What Are Cereals?

Cereals are grasses that are grown because they are edible. More cereal crops, also known as grains, are grown worldwide than any other type of crops. The five cereal crops that are grown the most worldwide are corn, rice, wheat, barley and sorghum. Corn is the second most-grown crop in the world, following sugar cane. Other cereal grains include millet, oats, rye, triticale and spelt.

Cereals are a good source of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients when they are eaten as whole grains. In developing nations, cereals are often the primary food eaten. Once the bran and germ of the cereal is removed, however, most of the nutrients are stripped away from the grain, leaving mostly carbohydrates.

Another use of the word "cereal" refers to versions of cereal grains processed and served as a breakfast food. Cereals can be healthy breakfast choices if they include whole grains that contain a high fiber and nutrient content because they haven't had the bran and germ stripped away. Cereals that are refined, meaning the bran and germ are removed, do not have health benefits. These cereals are often filled with sugar and artificial ingredients. Reading nutrition labels on cereal packages allows consumers to verify their fiber and sugar content to ensure they are buying healthy cereals.