Superfoods: Buckwheat

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Posted by Meeta K. Wolff

Seed, Grain and Health Powerhouse

Though it is usually thought of as a grain, buckwheat is actually the seed of a broadleaf plant related to rhubarb. While it is not a true grain, it is used like one in cooking, and it surpasses rice, wheat and corn on almost every measure of healthfulness (including the fact that rice, wheat, and corn are high on the glycemic scale, thus provoking a quick spike in blood sugar levels, a proven promoter of systemic inflammation). Buckwheat, on the other hand, ranks low on the glycemic scale.

Hulled buckwheat kernels (called groats) are pale tan-to-green, while the roasted buckwheat groats known as Kasha—a staple food in Eastern Europe—are dark brown with a nutty flavor. Kasha is often steamed in a stock with onions, olive oil, and fresh parsley, and you can combine equal parts plain buckwheat groats and oats, and cook the mix to enjoy as a hot breakfast cereal topped with berries. Buckwheat has been cultivated for at least 1,000 years in China, Korea and Japan, where it is often enjoyed in the form of buckwheat “soba” noodles—a form that’s become increasingly popular in the West as a healthy substitute for wheat pasta.

Buckwheat has more protein than rice, wheat, millet, or corn, and is high in the essential amino acids lysine and arginine, in which major cereal crops are deficient. Its unique amino acid profile gives buckwheat the power to boost the protein value of beans and cereal grains eaten the same day. Yet, buckwheat contains no gluten—the source of protein in true grains—and is therefore safe for people with gluten allergy or celiac disease.

Buckwheat Protein's Unique Health-Promoting Properties:

The specific characteristics of buckwheat proteins, and the relative proportions of its amino acids, make buckwheat the unsurpassed cholesterol-lowering food studied to date.
Its protein characteristics also enhance buckwheat’s ability to reduce and stabilize blood sugar levels following meals—a key factor in preventing diabetes and obesity.
Like the widely prescribed “ACE” hypertension drugs, buckwheat proteins reduce the activity of angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE), thereby reducing hypertension.

Why Buckwheat is Better Than Grains

More vitamins and minerals. Compared with true grains, buckwheat is high in minerals: especially zinc, copper, and manganese.
Healthier fat profile. Unlike true grains, buckwheat’s low fat content is skewed toward mono unsaturated fatty acids—the type that makes olive oil so heart-healthful.
Healthier starch and fiber profile. The fiber in true grains other than barley is largely insoluble, while a considerable portion of buckwheat dietary fiber is the soluble type that makes oats so heart-healthful, and yields digestion byproducts that reduce blood cholesterol levels and the risk of colon cancer. Buckwheat is also high in “resistant starch,” which also enhances colon health, and serves to reduce blood sugar levels.
Reduces high blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol, and discourages obesity. Most recently, a buckwheat extract substantially reduced blood glucose levels in diabetic rats: a promising finding that should lead to similar research in human diabetics. This blood sugar benefit is attributed in part to rare carbohydrate compounds called fagopyritols (especially D-chiro-inositol), of which buckwheat is by far the richest food source yet discovered.
Contains flavonoids for heart and circulatory health. In addition to its marked nutritional benefits, buckwheat has been traditionally prized as a “blood-building” food. Modern science attributes this ancient reputation to buckwheat’s high levels of antioxidant polyphenols—especially rutin (a bioflavonoid), which supports the circulatory system and helps preventing recurrent bleeding caused by weakened blood vessels, as in hemorrhoids and varicose veins. Finally, rutin acts as an ACE inhibitor, and contributes to buckwheat’s ability to reduce high blood pressure.

(Source: Dr. Perricone’s 10 Superfoods)

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This Post was contributed by Pintoo from Zaayka


I'm just going out to buy some bread flour, and after reading this I think I'll get some buckwheat flour too, to add to the mix ... I had NO IDEA it was related to rhubarb, or that it was such a superfood - I've only ever really thought of it as something to use if you want the pancakes to taste interesting!


Joanna said...
September 6, 2007 at 4:25:00 PM GMT+2  

Anyone got recipes using buckwheat flour, other than the eternal pancakes? :)

Shammi said...
September 6, 2007 at 4:55:00 PM GMT+2  

You must be a mind-reader! Just this morning, I found a recipe for buckwheat flour yeasted pancakes/ bread and had put buckwheat flour on my shopping list. After reading this, I am even happier about adding it to my pantry.

Nupur said...
September 6, 2007 at 5:31:00 PM GMT+2  

This is great! I'd heard of buckwheat flour and know of friends who use it to make bread but I didn't know most of this. It's great, thank you!

September 6, 2007 at 5:50:00 PM GMT+2  

I love making buckwheat pancakes and healthy!

Helene said...
September 6, 2007 at 8:56:00 PM GMT+2  

I've eaten buckwheat pancakes before and they tasted good! this is a nice article...looks liek we can replace rice flour for buckwheat in plenty ways for a healthy meal:)

thanks for sharing!

Mansi said...
September 6, 2007 at 10:47:00 PM GMT+2  

Great information. I sell a wonderful pancake mix using Kasha (roasted buckwheat) I have found roasted buckwheat is much easier for the average consumer to eat. The health benefits are very impressive.

Anonymous said...
September 7, 2007 at 6:00:00 PM GMT+2  

I make a thick heavy bread which is delicious with omelets, beans, or by itself with butter/jam.

Two cups buckwheat flour
two eggs
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/8 chia seeds
tbls Bragg's amino acids
half apple chopped in tiny pieces
one cup lowfat mozerrella cheese

mix it all, stir it up

grease skillet with virgin coconut oil, put on very low flame, cook for about an hour until it appears done, then flip for a few minutes...

Friends, it doesn't get much healthier than this.

Anonymous said...
December 21, 2007 at 12:51:00 AM GMT+1  

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