Cereals were for centuries the basis of the human diet.
Prepared very simply, boiled, toasted, in hamburgers or in breads. Today, they are still the essential ally of traditional dishes: wheat semolina and couscous; rice and sushi; corn and tortilla; flour and pizza; buckwheat and cookies.
They are also available in more sophisticated products: special breads, cookies, cakes, breakfast flakes and petals, bars…
Wheat, rice and corn are the most consumed cereals.
However, more resistant cereals are being revived such as rye, barley, oats, buckwheat, spelt, sorghum, millet, kamut, quinoa (assimilated to a cereal due to its composition). Valued by cooks and bakers, they are fashionable in the organic aisles.
Cereals, energy foods
Cereals are the only foods (along with potatoes and legumes) that provide complex carbohydrates (such as starch): 70 to 75% in pasta, or rice, 50 to 55% in bread.
Its digestion provides glucose (sugar), the body’s preferred fuel, and the sole fuel for the brain and red blood cells.
Its caloric intake is generally reasonable, for example, 100 kcal per 100 g of cooked pasta (3 spoons) or 40 g of bread (1/6 of baguette).
Another advantage of unrefined cereals is their fiber: it regulates intestinal transit, protects against certain cancers (colon cancer in particular) and for some (oats, barley) it is able to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood.
Cereals are also good sources of vegetable protein, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and vitamins B1, B9, PP.
Not all cereal foods are created equal.
The preferred grain products are the rawest of all.
They retain almost all their fiber, minerals and vitamins (refinement can reduce the content of these nutrients by a factor of 3!).
Its carbohydrates are slowly digested, ensuring good satiety from one meal to the next.
Ideal for not biting and for staying in shape! They do not raise blood sugar levels too high and are suitable for people with diabetes.
On the other hand, the starch in some cereal products can be digested very quickly when it has been modified by a physical treatment: do not overuse pre-cooked rice, breakfast petals made from refined cereals, cookies (overcooked). Be careful also with cereal products that hide lipids (up to 30% in some cookies or cakes).
For a balanced diet: eating cereals
According to the National Health and Nutrition Program, we must eat a starchy food at every meal.
This is to rebalance our meals, which are too low in carbohydrates (representing only 44% of our calories, instead of the recommended 50 to 55%) and too high in fat (39% instead of 30 to 35%).
The recommended amount is 500 to 700 g per day, depending on energy needs.
Cereal products (bread, muesli, oatmeal) are the mainstay of breakfast, or even a snack, ideally combined with a dairy product and fruit.
For lunch and dinner, cereals can be eaten in the form of bread, as a starter (noodles in a soup, corn in a salad), as a main dish (rice and fish, wholemeal cake), or as a dessert (milk semolina, cake…).
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