Cereal grains have formed the foundation of a healthy diet for thousands of years. They are rich in complex carbohydrates, are a good source of fibre, and also a significant source of some key vitamins and minerals (for example B-group vitamins, magnesium & selenium). Grains are naturally low in fat and provide valuable carbohydrate energy, so it is easy to see why nutrition experts agree that grain-based foods are the ideal basis for a healthy diet1,2. Fortified grain based foods such as breakfast cereals help to boost the nutrient density of the diet1, and increased consumption of these is recommended in The Food Dome, the dietary guideline for Arab countries2.
The role of grains in health extends beyond the provision of nutrients. Cereal foods promote satiety3, reduce excess calorie intake, and also appear to be a key driver of healthier dietary patterns3,4. Regular consumption of cereal foods, especially those high in fibre, may also play a role in the prevention of chronic diet-related diseases such as coronary heart disease and diabetes5.
Today, breakfast cereals are still based on natural grains – including wheat, maize, rice and oats. Made from either flour or whole grains, they contain many of the basic nutrients that we need to start the day: carbohydrates, protein, minerals, vitamins and fibre.
Breakfast cereals are manufactured using simple processes. After milling to remove the outer husks, cereal grains are mixed with malt, water, and, in some cases, a controlled amount of salt and sugar. The mixture is then cooked under steam pressure and cooled. Once cooled, the mix is shaped, dried, and toasted, then mixed with other ingredients such as dried fruits, before being packaged and transported to shops for consumers to enjoy.
Breakfast cereals are a food that both adults and children enjoy, and make a significant nutritional contribution to the diets of people who consume them regularly.