URBANA, Ill. — Cereal grains are a staple of human diets all
over the world. However, cereal grains do not all make the same contributions to
the diet, said Hans Stein, a University of Illinois animal sciences professor.
“Grains differ in the concentrations of fiber and resistant
starch they contain, resulting in different digestibility values for energy and
nutrients,” Stein explained. “People in developed countries are often trying to
limit their caloric intake, while people in other parts of the world need to
Researchers at the U of I are using nutritional studies in
pigs to determine which cereal grains are best suited to different nutritional
“Determining energy and nutrient digestibility in humans is
difficult and expensive. Fortunately, the growing pig is a good model for
humans,” Stein said.
Stein and his team conducted an experiment to compare the
concentrations of digestible and metabolizable energy in eight cereal grains,
using growing pigs.
On a dry matter basis, dehulled oats had the greatest
concentration of digestible energy at 4,330 kilocalories per kilogram, followed
by polished white rice at 4,188 kcal/kg, dehulled barley at 4,167 kcal/kg,
Nutridense corn at 4,155 kcal/kg, wheat at 4,126 kcal/kg, yellow dent corn at
4,036 kcal/kg, sorghum at 3,985 kcal/kg and rye 3,875 kcal/kg.
Dehulled oats also contained the most metabolizable energy
at 4,180 kcal/kg. Polished white rice was next at 4,063 kcal/kg, followed by
dehulled barley at 4,055 kcal/kg, Nutridense corn at 4,030 kcal/kg, wheat at
3,975 kcal/kg, yellow dent corn at 3,934 kcal/kg, sorghum at 3,878 kcal/kg and
rye at 3,772 kcal/kg.
Stein said that these data could help different populations
meet their nutritional needs.
“For people who need to increase their caloric intake, rice
and dehulled oats are the preferred cereal grains. However, for people whose
goal is to reduce the glycemic index of their diet and prevent weight gain,
sorghum and rye may be more suitable,” he added.
The study, “Comparative digestibility of energy and
nutrients and fermentability of dietary fiber in eight cereal grains fed to
pigs,” was co-authored with Sarah Cervantes-Pahm and Yanhong Liu and published
in the Journal of the Science of Food