Why do grains have so many more carbs than other plant foods, like nuts or lettuce?

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Googling isn’t helping, because the results are all from health and diet pages. I’m trying to find a science answer.

[Request] Please try and actually explain this to a 5-10yo. I have a kid in that age range who’s the one actually asking the question. I can do my best to bring an “I graduated high school” answer down to his level, but I might struggle to bring an “I’ve completed some college and have a basic background in biochemistry” answer to his level. Thanks!

In: 62

Grains are seeds, basically a sugar/starch storage for the plant to grow when it is replanted, it needs that energy provided by the starch/sugar to grow. its a fueltank to make a new plant.

The carbs in food are not there for people who eat the food. The carbs in food are to make the plant more successful at spreading in its environment. Humans have selectively bred plants, and occasionally tampered with their genome, to get more carbohydrates into those grain elements. That’s because people want to grow them to eat them. The current domesticated food plants are not “natural”, so in that sense the reason is “so humans can get more nutrition from it”. In the natural version of the plant, the reason was “because seeds equipped with that carbohydrate survive to reproduce more effectively”; but sometimes “evolution” isn’t the answer people are looking for.

I won’t go into the evolutionary *why* (for many crops we grow nowadays, selective breeding and/or GM techniques have made them do things that really don’t make a lot of sense for the plants themselves), but the biochemical *how* boils down to “while many plants have the set of tools necessary to take in nutrients from soil + energy from sunlight to make all sorts of molecules they need, grain-like plants also have (and use) particular tools to make lots of carbs.”

Making large carbohydrates out of little bits of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen is nothing strictly special when you have the enzymes to do it. Humans synthesize all sorts of things from smaller building blocks, too. You can eat almost any blend of protein in your everyday diet and turn it into big muscle fibers, finger nails, you name it.

Grains and nuts are both seeds that store energy differently to support a newly sprouted plant.

Grains store energy as starch that gets converted into sugar. Both starch and sugar are carbohydrates. This helps a grain seed grow quickly into a grass plant.

Nuts store energy as fat. Fat can store more energy than carbohydrates for the same weight and helps the seed grow into a mini tree.

Lettuce and other greens are the leaves of a plant. Leaves try to maximize surface area against volume to absorb the sun with the least amount of material. That’s why they cook down very easily. They also are high in fiber from the support structures in the leaf.

Energy is the simple answer. Grains are the seeds of grasses, basically. They’re little packages of energy that are designed to give life to the new plant, even if it is covered by dirt or other materials and needs to grow a lot before getting energy from the sun.

The way we have grown these crops has added to how many carbs there are, through selective growing, and we also tend to remove the other parts of the seeds and favour just the carbs.

Other plants tend to be really high in fat, like nuts, as an energy source for their potential next generation.

The short answer is baby plants need energy and carbs are a good source.

Plants are basically machines for collecting energy, storing that energy in little packages along with DNA, then dispersing those energy packages in the hopes that new plants can use the stored energy to grow.

So how much energy you get from eating a plant part depends a lot on what this plant part is meant to do. Leafy green parts like lettuce are meant for collecting energy from the sun and don’t hold a lot themselves. Nuts and seeds are meant for storing energy, so you naturally get a lot from eating them. Some plants like to encourage *us* to disperse their seeds by growing tasty fruits that we take and eat elsewhere. These can vary a lot in their nutritional properties.

Grains are a kind of seed. We’re very good at growing a lot of them, removing the outer shells, and cooking or grinding them to make the energy maximally available. If you did the same thing to almonds or walnuts, you would get something with roughly the same amount of calories.

Grains have more carbohydrates, and other nuts have more fats. These are just different ways of storing energy. Carbs can be accessed faster and so are better for tiny seeds meant to quickly grow into small plants like wheat stalks. Fats are better for big seeds meant to slowly grow into trees.

There is no deep reason why grains have more carbs than other seeds. The germ of grains is actually quite high in fat, that is where corn oil comes from. Grain processing often removes the germ to improve shelf life.

Oily compounds and proteins are needed to start up the machinery of growth, grasses just wandered down an evolutionary path that stores more energy as carbs in the endosperm than most other plants.

