Earth Grains: 10 Popular Types of Grains You Need To Know

Most Common Grains You Can Eat— Their Definitions and Health Benefits Grains remain to be a mainstay crop among several agricultural products worldwide. Their sustainability, nutrient contents, tastes and texture make this edible grass family …

types of grains

Most Common Grains You Can Eat— Their Definitions and Health Benefits

Grains remain to be a mainstay crop among several agricultural products worldwide. Their sustainability, nutrient contents, tastes and texture make this edible grass family stand out among others. 

Grains are edible seeds that belong to the family of Gramineae and Poceae. There are a lot of grain types grown across the globe and although they are all classified as grains, they come and are produced through different kinds of grass and species.

This article will help you identify all types of grains, their category, definition, features and health benefits. You can also take a look at their culinary versatility which you can do at your home.


It’s best to know that not all grains are produced organically untouched. They are typically categorized into two: (1) whole grains and (2) refined grains.

Whole Grains 

These are grains that are slightly processed just to remove their outer husks but the main parts remain intact. All grains that still have their bran, germ and endosperm upon production are called whole grains. Whole grains, although rough, are healthier than refined ones as all the nutrients that they possess are still with them even after the processing stage.

Refined Grains

These are heavily polished grains that the germ and bran are removed from. These are less healthy than whole grains as some of the nutrients that go with the germ and the bran are also removed during the process, but these have a longer shelf life than whole grains. Refined grains are also smoother and more pleasant in texture and taste than whole grains which are used to make regular pasta, white bread, crackers and many more.

10 Most Common Types of Grains

Whole Grains 

Whole grains are rich in fiber, B vitamins and minerals. They are more expensive but contain a lot of health benefits and are a great ingredient for reducing weight and for preparing your breakfast meals. Below are the most common types of whole grains.

1.    Oat  Avena sativa
Definition & Origin:Grown mostly in North America and Europe, oat is the most common type of whole grain and the easiest one to find in groceries. Oats are whole grain cereal grown for their seed. There are four (4) types of oats and the most common ones are rolled and instant oats.
Health benefits:Contains the soluble fiber beta-glucan which helps in reducing the risks of heart diseases. This is also high in protein and does not contain a significant amount of sugar hence, this is a great choice for consumers who have diabetes and other blood sugar-related problems.
Common uses:Commonly used as breakfast cereals like porridge, and used as an ingredient in pastries.
Dishes and food products:Oatmeal Cookies, Oatcakes, Oat Bread, and Rolled oats are used to make granola.
2. Quinoa  Chenopodium quinoa
Definition & Origin:Quinoa is said to have originated in the Peruvian Andes 5,000 years ago. Quinoa is not a true cereal that belongs to the Amaranth family. It has recently become popular due to its significant health benefits and unique taste.
Health benefits:Quinoa is a protein source that also contains minerals like iron and magnesium and a lot of fiber (12 grams per cup). IT is also high in carbohydrates and essential amino acids.
Common uses:Commonly added to soups, salad bowls and baked goods when cooked. Quinoa flakes are also used as an alternative to oatmeal cereals for breakfast.
Dishes and food products:Quinoa salad, pancakes, smoothies, pasta, crackers
3. Amaranth  Chenopodium quinoa
Definition & Origin:It is known to be a crop for the Aztecs, and became famous because it is a gluten-free grain. This is also considered as not a true gain as it does not belong to the Poceae grass family. 
Health benefits:Amaranth is a complete protein as it contains all nine essential amino acids. Because it does not contain gluten, this is the best choice for people who have celiac disease. This is also high in fiber, iron, magnesium., phosphorus, and potassium
Common uses:Its whole raw seed can be used as porridge when soaked in hot water. Can also be added to cookie batter, and rice dishes and can be eaten as a breakfast cereal.
Dishes and food products:Gluten-free amaranth muffins, amaranth granola bars and salads
4. Barley  Hordeum vulgare
Definition & Origin:Barley is a famous Asian grain that was first domesticated around 8,000 BCE. This is a cereal grain that belongs to the grass family Poaceae. Barley is also known to be among the world’s single most important sources of food.  
Health benefits:Barley has eight (8) types and is a great source of fiber and protein and is rich in B vitamins and minerals like magnesium and phenolic acids which help in preventing diabetes and aids in lowering cholesterol levels.
Common uses:Known as an ingredient to make beer. Also used to make bread, stews and other dishes.
Dishes and food products:Barley and Spinach Risotto, Barley and Red Rice Salad, and Barley Flour are used to make noodles (in Asia).
5. Buckwheat Fagopyrum esculentum
Definition & Origin:Buckwheat does not belong to the grass family but is used as a cereal. This was first planted as a crop in China about 6,000 years ago. Buckwheat is actually a fruit like a rhubarb, harvested for its small triangular seeds.
Health benefits:The antioxidant bioflavonoid rutin is what makes buckwheat unique among the others. Buckwheat has a high level of rutin and has vitamin Vitamins B1, C, and E.
Common uses:Known as the main ingredient of Japanese soba (noodles).
Dishes and food products:Noodles, crepes, pierogi
6. Millet 
Definition & Origin:Several related grains cultivated by ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans were termed millet, which can be red, white, yellow or grey. This was the most widely consumed grain in Asia, before rice.
Health benefits:Millet is another type of a gluten-free grain, the best option for diabetics or those with celiac disease. This is high in potassium and low in sodium and is a great source of fiber.
Common uses:Commonly used as porridge or fritters,
Dishes and food products:Porridge, pancake, bread, flour, roti & chapatti (in India)
7. Brown Rice Oryza sativa
Definition & Origin:Rice is the world’s staple crop, along with wheat. This is grown in paddies primarily in Asia. Brown rice is rice grain that still has the bran and germ layers, making it a healthier consumption than white rice.
Health benefits:Brown rice is three times higher in fiber than white rice. This is a great source of protein, potassium and B vitamins. Brown rice is rich in lignans, which curb appetite and give your gut something to feed on. That’s why this is mostly chosen by those who want to lose weight but don’t want to let go of the rice.
Common uses:Commonly paired with a viand, as a side dish, 
Dishes and food products:Sake (white wine), bran oil, and flour to produce noodles

