Grain under the microscope

Grain under the microscope

A grain of cereal is packed with goodness. It contains a lot of carbohydrates (approximately 70 to 80%, in the form of starch); protein (like the gluten contained in wheat, which is needed to make bread; a little fat (less than 5%) from the wheat germ – we can extract oil from certain grains – and mineral salts.

The grain is divided into three main parts

A staple of the human diet, each cereal grain is made up of three distinct parts: the bran, the endosperm, and the germ.


Wholegrain products are products that contain all three parts. They contain more nutrients than products made with refined grain (where only the endosperm is preserved), in particular dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals, starch, and protein (contained in the endosperm).

What is the anatomy of wheat and barley kernels ?

anatomie grain blé
  • The outer coating (called bran in the case of wheat, and made of cellulose), is high in fibre as well as protein, minerals, Group B vitamins, and antioxidants.
  • The endosperm contains the grain's food reserves: essentially starch (complex carbohydrates) and protein (including gluten);

  • The germ (the embryo) is high in lipids, in particular unsaturated fatty acids. It also contains protein, minerals, and vitamins.

anatomie grain orge
Covered or naked?
  • Wheat and rye are referred to as naked grain. This means that it loses its outer husk (lemma) during threshing during the harvest. 

  • Other grains, like rice, barley, and oats, on the other hand, retain their husk even after threshing. This type of grain is referred to as covered or hulled grain.

Source : Passion Céréales 

What is the anatomy of a maize kernel ?

anatomie grain maïs

A maize kernel is made up of four main fractions:

  • The endosperm is the most starch-rich part of the kernel. After several milling, separation, and blending phases, a wide range of products can be obtained, from semolina, to flour, and grits.
    These ingredients are used to make breakfast cereals, biscuits, and bakery products, as well as being used by brewers.
  • The germ is used to extract virgin maize oil. Toasted maize germ can be used in a multitude of products for its notes of hazelnut and toasted cereal flavours.
  • The bran found in the grain's pericarp can be mixed with the starchy endosperm and used in the composition of complete animal feed products


Published on Thursday 9 June 2022
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