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Difference between Cereals and Pulses, Practice Problems and FAQs

Healthy lifestyle is one of the most important habits we need to adapt for a better living. Eating healthy foods, doing exercises, avoiding junk foods, doing things which makes your mind and body happy etc., are some of the ways to be in a healthy lifestyle. Having healthy foods is the easiest way to be healthy. If you look into the Indian food habits, we can see the usage of more food items like rice, wheat, oats, maize, chickpeas, Bengal grams, soybeans, green peas etc.

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Fig: A typical Indian meal

What can we call these food items in common? We can include wheat, rice, oats and maize in a group called cereals. Chickpeas, Bengal grams, soybeans and green peas in a group called pulses. So cereals and pulses are an important part of the Indian diet and we are the largest producers of pulses in the world. Even though these two terms such as cereals and pulses are used together most of the time, we may get confused about what all plants are included in each group and what are their major differences. So in this article we are going to discuss more about the differences between cereals and pulses.

Table of contents

Cereals

Any grass cultivated for the edible components of its grain are called cereals. They are a type of fruit called caryopsis according to Botany and it is composed of endosperm, germ and bran. In them the pericarp or fruit wall is inseparably fused with the testa of the seed. After the removal of the bran and germ while processing the cereals, the remaining endosperm is mostly carbohydrate. Compared to any other crops, cereals provide more food energy, thus produced in greater quantities world wide. Hence they are also called staple crops.

Fig: Cereals

Composition of cereals

Cereals are rich in the following components:

  • Vitamins
  • Proteins
  • Carbohydrates
  • Minerals
  • Fats
  • Oils

Examples of cereals

Most of the cereals are included under the grass family, Poaceae. Some of the examples of cereals are as follows:

  • Wheat (Triticum)
  • Maize (Zea mays)
  • Rice (Oryza sativa)
  • Barley (Hordeum vulgare)
  • Oats (Avena sativa)
  • Rye (Secale cereale)
  • Great millet (Sorghum bicolor)

Fig: Cereals

Pulses

The edible and dried seeds of the legume plants are called pulses. They usually grow in pods and they vary in their colour, shape and size. The legumes are considered as the annual crops and they are harvested as dry grains. Pulses are nutritious and healthy and they are easy to cook too. They are rich in proteins and amino acids and a good source of iron, fibres and vitamins. They are not cultivated in larger quantities compared to cereals and not considered as a staple food. But hundreds of varieties of pulses are cultivated throughout the world.

Fig: Pulses

Major benefits of pulses

The major benefits of cultivating pulses are as follows:

  • It improves soil quality.
  • It decreases greenhouse gases.
  • It requires less water than any other crops.
  • The symbiotic microbes associated with the plants help in fixing nitrogen.
  • It increases productivity of other crops.

Fig: Benefits of cultivating pulses

The term ‘pulses’ is limited to crops harvested solely as dry grains, which differentiates them from other vegetable crops that are harvested while still green.

Examples of pulses

Pulses belong to the family Leguminosae and few examples are as follows:

  • Chickpeas, garbanzo beans or Bengal gram (Cicer arietinum)

Fig: Chickpeas

  • Lentils (Lens culinaris) - Lens shaped seeds

Fig: Lentils

  • Green peas (Pisum sativum) - Green and yellow varieties are available.

Fig: Dry peas

  • Kidney beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) - Kidney shaped seeds with smooth surface.

Fig: Dry beans

Difference between cereals and pulses

The major differences between cereals and pulses are as follows:

Cereals

Pulses

Plants included in the family Poaceae

Plants included in the family Leguminosae

They belong to the order Poales

They belong to the order Fabales

They are rich in carbohydrates

They are rich in proteins and amino acids

They are produced in large quantities

They are produced in less quantities

It is a staple food

It is not a staple food

They are cultivated in all types of soils, except cold areas and desert regions

They are cultivated in well drained black cotton and red laterite soils

They are not formed in pods

Fig: Caryopsis

Pulses are formed in pods and each pod yields 1 to 12 seeds

Fig: Pod with seeds

They are good source of vitamin A, vitamin B12, dietary fibres, and calcium

They are good source of amino acids, fibres, vitamins, and minerals

Examples include rice, barley, wheat, corn, and maize

Fig: Cereals

Examples include lentils, chickpeas, cow beans, and dry beans

Fig: Pulses

Practice Problems

1. Which of the following differentiates the cereals from pulses?

  1. Any grass cultivated for the edible components of its grain are called cereals
  2. They are a type of fruit called caryopsis
  3. They usually grow in pods
  4. They are also called staple crops

