Cereals have a long history of use by humans. Cereals can be defined as a grain or edible seed of the grass family. They are grown for their highly nutritious edible seeds, which are often referred to as grains. Some cereals have been staple foods both directly for human consumption and indirectly via livestock feed since the beginning of civilisation. Cereals are the most important sources of food and cereal based foods are a major source of energy, protein, B vitamins and minerals for the world population.

Generally, cereals are cheap to produce, are easily stored and transported, and do not deteriorate readily if kept dry. Cereals are staple foods, and are important sources of nutrients in both developed and developing countries.

Technical aspects of cereals

Although various cereals are grown in different counties depending on climatic conditions, maize, wheat and rice are the most important of the cereals. Cereals are grown for export as well as for domestic use and a number of different processes are used. These processes can affect the nutritional and technical properties of the end product.

The role of cereals in health and disease

Cereals have a long history of use by humans, dating back to prehistoric times. Cereals are staple foods, with current estimates of annual cereal consumption at 166 kg per capita in developing countries and 133 kg in developed countries (FAO 2003). Annual per capita cereal consumption averages xxxx kg. Cereals provide a range of macro- and micronutrients and a high consumption of cereals has been associated with a decreased risk of developing several chronic diseases.