Barley, rye, millet – lesser-known cereals

21st September 2020

Most baby foods contain a wide variety of cereals. However, once children stop eating them, their consumption of less common cereals, such as barley, rye and millet, is reduced considerably, with the focus instead on wheat, rice and corn. But we should not forget that barley, rye and millet are also excellent options and sources of nutrients.

While your child is eating baby foods, search for ones that contain a variety of cereals. Once your child stops eating such foods, try to include all types of cereals in his diet, and your whole family's diet, as they will help you have a more varied diet that is rich in different flavours and textures.

Wheat and rice are the most commonly used cereals in many countries. In fact, the majority of the foods we eat that are made with cereals contain wheat. However, there is a wide variety of cereals in nature that we can incorporate into our diet to make it richer and more varied, such as barley, rye and millet. We discuss the properties of these cereals below.

Barley (Hordeum vulgare): used when making breads, breakfast cereals and muesli, as well as beer. Barley flour can be refined or whole, and in the latter case it is an excellent source of fibers. It is a high-energy food and has traditionally been considered a "fortifying" food. It is also high in minerals, such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium.

Rye (Secale cereale L.): a cereal with a high baking capacity, so it is usually used to make breads.

 Its fibre and mucilage content makes it a cereal that highly promotes bowel transit. Nutritionally, it is high in selenium and B-group vitamins.

Millet (Panicum miliaceum): a cereal that does not contain gluten, making it a good option for coeliacs.

Its sweet, pleasant flavour makes it useful as a substitute for other cereals when preparing different dishes. Depending on how it is cooked, the results can be a final texture that is firmer and similar to rice or one that is softer like mashed potato. Nutritionally, it is high in magnesium.

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