Buckwheat – Healthy & Gluten Free

 

buckwheat groats

raw buckwheat “groats”

The name ‘buckwheat’ is very misleading: many people mistakenly believe it is another type of wheat.  It is not a type of wheat, and it does not contain gluten.  Surprisingly, buckwheat is actually the seed of a fruit, and it is related to sorrel and rhubarb.  Despite actually being a seed, it is generally considered to be a whole grain. It has a mild flavour and is very versatile – it can be eaten in place of rice or quinoa or other whole grains, or it can be eaten as a cereal instead of oatmeal.

Here are seven reasons why buckwheat is a highly nutritious food:

  1. It is packed with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
  2. It is rich in flavonoids, especially rutin and quercitin.  The flavonoids and phytonutrients are great for heart health because they have a positive effect on cholesterol (lower LDL bad cholesterol, and raise HDL good cholesterol), improve blood flow, help blood clotting, and neutralize free radicals.
  3. It contains a high concentration of the mineral magnesium, which relaxes blood vessels, improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure.  Magnesium also acts as a co-factor for many enzymes – including enzymes that affect the body’s glucose and insulin levels.
  4. Studies have shown that buckwheat can play a role in healthy blood sugar control.
  5. It also contains high quality protein, as it contains all eight essential amino acids, including lysine.
  6. Lysine (found in buckwheat) is important for proper growth, helps with calcium absorption and can also play a key role in the formation of collagen – helpful for our bones, tendons, ligaments and skin.  Lysine also helps the body deal with cold sores.
  7. Buckwheat is a very good source of insoluble fiber, making it is very good for digestion.  This type of fiber helps food move quickly through the intestinal system, helps reduce the secretion of bile acids, improves insulin sensitivity, and reduces triglycerides.

Buckwheat is usually available in three forms:

  1. Roasted, whole (called kasha) – which has a nuttier flavor than unroasted buckwheat; organic is best
  2. Unroasted, whole; organic is best
  3. Flour – either light or dark. Dark buckwheat flour has a higher nutrient value.

When buckwheat is sprouted it becomes alkaline.  This is very beneficial to balance a dietary lifestyle of highly acidic foods.  For instructions on how to sprout buckwheat and a delicious recipe – see  Sprouted Buckwheat Granola.

So – enjoy a change of pace by adding buckwheat or sprouted buckwheat to your diet in place of cereal or rice. Since buckwheat is a carbohydrate with both protein and fiber, it is also low glycemic, meaning that it won’t cause blood sugar issues. Your body will benefit from all the phytonutrients, and there is no worry about a gluten allergy.

Interested in information about adding more healthy foods to your daily diet?  Contact me – lets work together to build your health with foods that work for you!

 

Informational Resources:

World’s Healthiest Foods – Buckwheat

The Powerful Health Benefits of Buckwheat

The University of Maryland Medical Centre – article on Lysine

Livestrong.com – Buckwheat Nutrition

 

Copyright © 2013 Cathy Ormon – All Rights Reserved