Grain under the microscope

Le grain à la loupe

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

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).

The anatomy of wheat and barley kernels


Anatomy of a wheat kernel

 

  • 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.


Anatomy of a barley kernel

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

Anatomy of a maize kernel

A maize kernel is made up of four main fractions:

Anatomy of a maize kernel

 

  • 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