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What is endosperm?

Endosperm is the largest, inner part of a grain kernel. It contains carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. 

What is the function of endosperm?

The endosperm is a distinct part of the seed which plays an important role in the development and growth of most flowering plants. It supplies nutrients and acts as a physical barrier within the seed to protect the embryo.  

Does endosperm have health benefits?

The endosperm is the inner layer of a seed which belongs to flowering plants that when eaten can act as a source of carbohydrates, protein, some B vitamins and minerals.  The carbohydrates which are provided by the endosperm are mainly in the form of starch. This starch may help to stabilize blood glucose since it is often found in fibrous foods which delays the rate of digestion.

What types of foods contain endosperm?

Many cereals and grains such as wheat, barely, and rice contain endosperm. Other foods such as peas and beans contain endosperm when they are young but as they mature this part of the seed is completely absorbed. Some commonly eaten forms of endosperm include the “meat” of coconuts and popcorn kernels from corn. 

Learn more about Endosperm:

Photo of Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson

Medically reviewed by:

Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson, Ph.D., RD

Kristin is an RDN who also earned her Ph.D. in Nutrition from Arizona State University with an emphasis on insulin resistance, lipid metabolism disorders, and obesity. She completed her post-doctoral fellowship at Mayo Clinic where she focused on nutrition-related proteomic and metabolic research. Her interests include understanding the exact mechanism of action of various genetic variations underlying individual predispositions to nutrition-related health outcomes. Her goal is to help all individuals prevent chronic diseases and achieve long, healthy lives through eating well.

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