What is Buckwheat and Why is it So Good for You?
Buckwheat is a gluten-free grain that is technically not a cereal grain, but rather a fruit and is related to rhubarb and sorrel. Common buckwheat has been cultivated for over 5000 years. It was originally grown in Russia and China, though it can now be found all over the world. Buckwheat's nutritional value depends on how it was processed, as well as what you're using buckwheat for. Most often buckwheat will be ground into flour or left whole for cooking like a vegetable. Please continue reading to learn more about this incredible food and find a couple of popular buckwheat recipes below.
Buckwheat is a plant that is grown in many parts of the world but was first domesticated in China. The buckwheat plant has triangular seeds on its head and produces flowers with four petals. Buckwheat contains high levels of fiber, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese. It can be used as an ingredient for breakfast cereal or porridge, a dish made by boiling water mixed with buckwheat, to make it more filling and satisfying. Buckwheat can also be eaten raw like many other types of grains or cooked into pancakes or pasta dishes.
Buckwheat has been recorded in ancient Chinese literature as being used for medicinal purposes. Buckwheat was first domesticated around the 11th century B.C., but it wasn't until the late 20th century that buckwheat became popularized on a global scale as a food crop. It was brought to North America by Russian Mennonite settlers, who named buckwheat "beech wheat". Over the centuries it has been used in buckwheat pillows for better sleep, buckwheat tea to cleanse the blood of toxins and buckwheat oil is used in folk medicine. Traditional foods include buckwheat noodles, buckwheat soba, buckwheat pancakes, and blini.
The nutrient profile of buckwheat is impressive, containing high levels of fiber, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese which are all essential minerals for human health. Buckwheat also contains 13.25 grams of protein per serving, which is very high protein content compared to other grains. Check out our table of the nutritional value of buckwheat below.
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 1,435 kJ (343 kcal)
Carbohydrates 71.5 g
Dietary fiber 10 g
Fat 3.4 g
Saturated 0.741 g
Monounsaturated 1.04 g
Polyunsaturated 1.039 g
omega‑3 0.078 g
omega‑6 0.961 g
Protein 13.25 g
Vitamins Quantity %DV
Thiamine (B1) 0.101 mg 9%
Riboflavin (B2) 0.425 mg 35%
Niacin (B3) 7.02 mg 47%
Pantothenic acid (B5) 1.233 mg 25%
Vitamin B6 0.21 mg 16%
Folate (B9) 30 μg 8%
Vitamin C 0 mg 0%
Minerals Quantity %DV
Calcium 18 mg 2%
Copper 1.1 mg 55%
Iron 2.2 mg 17%
Magnesium 231 mg 65%
Manganese 1.3 mg 62%
Phosphorus 347 mg 50%
Potassium 460 mg 10%
Selenium 8.3 μg 12%
Sodium 1 mg 0%
Zinc 2.4 mg 25%
Other constituents Quantity
Water 9.8 g
As a whole grain, buckwheat is high in fiber which can help to regulate digestion and prevent constipation. Buckwheat is also an excellent source of magnesium which helps to support nerve and muscle function as well as energy production. Copper supports iron absorption and utilization, while manganese is required for enzyme activation and antioxidant defenses.
In studies, buckwheat has been shown to help regulate insulin levels and blood sugar, which can help people with diabetes, as well as reduce bad cholesterol levels and inflammation. It does this by slowing down the absorption of food, which also helps keep you full longer. Buckwheat is also very high in rutin, a flavonoid that helps to strengthen capillaries and improve circulation which can lower blood pressure. It has also been shown to be helpful in preventing and managing heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and other chronic conditions.
Are there any adverse effects to eating buckwheat?
Buckwheat is a gluten-free grain so it can be a good alternative for those who are sensitive to gluten. It has also been shown to increase antioxidant activity, which may help reduce oxidative damage in the body caused by free radicals. Some people have proven to be allergic to buckwheat which is the only adverse effect. If you are allergic to rice or latex, you have a greater chance of also being allergic to buckwheat too.
Buckwheat is a versatile ingredient and can be used in both sweet and savory recipes. It can be made into flour to use in baking, or it can be cooked whole like rice. Some popular buckwheat recipes include buckwheat noodles, buckwheat soba, buckwheat crepes, buckwheat granola, and buckwheat pancakes. Below we will tell you how to make buckwheat soba and pancakes.
- 2 cups buckwheat flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking power
- 2 cups milk or almond milk
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup, honey, or sugar
- 2 tablespoons melted butter or oil
- 2 eggs
In a medium bowl, whisk together buckwheat flour, salt, and baking powder. In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together milk, eggs, and maple syrup. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Fold in melted butter or oil.
Preheat your griddle over medium heat and lightly grease with cooking spray or butter. Scoop ¼ cup batter to the griddle and cook for about two minutes per side, or until golden brown. Serve with your favorite toppings like butter, jam, bananas, or nuts and enjoy this nutritious breakfast food.
- 2 cups buckwheat flour
- ⅔ cup water
Place the buckwheat flour in a medium bowl. Add the water and stir until well combined. Let the dough sit for about 15 minutes so that the buckwheat can soak up some of the water. Knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball. If the dough feels dry, add a tiny bit of water. When smooth, roll out the dough into a rectangle. Cut the noodles a quarter of an inch thick.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add buckwheat noodles. Cook for about five minutes, or until the buckwheat soba is al dente (firm but not hard). Drain well and serve with your favorite stir-fried vegetables like cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, onions. You can also use buckwheat soba as a base for a soup or salad.
Buckwheat is an ancient grain that has been used for food and medicinal purposes for centuries. It is a gluten-free grain that has many health benefits as it can help regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels and may prevent or manage heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and other chronic conditions. Some people may be allergic to buckwheat but it is otherwise safe to eat. Buckwheat flour can be used to make buckwheat pancakes and buckwheat soba, both of which are nutritious and we provide the recipes above. Thank you for reading our article, should you have any questions about incorporating buckwheat in your diet we suggest that you consult with your doctor, healthcare provider, or nutritionist. If you are experiencing an allergic reaction to buckwheat, please seek immediate medical attention.
References and Sources:
- Pollen and macrofossils attributable to Fagopyrum in western Eurasia prior to the Late Medieval: An intercontinental mystery
- Meta-Analysis of the Association Between Whole Grain Intake and Coronary Heart Disease Risk