Buckwheat

DSC_1252Buckwheat is a pretty interesting ingredient. Although it has the word ‘wheat’ in its name, it is 100% gluten-free and not actually related to wheat at all. Buckwheat is known as a pseudo-cereal, similar to other crops like quinoa and amaranth. Buckwheat groats are not whole grains but are rather seeds of the buckwheat plant. Buckwheat is a traditional crop grown in Asia and Central and Eastern Europe that has been cultivated since at least the year 1000 BC in China. Interest in the crop has been renewed in the last decade due to its potential as a health food. As a crop, it has shown a strong ability to adapt to adverse environments in a very short period of time.  

Unique components that are found in buckwheat seeds include flavones, which have demonstrated a number of potential health benefits, and phytosterols, which have important cholesterol-lowering effects. Buckwheat groats have special biological activities of cholesterol-lowering and antihypertension effects and have been shown to improve both constipation and obesity due to their dietary fibre content.

Studies have shown that buckwheat has poor digestibility in the human body due to the presence of tannins, phytic acid, and protease inhibitors. This is where the importance of soaking buckwheat comes into play when preparing it. Soaking improves the nutritional and functional properties of buckwheat groats by increasing the digestibility of proteins and other nutritional components. In addition to this, soaking buckwheat helps to increase phytase enzyme activity that breaks down antinutrients such as phytates, which prevent the absorption of important minerals such as iron, zinc, and calcium. If you choose to use buckwheat, make sure to soak it for at least 20 minutes in clean water before rinsing well and cooking it.

Health Benefits

  1. Heart health – Buckwheat has been shown to help lower inflammation and high cholesterol levels when consumed as part of a balanced diet in place of refined carbohydrate-based foods.
  2. Antioxidant content – Buckwheat contains antioxidants, which play a role in preventing inflammation, preventing the development of cancer, as well as supporting brain, liver, and digestive health.
  3. High-quality protein – In contrast to cereals, buckwheat protein is of a high quality due to its relatively high lysine, threonine, and methionine content. For the vegetarians and vegans out there, buckwheat is a great plant-based food to include in your diet as it provides essential amino acids that are not commonly found in cereal or whole grains.
  4. Improved digestion – Buckwheat provides six grams of dietary fibre per one cup serving. Dietary fibre helps to regulate the transit of food through the gastrointestinal tract and has been shown to protect the gut from negative symptoms associated with inflammation.
  5. Diabetes prevention – Buckwheat is a low GI carbohydrate thanks to its protein content and complex carbohydrate makeup. This means that the carbohydrates found in buckwheat are broken down and absorbed more slowly, leading to controlled blood sugar levels and sustainable energy.

Nutritional Information per 100 g (raw)

Macronutrients

Minerals

Vitamins

Scientific Literature

  1. Buckwheat
  2. Buckwheat Nutrition and Health Benefits
  3. Advances in the development of functional foods from buckwheat
  4. Dietary flavonoids: effects on xenobiotic and carcinogen metabolism
  5. Neuroprotection by flavonoids
  6. Vascular and anti-oxidant action of flavonols and flavones
  7. Eating Buckwheat Cookies Is Associated with the Reduction in Serum Levels of Myeloperoxidase and Cholesterol
  8. Oats and buckwheat intakes and cardiovascular disease risk factors in an ethnic minority of China
  9. Phenolic compounds and antioxidant activities of buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum Moench) hulls and flour

Recipes