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Is Quinoa a Grain Or Seed Debate Truly Ends Here

Spencer Cailas

is quinoa a grain or seed

Since quinoa became known around the world as the “mother of all grains”, there’s been a debate regarding its true family roots.

A lot of people question if quinoa is a grain because of how it’s generally viewed, and consumed. It’s also often compared to rice and other grains, see our in-depth quinoa vs rice comparison to help clear up any related questions.

Before anything, we need to understand what is a seed, and what is a grain.

A seed is nothing more than a matured ovule containing an embryo, also known as a seed embryo, which is part of a seed or bud that is found in the early forms of a plant’s leaves, stem, and roots.

Grains also referred to as kernels, are seeds and fruits of known cereal grasses.

The basic difference between grain and seed is that grains are used as a food source either directly or after being processed, whereas a seed needs to or will be germinated to produce another plant.

Technically, one term is used to define the other as the only difference will depend on how the seed will be used.

Is quinoa a grain or a seed? What’s the correct term to define quinoa?

When people talk about grains like rice, barley, and especially wheat, they’re generally referring to cereal grains, which quinoa is not.

Quinoa is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the Amaranthaceae family also known as the amaranth family, containing over 2,500 different species of flowering plants, such as Beets for example.

Flowering plants (also known and referred to as angiosperms with over 300,000 species) produce seeds, and in turn flowers in the ovaries. As the seed develops, the ovaries can turn into fruits.

We refer to quinoa as a grain, because we eat it, so we can call it as it is without technically being wrong.

Why is quinoa also referred to as a pseudocereal?

Pseudocereals a non-grasses that are consumed the same way as true cereal, which is in-fact grasses such as the Poaceae family, there are over 12,000 different species.

The Poaceae family provides half of the world’s dietary energy supply with rice, and wheat providing 40 percent of it.

Although quinoa belongs to the amaranth family, it is often referred to as a pseudocereal simply to highlight the botanical distinction from true cereals such as wheat, rice, barley, maize, and many other true cereal grains.

In fact, it is also referred to as a super grain, and known for proving health benefits beyond its high nutrition.

Last but not least, is quinoa a whole grain?

All grains technically start it’s life as whole grains because by definition whole grains are simply the entire seed of the plant.

There are 3 key edible component parts, the bran, germ, and endosperm and protected by an outer husk that protects the seed from pests, diseases, and even sunlight.

Not the be confused with this outer husk, quinoa has a naturally occurring phytochemical called saponin found in various plant structures like the stems, seeds, etc. It’s what protects the seed from pests, it has a bitter taste which helps keep birds, insects, and other animals from eating the plant.

And as already stated, quinoa is a seed that isn’t from a grass family but is considered a grain. Technically speaking, yes, quinoa is considered to be a whole grain.