All too often, cereals or grains are thought of as nothing more than starchy fillers but they offer a wealth of nutrients. Cereals are, after all, the seeds of plants, usually members of the grass famil, and contain all of the nutrients needed for a young plant to grow.

Corn, also known as sweet corn, Indian corn, or maize is native to the American continents, where people began to cultivate it by about 5000 BC. It was a particularly important food crop for in the Inca, Aztec and Maya peoples.


Famous for growing oats, Scotland remains the ‘home’ of this increasingly popular cereal. Cultivated since 1000 BC in Europe, oat grains are well known for being rolled and turned into ‘porridge oats’ but are also flaked, made into biscuit style breakfast cereals and into oatmeal and flour.

By 2800BC, rice was already a staple food throughout China and it soon took on a similar role of importance in India.

Not surprisingly, wheat is one of the worlds’ most important plant foods. Of the two varieties of wheat, hard versions are used in bread and pasta making and have the most protein, while soft wheat, used in cakes and biscuits has less protein. Both give us carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals.

Did You Know?

White rice provides quick release energy by raising blood sugar quickly after eating.

Both white and wholemeal breads give us bone building calcium.



Corn was introduced to Europe in the 1700’s. Great for carbohydrates corn also gives us several minerals, including potassium and magnesium.



Oats give us more protein weight for weight than other cereals, and are well known for their cholesterol-lowering value which comes mostly from their soluble fibre.



The nutritional value of rice depends on the extent of milling it undergoes. Brown rice gives us around 2g of fibre per 100g. White rice contains no fibre.



Although its origins are the subject of some debate, it is likely that wheat was the first cultivated from wild species in South west Asia in about 8000 BC.