While buckwheat has been around for ages, only recently it has gained a place in the spotlight. Buckwheat, despite its name, is not related to wheat at all and is gluten-free. It belongs to the same group of pseudo-cereals like quinoa and amaranth. Pseudo-cereals are seeds that are consumed in the same way as grains, but they don’t grow on grasses.
Whole buckwheat grains are small, brown-gray triangular shaped grains. Its hard outer shell or hull must be removed before consumption, though. Although I love quinoa, it comes with a high price tag. And that’s where buckwheat (and amaranth, bulgur, and millet) come into play. It’s much cheaper than quinoa and can be used in the same way. It is packed with health-promoting nutrients such as essential minerals, antioxidants, fibers, and protein.
Just as quinoa and amaranth, the primary macronutrient of buckwheat is carbs, but it also contains a decent amount of protein for people who don’t eat meat or fish. It is especially high in the amino acids lysine and arginine.
However, for the vegetarians or vegans under us, eating buckwheat only will not meet your daily need as certain compounds (tannins and protease inhibitors) are interfering with digestion of these proteins (which are converted to amino acids). Apart from carbs and protein, it is also a good source of fiber, vitamin B2, 5 and 6, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and manganese.
Buckwheat, compared to other pseudo-grains, is richer in many beneficial antioxidants such as rutin, quercetin, vitexin, and D-chiro inositol. While buckwheat’s main compound is carbs, it scores low to medium on the glycemic index and shouldn’t cause spikes in blood sugar levels.The downside, it contains less essential vitamins compared to other (pseudo) grains.
ALSO READ: Carbs vs Protein, Get the Balance Right
Health Benefits of Buckwheat
#1 Cardiovascular Health
Buckwheat is packed with many heart-healthy compounds such as rutin, magnesium, copper, fiber, and proteins. Rutin has shown to play a major role in preventing the formation of blood clots and reducing inflammation and blood pressure. A special type of protein found in buckwheat is believed to bind cholesterol in the digestive tract, which prevents it from ending up in our bloodstream.
#2 Improves Blood Sugar Levels
Due to its low to medium glycemic index, buckwheat slowly raises blood sugar levels. It has even been linked to lower blood sugar levels in diabetics. Scientists believe that D-chiro-inositol helps to absorb sugar from our blood.
#3 Beneficial for Liver
Vitamin B deficiency is one of the many causes of liver diseases. Since buckwheat provides many of the vitamins from the B-complex, it can help protect the liver from damage and disease.
Scroll down for more health benefits of buckwheat and learn how to cook with it.
#4 Prevents Anemia
One of the most common forms of anemia is a shortage of iron. Our body needs iron to make sure oxygen is transported through our body. One serving of 100 grams buckwheat contains about 28% of the daily recommendation.
# 5 Gluten-Free
Buckwheat can safely be consumed by people who have celiac disease or are gluten sensitive or intolerant.
# 6 Helps Prevent Cancer
Thanks to its high levels of antioxidants, buckwheat helps to neutralize free radicals which can cause inflammation and several types of cancer.
#7 Colon Health
Its high levels of insoluble fiber keep the digestive tract waste-free and improve gut flora.
ALSO READ: Recommended Daily Fiber Intake: The Lowdown
Cooking with Buckwheat
Unshelled or unhulled buckwheat can be ground to make buckwheat flour. The hulls are used to make pillows.
Raw, Hulled (or buckwheat groats)
Hulled buckwheat can be used for cooking just as you would use quinoa. The can also be ground to add to cereals.
Roasted (or kasha)
Roasting adds extra flavor. Kasha can be used in many dishes or can be ground into flour as well.
So if you are looking to improve your diet, buckwheat is definitely a great addition. However watch out for buckwheat allergy, which is more common in people who are also allergic to latex and rice. Apart from that buckwheat has shown no adverse effects and it is a yummy, healthy addition to your diet…. And much cheaper than quinoa 😉
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Thanks for reading. Until next time!
Crazy cat lady, life and food lover, certified biologist, and holistic health coach.