Grains called pseudo-cereals can take care of your daily nutrition ?

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Traditional grains like amaranth, buckwheat, chenopod, millets, pulses like rice bean and kulth are nutritional powerhouses. These grains are also called pseudo-cereals. Our society both rural and urban need to be made aware of pseudo cereals and their role in our diet and general health.cereals

These food items not  only alone  but  when  blended with other traditional  foods  such  as wheat, maize and rice can provide a very sound base for our diet and perhaps meet many of the deficient nutrients. For instance, cereals are generally deficient in lysine but amaranth is very rich in lysine if both are mixed together [75:25 ratio] makes complete bread. With impressive nutrient content available in these food plants we can alleviate nutritional deficiency in an effective manner.

What are Pseudo-cereals?

Pseudo-cereals are the grains, which are not exactly cereals, but are consumed the way cereals are consumed, nutritionally almost similar to cereals  and, therefore, called ‘pseudo-cereals’. The crops that constitute this group are amaranth, buckwheat, chenopod, millets, etc.

Does it have same nutritional value as grain?

The nutritional composition of amaranth and buckwheat in comparison to maize, wheat and rye are given in the table below, which shows that they are nutritionally rich and in some cases either better or comparable to main cereals. In addition, they possess medicinal properties, which will be discussed in the coming articles. The countries like China, Japan and Korea, Canada have exploited buckwheat to its maximum extent not only for making various food products but medicines also.

Comparative average composition of cereals and pseudo-cereals grain (/100g)

Food grain Food energy Moisture (%) Protein (g) Fat (g) Carbohydrate   (g) Ca (mg) Iron (mg) P (mg)
Buckwheat 335 11.0 13.5 7.4 72.9 114 13.2 282
Amaranth 391 9.3 15.3 7.1 63.1 490 22.4 453
Maize 385 12.0 9.2 3.9 73.7 20 256
Rye 334 11.0 12.1 1.7 73.4 38 376
Wheat 333 12.0 13.3 2.0 71.0 41 10.5 372

Source: USDA, 1998

These undoubtedly have the potential to be promoted as Health promoting foods. Small millets especially finger millet has chemical composition similar to or better than rice and wheat in some respects. Besides being rich in minerals (iron, calcium), it contains high fibre and non-starchy polysaccharides and starch with some unique characteristics.  Protein quality and essential amino acid profile of some of the millets is better than many of the cereals.

In the upcoming articles we will discuss health benefits of pseudo-cereals individually..

About the Author:
Dr. J C Rana is a Scientist currently the heading the Division of Germplasm Evaluation, ICAR-National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, Pusa Campus, New Delhi. He has received several awards & honours few of which are:
Fellow Indian Society of Genetics & Plant Breeding
Fellow Indian Society of Plant Genetic Resources
Bharat Joyti Award -2013


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