NUTRITION CORNER: Cereals provide about 30% of the total calories in the diet

Health authorities say that cereals are probably the biggest source of energy because they provide almost 30% of the total calories in the diet. This makes cereals the most important commodity in many places in the world especially in rural areas where poor income families can not afford to buy other food products such as fruits, meat, and milk products. In those places, cereals are the most taken food as they become the major energy provider for these poor families.

Cereals have a high mineral content as they contain sulphates and phosphates of magnesium, potassium and calcium. A good amount of phosphorous in cereals is present with the name phytin and these phylates are vital in reducing the activity of iron absorption.  Zinc, copper and manganese are also present in cereals in very small quantities.

Cereals are rich in phytosterols which help reduce the chances of breast cancer. Researches show that phytosterols bind to estrogen receptor present in the tissues of the breast and blocks human oestrogen that promotes the growth of breast cancer. Studies also show that eating whole wheat products or any fiber rich cereals prevent colon cancers.  Phytosterols increase the stool movement through the intestines, thereby constricting the reabsorption time of the oestrogen into the blood through the colon wall.

Cereals contain both the insoluble and soluble fibers such as cellulose, pectin and hemicellulose that help cure extreme constipation problems. They also keep the internal system clean by improving peristalsis in the intestine and increasing the bulk of the stools.

The fiber content in cereals also maintains the sugar levels in the blood as it decreases the speed of secretion of glucose from foods which we consume.

Cereals have very high protein content. Health authorities say proteins are essential nutrients for the human body, and one of the building blocks of the body tissue and good source of fuel.

Researches show that although cereals are full of nutrition, many nutrients are lost due to refining process and during food preparation, especially through vigorous washing, soaking and cooking methods resulting in the depletion of the nutrients on the skin of the grains.#