All About Buckwheat - From History To Health

Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) despite its name is not a wheat but a grain-like seed that is nutrient-dense and gluten-free. Buckwheat has been cultivated and consumed for over 8000 years in Asia and has become popular in more recent years in western countries like the U.S.A Europe and here in Australia. Biologically speaking most "normal" grains are cereal grains from grasses, Buckwheat seeds (also known as grouts or kasha) are a type of Pseudo grain that are the seeds of broadleaf plants and belong to a group called "Dicots". There are three main Pseudo grains (or Pseudo cereals) Buckwheat, Quinoa and Amaranth and all 3 are generally a safer option if you are wanting to be gluten-free or if you are experiencing digestive and immunological symptoms. Other grains, true cereal grasses (like wheat, corn, rye, barley, millet, rice, oats, and sorghum) can be problematic for some people, not only due to the gluten content, but the presence of chemical compounds, 3 of which are called lectins, Saponins and Protease inhibitors, all of which have been proven to cause problems in a very similar way to gluten. (1)

Pseudo grains are an ancient food source and appear to be superior to cereal grains in many ways. Not only do they contain no gluten, but they also provide a good amount of protein as well as the more obvious carbohydrate content. Buckwheat, related to sorrel and rhubarb, is tasty, easy to prepare and relatively cheap with a toasty, nutty flavor as well containing significant amounts of B vitamins, iron, manganese, magnesium, and copper. Buckwheat contains resistant fiber (a compound was shown to assist in lowering glucose levels and food cravings and improving Diabetes), and an abundance of antioxidants like Rutin, Tannins, and Catechin. Buckwheat has such an impressive Polyphenol profile that it is said by some to be considered a superfood. 

Nutrition Facts

According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), a single-serve of Buckwheat is an excellent source of fiber, is low in saturated fat and is very low in cholesterol and sodium. Buckwheat has a macronutrient ratio of 8% Fat, 13% protein, and 79% carbohydrate. The nutrient profile below is based on 28g of Buckwheat, which offers 11% of your RDI of Fibre, 18% of your RDI of Manganese, 16% of your RDI of magnesium, 15% of your RDI of Copper and 10% of your RDI of B3 (niacin). (2) (3)

Calories: 96 kcal

Protein: 3.7 grams

Fat: 1.0 grams

  • Saturated Fat   0.2g
  • Monounsaturated Fat  0.3g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat     0.3g
  • Omega-3         21.8mg
  • Omega-6         269mg

Carbs: 20 grams

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Manganese: 0.4mg (18% of the RDI)

Magnesium: 64.7mg (16%)

Copper: 0.3mg (15%)

Phosphorus: 97.2mg (10%)

Zinc: 0.7mg (4%)

Potassium: 129mg (4%)

Iron: 0.6mg (3%)

Selenium: 2.3mcg (3%)

Calcium: 5mg (1%)

Vitamin B3 (Niacin): 2mg (10%)

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 0.1mg (7%)

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): 0.3mg (3%)

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): 0.1mg (3%)

Folate (B9): 8.4mcg (2%)

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 Family of B Vitamins

There are eight B Vitamins (B1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9 and 12). All are water-soluble vitamins (along with Vitamin C also), which means they dissolve in water (as opposed to fat) and do not store in the body, so they must be consumed daily. Water-soluble vitamins are destroyed easily during cooking and even degrade through the storage and preparation of foods containing these vitamins.  

Though each of these vitamins has unique functions, they generally help your body produce energy, boost brain function, and support cell metabolism and health. They help to prevent infections, lower stress, and are vital in promoting good health throughout the entire body. (4)

Amino Acid Composition

Amino acids are the building blocks essential for the process of proteins and the synthesis of hormones and neurotransmitters. Amino acids, as well as proteins are the building blocks of life and play critical roles in your body. There are 20 amino acids, 9 of which are called "essential" meaning we cannot make them in our body and must get them from food. Buckwheat's unique amino acid composition has some special biological activities including cholesterol-lowering effects, anti-hypertension effects, and the ability to improve digestion. The protein in Buckwheat is of high quality; it has all eight essential amino acids, including Lysine (commonly known to help prevent against and treat cold sores). (5)

Key Benefits

Buckwheat has many health benefits and is an excellent alternative if you want to eat fewer grains and gluten.

Among the top benefits to you and your wellbeing are:

-       Improving your hearth health (affecting cholesterol and blood pressure).

-       Offering an abundance of Antioxidants (prevention of disease and degeneration).

-       Providing easily digestible, high-quality protein.

-       Supporting healthy digestion and nutrient absorption due to the high fiber content.

-       Helping to prevent Diabetes and imbalanced blood sugar levels – a pre-courser to inflammation, fatigue, and beyond (Metabolic syndrome and the onset of Type 2 Diabetes).

-       A non-allergenic, vitamin, and mineral-rich wholefood. (6)

The information in our articles is NOT intended to replace the one on one support of a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice.

By Linda Ross ICNT
Integrative Nutritionist
Body, Mind and Eating Coach
Wholefood Chef 

  1. https://paleoleap.com/pseudograins-non-gluten-grains/
  2. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/5681/2
  3. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/20008?fgcd=&manu=&format=&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=default&order=asc&qlookup=buckwheat&ds=&qt=&qp=&qa=&qn=&q=&ing=
  4. http://www.sapj.co.za/index.php/SAPJ/article/view/2003
  5. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/essential-amino-acids
  6. https://draxe.com/nutrition/seeds/buckwheat-nutrition/

MORE ABOUT LINDA:

Linda is currently teaching and consulting Globally. Specializing in identifying the underlying factors of chronic stress and related conditions, using clinical and holistic techniques. Blending ancient wisdom that is backed up by the modern science of nutrition to nourish the body and support people of all ages in understanding and transforming their health and wellbeing.

Links to connect with Linda:
www.nourishingways.co.nz
Instagram: @nourishing_ways

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