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Millets vs. Grains: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 10, 2023
Millets are small-seeded grasses used as cereal crops, whereas grains refer to the seeds of various grasses primarily grown for human and animal consumption.

Key Differences

Millets are a group of highly variable small-seeded grasses, widely grown around the world as cereal crops or grains for human food and fodder. Unlike grains, which generally refer to the seeds of cultivated grasses like wheat, rice, and corn, millets include various species like sorghum and pearl millet, known for their resistance to harsh environments.
Grains, in a broad sense, include seeds from various grasses cultivated for food. Millets, on the other hand, are specifically small-seeded grains that are important in dry regions due to their drought resistance. While all millets are grains, not all grains are millets; the grain category is more inclusive.
Nutritionally, millets offer a rich source of fiber and are gluten-free, making them suitable for certain diets. Grains as a whole, including millets, are primary sources of carbohydrates, essential vitamins, and minerals in many diets worldwide. However, millets often have a higher nutritional profile compared to some common grains like rice and wheat.
Cultivation practices for millets differ from those of other grains. Millets can thrive in poorer soil and harsher weather conditions, making them critical for food security in challenging climates. Other grains, such as wheat and rice, require more water and fertile soils, limiting their cultivation to more favorable agricultural areas.
In culinary terms, millets are versatile and can be used in various dishes, from porridges to breads. Grains as a whole have a broader culinary use, forming the base of numerous staple foods like bread, pasta, and rice dishes. Millets, though less common in Western cuisine, are gaining popularity as a healthy grain alternative.

Comparison Chart

Seed Size

Generally small-sized seeds
Varies, can include large seeds like corn

Climate Adaptability

More resistant to drought and poor soil
Requires more water and fertile soil

Nutritional Value

High in fiber, gluten-free
Varied, primary source of carbohydrates

Culinary Uses

Used in porridges, breads, and cereals
Wider range including bread, pasta, rice

Geographic Popularity

More common in Africa and Asia
Globally consumed, staple in most diets

Millets and Grains Definitions


Millets serve as important food staples in arid and semi-arid regions.
In many African countries, millets form a significant part of the daily diet.


Grains include a wide range of cereals like wheat, rice, and corn.
Different cultures use various grains as staples, such as rice in Asia and wheat in Europe.


Millets are small-seeded grasses grown as cereal crops.
Farmers in the semi-arid regions prefer cultivating millets due to their drought resistance.


Grains are used in a multitude of culinary applications, from bread to beer.
Grains are versatile; for instance, barley is used in brewing beer and making soups.


Millets are adaptable crops, often cultivated in harsh environmental conditions.
Despite the poor soil quality, the local farmers successfully harvested their millets.


Grains can be whole or processed, affecting their nutritional content.
Whole grains retain all parts of the seed, offering more nutrients compared to processed grains.


Millets encompass various species such as sorghum and pearl millet.
Pearl millet, a type of millet, is commonly used in making traditional flatbreads.


Grains are the seeds of grasses cultivated for food.
Grains like wheat and rice are essential components of the global food supply.


Millets are noted for their nutritional benefits, being rich in fiber and gluten-free.
Health-conscious individuals are increasingly incorporating millets into their meals for their high fiber content.


Grains are a primary source of carbohydrates and other nutrients.
Nutritionists often recommend including a variety of grains in a balanced diet.


Any of various annual grasses with small grains that are harvested for food, livestock feed, and birdseed, especially proso millet.


A small, dry, one-seeded fruit of a cereal grass, having the fruit and the seed walls united
A single grain of wheat.
Gleaned the grains from the ground one at a time. Also called caryopsis.


The grains of any of these plants.


Plural of millet


Is rice considered a grain?

Yes, rice is a type of grain.

What are common types of grains?

Wheat, rice, corn, barley, and oats are common examples.

What are millets?

Small-seeded grasses grown as cereal crops, particularly in arid regions.

Are millets used in traditional cuisines?

Yes, particularly in African and Asian cuisines.

Can grains be used in brewing?

Yes, certain grains like barley are used in brewing beer.

What defines grains?

Seeds of various grasses cultivated for food, including cereals like wheat and rice.

Can millets grow in poor soil?

Yes, millets are known for their adaptability to poor soil conditions.

Are millets gluten-free?

Yes, most millets are naturally gluten-free.

What's the difference in cultivation between millets and other grains?

Millets can grow in harsher climates, while other grains often need more water and fertile soil.

Do millets have a high nutritional value?

Yes, they are rich in fiber and nutrients.

Can grains be part of a weight loss diet?

Yes, especially whole grains due to their high fiber content.

Can grains be allergenic?

Yes, especially those containing gluten like wheat.

Do millets require special storage conditions?

Like other grains, they should be stored in a cool, dry place.

Are millets easy to cook?

Yes, they can be cooked similarly to rice or quinoa.

Are all grains rich in carbohydrates?

Yes, grains are primarily a source of carbohydrates.

Are millets popular worldwide?

They are gaining popularity globally, especially as health foods.

What role do grains play in a diet?

They are staple foods, providing essential carbohydrates and nutrients.

How do millets benefit the environment?

Their drought resistance makes them sustainable in challenging climates.

What is the difference in taste between millets and other grains?

Millets have a nuttier flavor compared to more neutral-tasting grains like rice.

What is the future of millets in global agriculture?

Their resilience and nutritional value suggest a growing role in sustainable agriculture.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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