Buckwheat - A Wondrous Food

December 18, 2020 4 min read

buckwheat

Buckwheat - A Wondrous Food

Buckwheat is one of those foods that have been around for ages but have suddenly become popular due to a rediscovery of their health benefits. Technically, buckwheat isn't related to wheat and is not even a real grain! It's a fruit seed related to sorrel and rhubarb but is considered a grain because it is used in a similar manner to other grains. It has a great number of health benefits, which has led people to consider it as a superfood. Here are some of them.

A Source of Veggie Protein

Buckwheat is an important source of plant protein. Although it's not a complete protein, it has 12 amino acids that support muscle synthesis and growth, among other functions. It has higher levels of proteins than most whole grains and can be paired up with another plant protein to complete the amino acid profile.

buckwheat - veggie protein

Helps Fight Cancer

Antioxidants like flavonoids in buckwheat protect the cells from damage by free radicals, which cause harmful inflammation that can lead to some forms of cancer. Enterolactones produced by the action of gut bacteria on buckwheat also help prevent some types of hormone-related cancers such as breast cancer.

Gut bacteria also ferment fiber in buckwheat to produce some types of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like butyrate, which nourish the cells in the colon and reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Gluten-Free

Whole grains are an excellent source of dietary fiber but many people can't eat them because of allergies or gluten-intolerance. Buckwheat doesn't have this problem because it's gluten-free, so it's a great alternative to other gluten-containing cereals. However, sometimes buckwheat gets contaminated with gluten from other products, so you have to make sure your supply comes from a non-contaminated source.

buckwheat - gluten free

Good for Digestion

Buckwheat is rich in dietary fiber, which helps food move smoothly through the gut. This relieves symptoms of indigestion and keeps you full for a longer period of time. This is useful for weight management as the more full you feel the less you will eat.

Because fiber doesn't get digested, it ends up intact in the colon, where beneficial gut bacteria break it down as a source of food. This makes buckwheat a good prebiotic.

buckwheat - good digestion

Helps Control Blood Sugar

Because buckwheat is high in fiber, it takes time to get absorbed into the blood. This means that your blood sugar levels will rise slowly, as opposed to a sudden spike, which happens when you eat food with high refined sugar content.

Because it prevents a sudden rise in blood sugar levels, buckwheat helps to manage diabetes and improves insulin resistance.

Good for the Heart

Buckwheat has many phytonutrients, one of which is rutin. Rutin helps to keep blood pressure stable, which is good for heart health. It also reduces Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL), or bad, cholesterol, which builds up in the arteries leading to a high risk of stroke and heart disease.

Another type of phytonutrient called plant lignans is converted by friendly gut bacteria from enterolactone which also protects against heart disease.

buckwheat - heart health

Helps Prevent Gallstones

The gall bladder is a small organ in the abdomen that stores a digestive fluid called bile. Sometimes hard deposits of various sizes form in the gall bladder, perhaps due to too much cholesterol or bilirubin in the bile, or poor emptying of bile from the gall bladder. These are gall stones.

Buckwheat is rich in dietary fiber, which not only helps food move along nicely in the intestine but also reduces the excessive release of bile acids. This in turn reduces the probability of gallstones forming.

Rich in Minerals

Buckwheat contains more minerals compared to other whole grains like rice, corn, and wheat. What's more, the minerals present in cooked buckwheat groats are better absorbed because buckwheat is low in phytic acid. This is a compound commonly found in many grains that are known to inhibit the absorption of minerals. Here are the most common minerals found in buckwheat:

  • Magnesium- One of the most important minerals in the human body. It is needed in more than 300 enzymes and it helps in regulating how the body uses up glucose and secretes insulin. It also plays a role in controlling blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels to improve blood flow.
  • Iron- Iron is crucial for the formation of hemoglobin, which is used to transport oxygen from one part of the body to another. Lack of iron in the body leads to anemia.
  • Manganese- Whole grains have abundant amounts of manganese and buckwheat is no exception. Manganese if useful for metabolism, growth, and development.
  • Phosphorous- Phosphorous is useful for the growth, development, and maintenance of body tissues.

buckwheat - rich in minerals

Healthy Plant Compounds

Buckwheat has a number of compounds that give it numerous health benefits. In fact, it has more of these compounds than other whole grains. Here are some of them.

  • Rutin- This is the main antioxidant in buckwheat. It lowers inflammation, lowers the risk of cancer, and maintains a healthy flow of blood. It also prevents excessive clotting of platelets.
  • Quercetin- Buckwheat has large amounts of this antioxidant, which lowers the risk of heart disease and cancer.
  • D-chiro-inositol- Buckwheat has the highest amounts of this compound than any other food source. It lowers levels of blood sugar and helps manage diabetes.

Buckwheat in the Diet

Buckwheat seeds are called groats, and they can be included in the diet in a number of ways:

  • The groats can be boiled in salted water and then added to salads.
  • You can also toast buckwheat groats and add them as a topping to a salad.
  • Buckwheat groats can actually be eaten raw, and they have a milder taste than roasted ones. Simply soak them and water to make them soft and drain the water away.
  • Raw groats can be ground into flour and used for baking or making pancakes. This is especially useful for gluten intolerant people as buckwheat is gluten-free.
buckwheat - diet meal

Final Words

Whether you like it raw, cooked, or baked, buckwheat is highly nutritious and comes packed with abundant health benefits. It's a worthwhile addition to the diet.

buckwheat - lifestyle photo