Refined Grains

Refined grains are smoother and more pleasant in texture and taste. Although they are less healthy than whole grains, they still contain many vitamins and minerals. There are three (3) types of refined grains:

8. Wheat Triticum
Definition & Origin:Wheat is grown all over the world and has been an important part of a healthy diet. It is also the main component of the famous Mexican foods, burritos and fajitas and French pastries like a croissant.
Health benefits:Corn is an important food source that is rich in fiber and is higher in unsaturated fat than other grains. This is also gluten-free and contains beta carotene (for yellow corn).
Common uses:Cakes, bread, porridge, pasta
Dishes and food products:Bread, biscuits, pastries, crackers, savory snacks
9. Corn Zea mays
Definition & Origin:Corn was first grown by Native Americans and is one of the sweetest types of grain. It is consumed as a vegetable and once it matures and dries out, it is used like grain to make breakfast cereals and can also be eaten as corn rice. It has a high oily germ which makes it prone to rancidity that’s why most cornmeal sold in groceries is degermed.
Health benefits:Corn is an important food source that is rich in fiber and is higher in unsaturated fat than other grains. This is also gluten-free and contains beta carotene (for yellow corn).
Common uses:Popcorn, corn starch, corn rice
Dishes and food products:Corn starch, corn flour, tortillas, tacos
10. White Rice Oryza sativa
Definition & Origin:As this belongs to the refined category of grain, this rice is any type of rice with the bran and germ layers removed. This tastes more delightful than brown rice.
Health benefits:White rice is also rich in protein, potassium, B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, iron, selenium, and manganese, which are all important for bone growth and energy.
Common uses:Pairs well with most proteins, including chicken, beef, fish, and tofu and also with vegetables.
Dishes and food products:Sake (white wine), bran oil, flour to produce noodles, paella

This article covers the most common types of grains that are widely used worldwide. There are still more kinds of grains grown locally and internationally that you might want to discover and try. Reading everything about grains will be worth your time as they’re not just healthy but they’re also versatile that you can create many delectable dishes out of them.

The good thing is that, more and more physical and online stores are offering these types of grains unlike in the earlier years. This gives unprecedented convenience to consumers so they can easily grab them whenever they want. If you see some delightful recipes made out from grains, you can now easily do them at home combined with your personal touches and flavor preferences.