A Primer on Grains and Beans

by Echo Store on October 01, 2021

“Know thyself” is a Greek aphorism often thrown around. We have to know ourselves to make informed choices. Why not apply this to the food we eat to guide us in achieving our well-being? Know thy food.

In this article, we’re taking a closer look at two types of foods that we often find on the dining table — grains and beans.

What are grains?

Grains, commonly referred to as ‘cereals’ or ‘cereal grains’, are the edible seeds of specific grasses belonging to the Poaceae (also known as Gramineae) family. Grains are divided into 2 subgroups: whole grains and refined grains. 

Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel ― the bran, germ, and endosperm. On the other hand, bran and germ are removed in refined grains.

Among the whole grains sold in the Philippines are oatmeal, popcorn, whole wheat, sprouted grains, adlaired rice, brown rice, and Minaangan rice.

Why are whole grains better?

Whole grains are important sources of nutrients including fiber, trace minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals that can play a key role in reducing risks of heart diseases, certain types of cancer, diabetes, and weight management. Refined grains, on the other hand, may cause health problems like weight gain and high cholesterol levels.

Which rice should we choose?

Red rice is ideal for people who want to improve their cardiovascular and bone health. It also helps lower the chances of obesity and control cholesterol levels.  Conversely, brown rice helps reduce the risk of colon cancer. 

Minaangan is a red heirloom rice variety grown for generations in the rice terraces in  Banaue, Ifugao. It is known for its soft texture and fruity flavor when cooked. It is considered useful in alleviating ulcer problems and dizziness.


Adlai is also known as Job’s tears for its seeds’ tear shape. In the Philippines, it is cultivated by the Subanen tribe in Bukidnon. It tastes like rice with a nutty flavor. It has more protein, dietary fibers, calcium, and iron than brown rice. 


Kasha or buckwheat, despite its name, is not related to wheat. In fact, it’s technically not a grain at all. It belongs to a group of foods called ‘pseudocereals’, seeds that are consumed as cereal grains but don’t grow on grasses. Other common pseudocereals are quinoa and amaranth.


But kasha shares similarities with healthy grains and can be a rice alternative, too. It’s a superfood that’s an excellent source of protein, fiber, healthful complex carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins. Eating buckwheat helps improve digestion and blood cholesterol level. It also aids in managing weight and diabetes. If you want a strong nutty taste, you may opt for roasted kasha.


Legumes, pulses, and beans

Although the terms ‘legumes’, ‘pulses’, and ‘beans’ are often used interchangeably, each has distinct meanings.  A legume refers to any plant from the Fabaceae family that would include its leaves, stems, and pods. A pulse is the edible seed from a legume plant. Pulses include beans, lentils, and peas. Beans in their various forms (kidney, black, pinto, navy, chickpeas) are just one type of pulse.

Pulses provide protein, complex carbohydrates, and several vitamins and minerals. Like other plant-based foods, they contain no cholesterol and little fat or sodium. Pulses also provide iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and other minerals, which play a variety of roles in maintaining good health.


Bukel is also called “sitting beans’’ because it is a bush-type variety that does not require a trellis to grow. This bean is not only food for our body but also food for the brain.


What about cacao beans?

Like our favorite coffee, cacao beans are not beans but seeds. They are from trees and not from legumes. Cacao beans are either processed into cacao powder or cocoa powder. Cocoa powder is produced using higher temperatures and mixed with sugar and dairy. Cacao powder retains the fibers and nutrients in cacao beans. 


Cacao powder is rich in flavonoids that lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the brain and heart, and aid in preventing blood clots. Like most legumes, it’s also rich in zinc. The fiber in cacao powder also promotes healthy digestion and can reduce the risk and symptoms of digestive problems. So next time you crave chocolates, choose cacao powder. 


Now that you know more about grains, legumes, and cacao beans and their health benefits, you will enjoy more next time you consume these foods. And to have these healthyand sustainable foods delivered right at your doorstep, shop for grains and beans at www.echostore.ph!