What is the difference between a seed and a grain? This a confusing question to most people. You might ask, “Isn’t a grain just a seed”? A grain is a seed, however, there is a big difference between the two especially in the way they both affect our health and how our bodies process them.
Seeds: We refer to seeds directly, such as sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and sesame seeds. A seed is defined as an embryonic plant covered in a seed coat, often containing nutrients and of high nutritional value. Seeds also tend to have a wider variety of nutrients in them compared to grains, e.g. chia seeds are full of nutrients like omega fats, saturated and monounsaturated fats, protein, plenty of fibre and considered a whole food.
Seeds such as Flaxseeds, Chia seeds, Hemp seeds, Sesame seeds, Pumpkin seeds and Sunflower seeds are so nutrient-dense you don’t have to eat a lot of them. Seeds contain all the biological materials necessary for the development of complex plants. For this reason, they are extremely nutritious and medicinal. They are a good source of fibre and contain healthy monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
A grain is a type of small edible fruit, usually hard on the outside, harvested from grassy crops. Grains such as wheat, oats, and grasses generally grow in big clumps on a plant and rely on the wind and weather to disperse them. In fact, they are not designed to be eaten by humans in their raw state and need to go through processing (milling or cooking, etc.). Grains have a limited range of nutrients and are carbohydrate based.
Ancient Grains verses Modern Wheat – Taken from, The History of How Wheat Became Toxic – Maninis Gluten Free Blog by Donna Collins, July 5, 2011.
“Modern wheat has had a very long history of hybridization, starting with ancestral grasses in the wild and also occurring naturally in farmers’ fields in antiquity. Humans have continued the process chemically in the last century, and especially during the last 50 years in order to increase yields, resist fungal diseases and pest attacks, improve ease of mechanical harvesting and meet rigorous demands of industrial milling and mechanized baking methods. Transgenic wheat varieties via GMO technology are now waiting in the wings for their debut, albeit to an unexpectedly (at least to Monsanto) hostile audience both at home and abroad.
But even before these latest GMO changes, it appears that recent forced and accelerated hybridizations have changed wheat nutritionally in ways that no one seems to have considered, while research into the health effects of these transformations has barely begun. It is through the story of modern wheat’s pedigree, some of which is still disputed by archaeobotanists, that some light can be shed upon gluten intolerance and celiac disease.
Among the early grasses that produced nourishing food for people are the species of Triticum. Within this species, the einkorn, emmer and spelt groups all had a common ancestor about 10,000 years ago. Wild and cultivated einkorn are classified as diploid by plant geneticists; that is, their DNA contains two sets of chromosomes. Einkorn was widely distributed throughout the Near East, Transcaucasia, the Mediterranean region, southwestern Europe and the Balkans, and evidence of wild einkorn harvest remains have been dated in the late Palaeolithic and early Mesolithic Ages (16,000-15,000 BCE). Cultivated einkorn continued to be a popular food crop during the Neolithic and early Bronze Ages (10,000-4,000 BCE) until finally giving way to emmer wheat in the mid-Bronze Age. Einkorn cultivation continued from the Bronze Age until the last century in isolated regions within France, India, Italy, Turkey, and Yugoslavia. A nutritious grain with high levels of protein, fat, vitamins and minerals, einkorn excelled at growing in cool environments and in marginal agricultural zones such as the thin soils of mountainsides”.
Some health experts believe that it is the consumption of modern wheat and other grains, especially those sprayed withpesticides, (including herbicides, fungicides, insecticides) that are responsible for a significant amount of illness, obesity, and suffering in humans today. Gluten is just one culprit. A few of the common illnesses linked to grains include Chrohn’s and Celiac disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other digestive disorders. Consuming grains can also increase the chances of developing diabetes and even worsen brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, as well as all autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Nuts: Almonds, pecans, cashews, and walnuts are the seeds produced by a tree. Most contain large amounts of protein, as well as calcium, vitamin E and some, provide selenium. Nuts are classed as seeds and they also have a good range of nutrients. Almonds, brazil, cashew, macadamia, pine nuts and walnuts all have high nutrient value. These are all digested far easier than grains and provide far more nutrients. Activating nuts and seeds by soaking in water overnight then dehydrating them (drying them out in a dehydrator or warm oven) unlocks the nutrients and makes them easier to digest.