Trade Highlights
Skip Navigation Links > Home > Publicity and Education > Food Safety Educational Materials > Nutrients in five types of cereal grains
Nutrients in five types of cereal grains

The food pyramid provides guidelines for a balanced diet based on several food groups. The five types of cereal grains made up the bottom level of the pyramid, constituting the largest quantity of food in our daily meals, and are the main source of calories needed by our body. They contain a variety of nutrients, like carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, dietary fibre and minerals, to maintain proper body functions.


What are the five types of cereal grains?

They are oryza (rice, brown rice), panicum miliaceum (white millet), setaria italica (foxtail millet), poaceae (wheat, barley, buckwheat, oats) and glycine max (soybean, red bean). In general, all other cereals other than rice and flour are known as grain crops while the five types of cereal grains, together with grain crops, are generally referred to as food crops. Hence, the five types of cereal grains become a collective term for food crops.


Process of rice cultivation

  • March: Select rice seeds, nurture seedlings. Seeds sprout after soaked in water for one week.
  • April: Batches of seedlings grown in the nursery are transplanted into paddy fields.
  • May: Maintain water levels and prevent pest infestation of seedlings.
  • June to August: Dig ditches to channel water. Weeding, bird and pest control.
  • September to October: Harvesting, drying and milling of rice crops.
  • November to December: Apply manure (fertilizer) to replenish soil fertility.


Anatomy and nutritional content of rice grain

From the outside to inside, it is made up of the bran, endosperm and germ (embryo). The bran contains a high level of dietary fibre; the germ contains fats, vitamins and minerals and the endosperm is rich in starch and proteins. It is a nutritionally complete and balanced grain food.


Classification of rice varieties

  • Classified into 3 types based on their properties:

1.         Oryza sativa Indica: Translucent and long, like See Mew rice. The rice grains are cooked to become rice, congee or processed to make rice noodles, flat rice noodles and rice noodle rolls.

2.         Oryza sativa Japonica: Translucent, short and round, like pearl rice, used for making sushi, onigiri (rice ball) and sake (rice wine).

3.         Oryza sativa var. glutinosa: Dehusked, opaque white and especially sticky when cooked; used for making zongzi (sticky rice dumpling), Babao porridge and crushed to produce flour for making tong yuen (glutinous rice ball).

  • Classified into 3 types based on processing methods:

1.         Brown rice: Harvested whole grain rice with outer husk removed.

2.         Rice with germ: Brown rice is further milled to remove the bran but the germ is retained.

3.         White rice: Milled rice that has had its husk, bran and germ removed.


The nutritional value of white rice is lower compared to that of brown rice, since vitamins and minerals are lost in the removal of the bran and germ during processing, leaving only the starchy endosperm which also contains proteins. For cooking, it is recommended to mix it with brown rice to add in dietary fibre.


Where does rice come from?

Rice is exported by different countries, such as Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Japan, Mainland China, Taiwan, Cambodia, Australia, Italy, South Korea, the United States, Spain, Portugal, India, Laos, Sri Lanka, Iran and New Zealand, etc.


Food safety of rice

  • Cadmium (heavy metal) in rice:

       Presence of cadmium in rice and other food via cadmium-contaminated soil or water;

       Long-term cadmium intake impairs renal functions;

       Level of cadmium cannot be reduced by cooking.

  • Aflatoxins:

       Produced by Aspergillus flavus, a green mould visible to the eye, is colourless, tasteless and odourless;

       Commonly found in cereals, maize, peanut, tree nut and their products;

       Heat-stable and unable to be destroyed by general cooking process;

       Intake of high levels of aflatoxins in a short period of time may cause acute food poisoning, whose symptoms include fever, vomiting and jaundice. Long-term intake may lead to liver cancer.


How to eat safely?

  • Smart purchase

       Buy from reputable and hygienic shops;

       Upon purchase, check the expiry date of the food products and whether they are displayed in a cool, dry and well-ventilated place;

       Show no signs of mould or pest infestation;

       Never buy food products whose packaging is unclean, opened or damaged;

       Avoid buying too much food at one time.

  • Proper storage

        Keep food in cool, dry and well-ventilated place and avoid direct sunlight;

       Adopt “first in, first out” principle and avoid overstocking;

       Avoid food spoilage or pest infestation due to prolonged storage;

       Store pre-packaged food products according to instructions given on their packaging;

       Opened food must be kept in clean and air-tight containers.

  • Discard food with abnormalities

       Discard immediately food with damaged packaging, abnormal tastes, or having other abnormal conditions such as mouldy and soggy.

  • Proper handling

       Do not over-wash rice to avoid nutrient loss;

       Rice must be thoroughly cooked before consumption.



Last Updated on 07/02/2017
Please use a browser in Internet Explorer 11 with 1024x768 or higher resolution.
SiteMap   |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Use  |  Copyright notice  |  Disclaimer
Food Safety Hotline
Food Safety in Winter
Four Keys to Food Safety (ABCD)
Food Trade Registration Scheme
Food Hygiene Supervisor Incentive Program
Focus of Concern
Food Safety Law & Standards
Identification No. of Food Additives Search
Food Safety App