Nutrition & Health: Grain Facts


What are cereal grains?

croissants Cereal grains are members of the cereal family of plants that includes wheat, oats, barley, rye, triticale, corn and rice. The seeds or seed kernels of grain plants are harvested at maturity and can be stored for many months or even years. Cereal grains are the source of the majority of staple foods consumed throughout the world.

Canada’s climate is ideally suited to production of cereal grains across vast regions of the country in 9 of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories. Wheat is Canada's most important cereal grain crop, Oats are also produced in large quantities in both eastern and western Canada. Corn is the most widely grown cereal grain crop in eastern Canadian provinces.

Wheat Products: What is wheat flour?

Wheat flour is a food ingredient that is manufactured from the kernel or "berry" harvested from mature wheat plants. The milling process has evolved over thousands of years, but still involves grinding (milling) of whole wheat grains into finely granulated powders (flours) and coarsely granulated meals (semolinas) and fibre fractions (bran) that can be easily mixed with other food ingredients or further processed in some fashion into foods that are ready to eat.

Wheat Products: Classes of Wheat

Hard Wheat Includes hard winter wheats and hard spring wheats, which contain more gluten-producing proteins than soft wheat. Used for making bakery flours, bread flours, and all purpose flours.
Soft Wheat Low in gluten-producing proteins. Usually milled into cake, pastry or cake and pastry flours.
Durum Wheat Generally high in gluten-producing proteins. Used for making semolina and flours which are made into Indian flat bread, macaroni and other pastas.

For additional information on classes of Canadian milling wheat, please visit the Canadian Grain Commission web site.

What are oat products?

The process for milling oats is very similar to that used for milling wheat. The outer layers of the oat kernel (hull and bran) are separated from the inner portion (endosperm) of the oat kernel. The various components of the oat kernel are flaked and ground and in some cases pre-gelatinized (partially cooked) and dried to produce a wide range of food products and food ingredients. Examples of oat products are rolled oats, flaked oats, oat bran, and oat flour.

Oat products are used in a wide variety of ready to cook and ready to eat breakfast cereals and nutritious portable snacks such as granola bars.

What are corn products?

Corn products manufactured from dry milling that is similar to the milling process for wheat and oats include corn flour, corn grits and corn bran. Corn products are also widely used in breakfast cereals, bakery products, tortilla wraps, taco shells and snack foods.