Solution: Any grass cultivated for the edible components of its grain are called cereals. They are a type of fruit called caryopsis according to Botany and it is composed of endosperm, germ and bran. After the removal of the bran and germ while processing the cereals, the remaining endosperm is mostly composed of carbohydrates. Compared to any other crops, cereals are providing more energy, thus produced in greater quantities world wide. Hence they are also called staple crops. Examples include wheat, rice etc. The edible and dried seeds of the legume plants are called pulses. They usually formed in pods and they vary in their colour, shape and size. Examples include peas, lentils etc. Hence the correct option is c.

Fig: Cereals and pulses

2. Which of the following are the benefits of cultivating pulses?

  1. Improves soil quality
  2. Decreases greenhouse gases
  3. Requires less water than any other crops
  4. All the above

Solution: The edible and dried seeds of the legume plants are called pulses. They usually grow in pods and they vary in their colour, shape and size. The legumes are considered as the annual crops and they are harvested as dry grains. Pulses are nutritious and healthy and they are easy to cook too. Examples include Bengal gram, peas etc. The following are the major benefits of cultivating the pulses.

  • Improving the soil quality
  • Decreasing greenhouse gases
  • They require less water than any other crops.

Hence the correct option is d.

Fig: Garden pea

3. Which of the following is not a cereal?

  1. Barley
  2. Lentils
  3. Oats
  4. Rye

Solution: Any grass cultivated for the edible components of its grain are called cereals. They are a type of fruit called caryopsis according to Botany and it is composed of endosperm, germ and bran. Most of the cereals are included under the grass family, Poaceae. Some of the examples of cereals are wheat, maize, rice, barley, oats, rye, Sorghum etc. The edible and dried seeds of the legume plants are called pulses. They usually grow in pods and they vary in their colour, shape and size. Pulses belong to the family Leguminosae and some of the examples of pulses are chickpeas (garbanzo beans or Bengal gram), lentils (lens shaped seeds), green peas (seeds with cracked seed coats) and kidney beans (kidney shaped seeds with smooth surface). Hence the correct option is b.

Fig: Lentils

4. Choose the correct answer for the following characteristics.

  1. Plants included in the family Poaceae.
  2. Rich in carbohydrates.
  3. Good source of vitamin A, Vitamin B12, dietary fibres, and calcium.
  4. Cultivated in all types of soils, except cold areas and desert regions.
  1. Rice, barley, wheat
  2. Corn, maize, cow peas
  3. Lentils, chickpeas, cow peas
  4. Cow peas, kidney beans, wheat

Solution: Any grass cultivated for the edible components of its grain are called cereals. They are a type of fruit called caryopsis according to Botany and it is composed of endosperm, germ and bran. They are included in the family Poaceae and belong to the order Poales. They are rich in carbohydrates and produced in large quantities. Cereals are considered as the staple food which can be cultivated in all types of soils, except for cold areas and desert regions. They are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin B12, dietary fibres, and calcium. The examples of cereals include rice, barley, wheat, corn, and maize. Hence the correct option is a.

Fig: Cereals

FAQs

1. What are pseudocereals?

Answer: Any non-grasses that can be used like cereals are called pseudo cereals or pseudo grains. The seeds of pseudocereals can be ground into flour and otherwise used as a cereal. This character distinguishes it from non-cereals. Examples include chia seeds (Salvia hispanica), quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa), buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) etc.

Fig: Quinoa

2. How do pulses differ from legumes?

Answer: A plant belongs to the Fabaceae family with its stems, leaves, and pods is called a legume. The edible seeds from the legume plant present inside the pods are called pulses. It is harvested as dry seeds. Examples include beans, lentils, and peas.

Fig: Pulse and legume

3. What is the role of cereals in the brewery industry?

Answer: Cereals are rich in starch content and hence they are used in the brewery industry. By the fermentation of starches the beer and other industrial alcohols are produced from them. The major cereals used for fermentation are barley, wheat, maize, rice etc.

Fig: Fermentation of wheat

4. Which is the Indian state that produces more pulses?

Answer: In the financial year of 2022 Rajasthan was the largest producer of pulses. It was recorded that they produced 19 percent more pulses than other Indian states. The second largest producer of pulses is Madhya Pradesh, which produced 18 percent more.

 

 

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