber is found in both the bran layer and the endosperm. Barley is high in fiber and may reduce cholesterol.
- Sorghum (Sorghum vulgare). The fifth largest cereal crop.
- Millet (Pennesetum glaucum).
- Rye (Secale cereale). The heartiest of the cereals.
- Oats (genus Avena). Native to Eurasia and low in gluten ¹.
- Triticale (X Triticosecale). An artificial hybrid (not from nature) of rye and wheat.
- Teff (Eragrostis tef.). Native to N. Africa (gluten free).
- Wild rice (Zizania).
- Spelt (Triticum spelta). A sub species of wheat.
- Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum).
- Amaranth (Amaranthaceae)
- Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa).
- Cockscomb (genus Celosia)
- Kaniwa (Chenopodium pallidicaule)
- Kiwichae (Amaranthus Caudatus).
- Bulgar / Cracked Wheat -- Different in that Bulgar requires the whole kernal be cooked prior to crushing whereas Cracked Wheat is crushed prior to cooking.
- Kamut (U.S.D.A. 'QK-77') (Triticum turgidum). A type of wheat.
- Graham flour -- Made by grinding the entire wheat berry including the bran.
- Kasha -- Made from crushed buckwheat (buckwheat groats ²).
- Hominy -- Dried corn (source of grits ³).
- Pearled Barley -- Hard outer layers of the grain are removed (dehulled).
- Semolina -- The heart of the durum kernel; used mainly in pasta.
- Couscous -- finely cracked wheat steamed, dried and popular in North Africa and Middle Eastern countries.
- ¹ Gluten: a protein found mainly in wheat that is responsible for kneaded dough's elasticity which allows it to be leavened.
- ² Groats: Dehulled (removal of the husk, shell, or outer covering of the grain or seed).
- ³ Grits: Coarsely ground corn (boiled).
More about grains on page 2.