Cereal grains are dietary staples that provide a very substantial proportion of the dietary energy, protein, and micronutrients for much of the world's population. The major cereal crops are rice, maize (corn), wheat, barley, sorghum, millets, oats, and rye. Worldwide, these cereals are subjected to a very diverse range of traditional and technologically advanced processes before consumption. Thus, cereal-based foods vary enormously in their structural, storage, and sensory characteristics. Cereal-based foodstuffs also vary in nutritional value owing to inherent differences in nutrient content and to changes as a result of processing, which may be beneficial or detrimental. Cereals are also the raw materials for the production of alcoholic beverages and food ingredients including starches, syrups, and protein and fiber isolates. Furthermore, very substantial quantities of cereal enter the food chain as livestock feed.

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