Buckwheat is part of a group of food items referred to as pseudocereals. These pseudocereals are seeds eaten as grains of cereal but which are not developed on grasses. Other pseudocereals that are considered common include amaranth and quinoa. Despite the name, buckwheat has no relation to wheat which means that it is free from gluten. Buckwheat is utilized in making tea and can also be turned into noodles, flour, and groats.
The said groats can be treated similarly to as rice and are part of numerous Asian and European traditional dishes. Buckwheat is regarded as a food item that is healthy due to its antioxidant content along with increased mineral levels. There are two variants of buckwheat- Fagopyrum Esculentum (Common Buckwheat) and Fagopyrum Tartaricum (Tartary buckwheat)- that are commonly cultivated as a food.
Buckwheat is usually grown in the Northern Hemisphere particularly in Eastern and Central Europe, China, Kazakhstan, and Russia. For those who want to know more about buckwheat, read on to find out!
Buckwheat Nutritional Facts
Buckwheat’s main dietary component is carbs. Various minerals and proteins along with antioxidants can also be found in buckwheat. Compared to many other grains, buckwheat has a nutritional value that is much higher. Every 100 gram serving of buckwheat (or around 3.5 ounces) can provide Fat in the amount of 3.4 grams, fiber in the amount of 10 grams, Sugar in the amount of zero grams, carbs in the amount of 71.5 grams, protein in the amount of 13.3 grams, water in the amount of 10%, and 343 calories.
Carbs that mainly compose buckwheat are pegged at around 20 percent by weight for boiled groats. They are usually in the starch form, the plant’s primary storage form. Buckwheat also registers a low score on the GI or glycemic index level. The GI level is the measurement of fast food items that can raise the level of sugars in the blood. This means that those food items with a score on the GI index that is low will not lead to blood sugar spikes that are unhealthy.
Some carbs that are soluble in buckwheat such as fagopyritol and D-Chiro-inositol, have been observed to aid in moderating the increase in the levels of blood sugar.
Buckwheat also has significant levels of fiber that the body is unable to digest. As such, this kind of nutritional content can be beneficial for the health of the colon. In terms of weight, fiber is made up of boiled groats in the amount of 2.7% and is mainly made up of lignin and cellulose. The husk is where most of the fiber is concentrated and serves as the groat’s coating. The said husk is retained in buckwheat flour that is dark to provide with a flavor that is unique.
In addition, the husk has starch that is resistant which can resist the processes of digestion bringing it under the category of fiber. The starch that is resistant is fermented in the colon by gut bacteria. These good bacteria can initiate the production of SCFAs or short-chain fatty acids, an example of which is butyrate.
Other SCFAs and Butyrate serve as the cell’s nutrition and also doubling as the colon’s lining. These bacteria are beneficial and can greatly improve the health of the gut and reduce the risk of developing cancer of the colon.
Protein can also be found in small amounts in Buckwheat. In terms of weight, protein is composed of around 3.4% of buckwheat groats that are broiled. Due to its amino acid profile that is well-balanced, buckwheat protein is considered to have a quality that is quite high. It has also been shown to contain increased amounts of amino acids such as arginine and lysine. The protein’s digestibility, however, is considered low due to antinutrients such as tannins and protease inhibitors.
For animals, protein from buckwheat has been shown to be effective at having blood cholesterol reduced, suppression of the formation of gallstones, and having the risk of colon cancer reduced.
Unlike other pseudocereals though, buckwheat is free from gluten and is therefore ideal for individuals who have issues with the tolerance of glucose.
Minerals and Vitamins
Buckwheat has increased levels of minerals compared to other regular cereals such as corn, wheat, and rice. However, in terms of vitamins, buckwheat does not seem to have these in high amounts or levels. One of the major variants of buckwheat which is Tartary buckwheat contains increased levels of nutrients compared to other common variants of buckwheat.
Some of the more common minerals in buckwheat include:
- Manganese- This mineral can be obtained mostly in whole grains and is crucial for healthy levels of antioxidants, development, growth, and metabolism.
- Copper- This mineral is often overlooked in diets from the West but it is a significant trace element that can be beneficial for the health of the heart when consumed in small portions.
- Magnesium- If taken in the diet within adequate amounts, this important mineral can aid in the reduction of various conditions that are chronic such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
- Iron- Being deficient in this crucial mineral can result in anemia, a health condition usually described as having blood that has reduced carrying capacity for oxygen.
- Phosphorus- This mineral has a critical role in the maintenance and growth of the tissues of the body.
In comparison to other types of grains, cooked buckwheat minerals can be absorbed by the body well. This can be attributed to the fact that buckwheat has reduced levels of phytic acid, a form of inhibitor that is commonly used by the body to absorb seeds and grains.
Buckwheat’s other compounds and Health Benefits
Aside from the said minerals, buckwheat also contains other compounds that are plant-based. In fact, it can provide increased levels of antioxidants compared to other grains such as rye, wheat, oats, and barley. Some of the compounds found in buckwheat include D-chiro-inositol, vitexin, quercetin, and rutin
Some of the health benefits are improved control of blood sugar and cardiovascular health.