Nutrition Myths
What is grain?

What is grain? Did you know it is a dry fruit?

The definitions of grains and seeds are often confused. Words “grain” and “seed” have various definitions depending on the context.

The major difference is the biological one – the grain is a fruit which contains one seed inside, but looks like a seed because the fruit component is thin, dry and fused to a hard seed coat that looks just like a seed coat itself.

There are other differences, however, which are best represented by showing a table with various definitions and word uses.

The main differences between grains and seeds are represented in the following table: (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)

Difference typesSeedGrain
Biological differenceDoesn’t have an ovary. It is a ripened ovule.It is a ripened ovary with one ripened ovule inside.
Biological differenceIs not a fruit.Is a fruit with one seed inside.
Biological differenceHas no fruit component.The fruit part of the grain is dry and is fused (stuck with) with the seed coat (cannot separate them).
Biological differenceHas no bran.Has bran – a fusion of fruit wall and hard seed coat.
Common agricultural useUsually planted to grow plants.Harvested for food for livestock animals and humans.
Culinary constituent differenceFrequently used in culinary purposes for their higher fat and fiber contents.Carbohydrate content predominates. Used primarily for culinary purposes for their carbohydrate content.
Culinary usage differenceSnack, sprinkle on breakfast cereal or in salads, seed and nut energy bars, seed and nut protein snacks, oils.Carbohydrate component of the main meal: flour products, pastas, noodles, rice dishes, breads, tortillas, biscuits, cakes, pizza bases, breakfast cereals.
ExamplesPumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sunflower seedsGrass family: wheat, barley, rice, corn, barley. Pseudo-grains: quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat.


You will find a summary of the most common nutrition myths and evidence-based nutrition facts here.

Related Posts

What is celiac disease – symptoms, tests and treatment Celiac disease affects the small intestine and prevents the absorption of nutrients. Find out what are celiac disease symptoms, tests and treatment.
Raisins Nutrition facts and health benefits of raisins. Are raisins good for you? How many calories are in raisins? What are the main nutrients in raisins?
Gluten-free grains There are several gluten-free grains that have a similar nutritional profile as the gluten-containing grains, serving as good substitutes.
Chia seeds side effects – what is the evidence? There are not many chia seeds side effects but you should read this if you are male, or suffer from IBD, hypotension, diabetes or swallowing difficulties.
Chia Seeds Nutrition Facts Chia Seeds - Nutrition Facts

Get updates

Receive regular updates on nutrition myths, facts and curiosities. All based on the latest scientific evidence.