Grains are the small, hard, dry fruits eaten as staple foods in most cuisines. Being hard and dry, grains are easy to store and transport. They also have a much longer shelf life than other agricultural crops, such as vegetables and fruits. These factors make them suitable for industrial agriculture.
Commercially, grains can be classified into cereals and legumes. Cereals come from plants in the Grass or Poaceae family and are considered to be ‘grains’ in the general sense. Legumes belong to the Fabaceae family. The list below only includes the most common cereal grains grown and consumed worldwide.
List of the Most Common Types of Cereal Grains
- Maize (Corn)
- Job’s Tears
- Wild Rice
- Japanese Millet
- Finger Millet
- Kodo Millet
- Proso Millet
- Pearl Millet
- Foxtail Millet
Starchy dry fruits from other families may also have similar uses as grains. They are called pseudocereal grains and include the following:
Grains contain almost all the essential nutrients, being excellent sources of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fats. They have 3 parts – bran (outermost layer), endosperm (the fleshy middle portion), and germ (innermost part). The bran contains most vitamins, minerals, and fibers, while the endosperm has the proteins and carbohydrates. The germ contains proteins, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and oils.
Many cereal grains, like rice and corn, are sources of some of the most widely consumed vegetable oils.