If you’re on the hunt for foods that avoid gluten but still deliver all the benefits of whole grains, you’re in luck. Buckwheat not only serves as a wonderful substitute to grain products, but also provides a rich, slightly nutty flavor that makes it a tasty addition to a variety of recipes.
Although currently a niche product in the United States, buckwheat has long been popular all around the world. Grown in Asia thousands of years ago, buckwheat quickly spread to the Middle East and Europe. To this day, the grain-like seed remains a featured ingredient in everything from noodles to pancakes.
While it’s possible to grow buckwheat in many different places, it’s best suited to areas with short growing seasons. Buckwheat’s growing period typically lasts a mere twelve weeks, making it a great option for northern regions and, in some cases, planting second summer crops.
Similar in size to wheat kernels, buckwheat has a triangular shape and a hull that must be removed before eating. It can be sold roasted or unroasted, or ground into a flour. Buckwheat is a versatile source of fiber and provides several valuable nutrients.
Buckwheat is rich in the flavonoids rutin and quercetin. Rutin strengthens the blood vessels while quercetin helps to reduce inflammation. Other notable health benefits of buckwheat include:
Food Option for Celiac Disease
While the name "buckwheat" might make people with gluten intolerance shy away, the food is not actually a wheat — or even a grain. Rather, it's a seed. This makes buckwheat a wonderful option for people with celiac disease or anybody else committed to eating a gluten-free diet. Far more than a simple alternative, buckwheat offers far more fiber, vitamins, and minerals than the rice products that are often used in gluten-free recipes.
Buckwheat is rich in fiber. Fiber allows for regular bowel movements and reduces the potential for experiencing symptoms such as constipation. A diet high in fiber is sure to protect your digestive health.
Manage Blood sugar
Buckwheat can play a valuable role in controlling blood sugar levels. The food is rich in nutrients such as proteins, fibers, and flavonoids. These nutrients found in buckwheat have reportedly helped people with type 2 diabetes manage the condition by improving insulin resistance.
Prevent Cardiovascular Disease
Studies indicate that people who regularly eat buckwheat products have lower cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood glucose levels. By helping to manage these risk factors, a diet rich in buckwheat helps to reduce your chances of developing cardiovascular disease.
Buckwheat contains a variety of antioxidants. These are ideal for fighting oxidative stress and may even help to reduce the risk of developing some types of cancer.
Buckwheat is also an excellent source of minerals such as:
Nutrients per Serving
A one-cup serving of roasted buckwheat groats contains:
Things to Look Out For
Buckwheat flour can be high in calories. Preprepared products containing buckwheat flour often include high levels of added sugar. For maximum benefit, eat buckwheat groats prepared at home.
How to Prepare Buckwheat
Buckwheat can be found in most supermarkets, health food stores, and food cooperatives. It is often available in bulk, although several brands also sell a packaged version. Many people prefer to purchase it as flour, which can be used in place of many other types of flour.
If you're able to consume gluten, consider substituting just half of the flour in a recipe with buckwheat flour, as full buckwheat can make batters dense.
Buckwheat is also available as groats. These hulled seeds are often used in porridge, granola, and other types of cereal. You can blend buckwheat groats with oatmeal or farina to create a diverse cereal milk.
Whether you enjoy it as flour or groats, buckwheat is a versatile, appealing, and nutritional addition to many recipes. Here are a few easy ways to incorporate buckwheat into your diet:
- Replace all-purpose flour with a buckwheat version to add more fiber and other nutrients to your breakfast pancakes.
- Combine buckwheat with bananas, cinnamon, and eggs to create healthy muffins.
- Make porridge with buckwheat groats. You can dress this up with fruit or nuts.
- Mix buckwheat groats with Greek yogurt, chia seeds, and fruit to make a tasty breakfast pudding.
- Use buckwheat groats in place of corn when cooking cheese grits.
- Include buckwheat alongside rolled oats in your favorite granola recipe.
- Use buckwheat flour to create homemade soba noodles.