What is a whole grain?

June 3, 2008

In short, it’s the whole grain: germ, bran, and endosperm. But what is a grain? The edible fruit/seed of a cereal or grass plant.

Though grains are always seeds, seeds are not always grains (think sesame or poppy), and obviously not all grains — sand, truth — are edible (or easy to digest, I should say). Strictly speaking, some grains that we call grains are not true grains, like quinoa, which is actually a pseudocereal (because it’s not a grass).

Diagram of a kernel of wheat.

Beware of tricky names, especially when it comes to wheat. Did you know that buckwheat is not a wheat? It’s not even a cereal, for that matter, but a member of a flowering plant in the same family as rhubarb. Spelt, on the other hand, is a kind of wheat, a mild-flavored ancient strain.

Confusing, I know. Botanical classifications aside, for the purposes of this challenge whole grains are unrefined, minimally processed, edible seeds. Intact, whole grains are excellent sources of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein.

What am I hoping to gain by eating more whole grains? A diet based on more plants, less meat. Lower cholesterol. A colon that runs like the Tokyo underground. Good health through good eating.

There is 1 comment on this item
Add a comment
1. by Lagniappe on Jun 4, 2008 at 2:31 PM PDT

One fine pleasure is to sit and read the Sunday New York Times much of Sunday morning. Start at breakfast. Get distracted, thus hot breakfast not an option. So, munched sliced apples sporadically dipped in homemade wholegrain granola and sipped freshly squeezed orange juice feeds the body (and brain) as the paper is enjoyed.

Add a comment

Think before you type

Culinate welcomes comments that are on-topic, clean, and courteous. For the benefit of the community we reserve the right to delete comments that contain advertising, personal attacks, profanity, or which are thinly disguised attempts to promote another website.

Please enter your comment

Format: Bare URLs are automatically linked; use this style: [http://www.example.com "place text to be linked here"] for prettier links. You may specify *bold* or _italic_ text. No HTML please.

Please identify yourself

Not a member? Sign up!

Please prove that you’re not a computer

Culinate 8

Kale in the raw

Eight versions of kale salad

Eight ways to spin everyone’s favorite salad.

Graze: Bites from the Site
First Person

The secret sharer

A father’s legacy

The Culinate Interview

Mollie Katzen

The vegetarian-cooking pioneer


Down South

Barbecue, tamales, cocktails, and more

Local Flavors

A winter romesco sauce

Good on everything

Editor’s Choice