Leafs turn sunlight into sugar and it’s sent to other parts of the plant, as a result they don’t have many nutrients themselves.

Seeds and tubers/roots like potatoes are designed to store energy so that new plants can grow from them.

A big part of carbohydrates is also digestibility and processing.

If you take corn and squeeze the oil out – only carbs and a little protein is left. This processing makes it higher carb.

If you take rice and remove the outside and polish it to make it white. You’re now concentrating the starch and removing fiber and other inert material.

If you take wheat and remove the germ – it’s further processed.

Our body naturally cannot digest cellulose, and as a result with foods like steel cut oatmeal – we are not able to absorb too many carbs from it. If you have oat flour or instant oats which are ground into smaller pieces – we can now absorb more carbs from it. The same goes for juices – eating an apple is much healthier than the juice of an apple because we won’t absorb its contents as easily.

Grains are like car gas they keep your brain going nuts have plant protein that protect your body from many things like cancer if they know what cancer is it has many needed amino acids that help your body build things you need like legos you start with no blocks and you build as much as you need to create the perfect masterpiece lettuce is mainly minerals vitamins and hydration it’s basically crunchy water

Grains are made up of just carbs.
Leaves have fiber and water in them along with carbs.
Nuts have fat and carbs.

Grains are high in complex which are carbs. They are high in such things because they contain a lot of energy for the seed to germinate.

It’s a difference in how they store energy

There are 3 general categories for nutrients

– Carbohydrates

– Fats

– Proteins

While some proteins can be broken down for energy, typically they have better uses. Not often you see “protein stores” with the purpose of energy storage

Many plants, including grains, store a majority of their energy as starches, sugars and fiberous material (carbohydrates). It’s the easiest to break down, so it’s done so as quick energy access. Good for growing grassy plants

Nuts & seeds are mostly fat in the form of oil. Fat holds a tone more energy than carbs, making it a massive bang-for-buck material when you wanna give a seed everything it needs to grow into a little tree. Downside being that it takes a while to break down.

Now, lettuce is technically mostly carbohydrates… But that’s only a technicality. The majority of leafy greens is just water, chlorophyll, vitamins, and minerals. There’s little in the way of actual… anything… there.

0 views

Googling isn’t helping, because the results are all from health and diet pages. I’m trying to find a science answer.

[Request] Please try and actually explain this to a 5-10yo. I have a kid in that age range who’s the one actually asking the question. I can do my best to bring an “I graduated high school” answer down to his level, but I might struggle to bring an “I’ve completed some college and have a basic background in biochemistry” answer to his level. Thanks!

In: 62

Grains are seeds, basically a sugar/starch storage for the plant to grow when it is replanted, it needs that energy provided by the starch/sugar to grow. its a fueltank to make a new plant.

The carbs in food are not there for people who eat the food. The carbs in food are to make the plant more successful at spreading in its environment. Humans have selectively bred plants, and occasionally tampered with their genome, to get more carbohydrates into those grain elements. That’s because people want to grow them to eat them. The current domesticated food plants are not “natural”, so in that sense the reason is “so humans can get more nutrition from it”. In the natural version of the plant, the reason was “because seeds equipped with that carbohydrate survive to reproduce more effectively”; but sometimes “evolution” isn’t the answer people are looking for.

I won’t go into the evolutionary *why* (for many crops we grow nowadays, selective breeding and/or GM techniques have made them do things that really don’t make a lot of sense for the plants themselves), but the biochemical *how* boils down to “while many plants have the set of tools necessary to take in nutrients from soil + energy from sunlight to make all sorts of molecules they need, grain-like plants also have (and use) particular tools to make lots of carbs.”

Making large carbohydrates out of little bits of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen is nothing strictly special when you have the enzymes to do it. Humans synthesize all sorts of things from smaller building blocks, too. You can eat almost any blend of protein in your everyday diet and turn it into big muscle fibers, finger nails, you name it.

Grains and nuts are both seeds that store energy differently to support a newly sprouted plant.

Grains store energy as starch that gets converted into sugar. Both starch and sugar are carbohydrates. This helps a grain seed grow quickly into a grass plant.

Nuts store energy as fat. Fat can store more energy than carbohydrates for the same weight and helps the seed grow into a mini tree.

