CIMMYT Series on Carbohydrates, Wheat, Grains, and Health: Carbohydrates, Grains, and Wheat in Nutrition and Health: An Overview. Part II. Grain Terminology and Nutritional Contributions1,2
To address many current claims that disparage and discourage the ingestion of carbohydrates (CHOs), wheat, and cereal grains, as well as to celebrate the versatility, nutritional and health benefits, and contribution of these foods to the world food supply, we felt compelled to defend their role in the diet and write a series of reviews. Where data exist, cereal grains and wheat as a source of CHOs and other important nutrients are the focus. In this second review, grain- and wheat-based staples are shown to be important contributors of CHOs (including cereal fiber), as well as necessary proteins, vitamins, and minerals, as part of a balanced diet for most healthy individuals. The terminology associated with grains and whole grains and their processing also is discussed and defined. Dietary fiber and resistant starch are defined, and a whole grain food characterization is provided. Clear delineation of terms is critical because they differ from country to country and are a source of consumer confusion in nutrition education and labeling. CHO-rich staple foods, including those from an array of whole and enriched/fortified refined grains, are inexpensive sources of a wide variety of nutrients, dietary fibers, and phytochemicals. This combination uniquely positions them as a source of nutrition to both sustain and nourish a global population.