Lettuce and other greens are the leaves of a plant. Leaves try to maximize surface area against volume to absorb the sun with the least amount of material. That’s why they cook down very easily. They also are high in fiber from the support structures in the leaf.

Energy is the simple answer. Grains are the seeds of grasses, basically. They’re little packages of energy that are designed to give life to the new plant, even if it is covered by dirt or other materials and needs to grow a lot before getting energy from the sun.

The way we have grown these crops has added to how many carbs there are, through selective growing, and we also tend to remove the other parts of the seeds and favour just the carbs.

Other plants tend to be really high in fat, like nuts, as an energy source for their potential next generation.

The short answer is baby plants need energy and carbs are a good source.

Plants are basically machines for collecting energy, storing that energy in little packages along with DNA, then dispersing those energy packages in the hopes that new plants can use the stored energy to grow.

So how much energy you get from eating a plant part depends a lot on what this plant part is meant to do. Leafy green parts like lettuce are meant for collecting energy from the sun and don’t hold a lot themselves. Nuts and seeds are meant for storing energy, so you naturally get a lot from eating them. Some plants like to encourage *us* to disperse their seeds by growing tasty fruits that we take and eat elsewhere. These can vary a lot in their nutritional properties.

Grains are a kind of seed. We’re very good at growing a lot of them, removing the outer shells, and cooking or grinding them to make the energy maximally available. If you did the same thing to almonds or walnuts, you would get something with roughly the same amount of calories.

Grains have more carbohydrates, and other nuts have more fats. These are just different ways of storing energy. Carbs can be accessed faster and so are better for tiny seeds meant to quickly grow into small plants like wheat stalks. Fats are better for big seeds meant to slowly grow into trees.

There is no deep reason why grains have more carbs than other seeds. The germ of grains is actually quite high in fat, that is where corn oil comes from. Grain processing often removes the germ to improve shelf life.

Oily compounds and proteins are needed to start up the machinery of growth, grasses just wandered down an evolutionary path that stores more energy as carbs in the endosperm than most other plants.

Leafs turn sunlight into sugar and it’s sent to other parts of the plant, as a result they don’t have many nutrients themselves.

Seeds and tubers/roots like potatoes are designed to store energy so that new plants can grow from them.

A big part of carbohydrates is also digestibility and processing.

If you take corn and squeeze the oil out – only carbs and a little protein is left. This processing makes it higher carb.

If you take rice and remove the outside and polish it to make it white. You’re now concentrating the starch and removing fiber and other inert material.

If you take wheat and remove the germ – it’s further processed.

Our body naturally cannot digest cellulose, and as a result with foods like steel cut oatmeal – we are not able to absorb too many carbs from it. If you have oat flour or instant oats which are ground into smaller pieces – we can now absorb more carbs from it. The same goes for juices – eating an apple is much healthier than the juice of an apple because we won’t absorb its contents as easily.

Grains are like car gas they keep your brain going nuts have plant protein that protect your body from many things like cancer if they know what cancer is it has many needed amino acids that help your body build things you need like legos you start with no blocks and you build as much as you need to create the perfect masterpiece lettuce is mainly minerals vitamins and hydration it’s basically crunchy water

Grains are made up of just carbs.
Leaves have fiber and water in them along with carbs.
Nuts have fat and carbs.

Grains are high in complex which are carbs. They are high in such things because they contain a lot of energy for the seed to germinate.

It’s a difference in how they store energy

There are 3 general categories for nutrients

– Carbohydrates

– Fats

– Proteins

While some proteins can be broken down for energy, typically they have better uses. Not often you see “protein stores” with the purpose of energy storage

Many plants, including grains, store a majority of their energy as starches, sugars and fiberous material (carbohydrates). It’s the easiest to break down, so it’s done so as quick energy access. Good for growing grassy plants

Nuts & seeds are mostly fat in the form of oil. Fat holds a tone more energy than carbs, making it a massive bang-for-buck material when you wanna give a seed everything it needs to grow into a little tree. Downside being that it takes a while to break down.

Now, lettuce is technically mostly carbohydrates… But that’s only a technicality. The majority of leafy greens is just water, chlorophyll, vitamins, and minerals. There’s little in the way of actual… anything… there.