Food provides nourishment and energy specially during times when we feel hungry and lethargic. It also gives us proper nutrients that our body needs and, replenishes when our strength is drained due to everyday stress and pollutants. There are also certain foods and supplements that strengthen our immunity and pump us with natural vitamins such as fruits and vegetables. Rare however is when we come across food that not only nourishes and protects, but also heals our body from within. These types of food are called superfood and Buckwheat is one of them.
Is Buckwheat a Grain?
Nope, it is not. The name is actually a misnomer as buckwheat is a seed that comes from a plant called Fagupyrum Esculentum. There are actually two more species of this plant – scientifically named Fagopyrum Tataricum and Fagopyrum Cymosum. Both Esculentum and Tataricum are fit for human consumption. These species are cultivated in Asia, Africa North and South America and, Europe – though originally germinated in the southeast and eastern parts of Asia hundreds of years ago then brought to other regions for trade, among other things.
The plant itself is nondescript – rather short with white flowers and heart-shaped leaves. While aesthetically average, the seeds or buckwheat packs so much nutritional value that it is heralded by dieticians and health aficionados alike and, one of the sought after food products. Best of all, buckwheat is so versatile that it can be eaten in various ways.
Benefits of Buckwheat
What is buckwheat then and what how can we benefit from incorporating it in our diet?
Buckwheat’s superfood tag is not for marketing purposes as a cup of it in processed form called groats contain minerals such as manganese, niacin, copper, zinc, iron, vitamin B6, folate, phosphorus, tannins, selenium, thiamine, calcium and proteins – essential minerals that can fight inflammation, protect the body’s vital organs and immune system and, provide much needed energy for us to cope with everyday stress. Best of all, buckwheat has zero gluten, which is perfect for celiac sufferers and, fat free.
What makes buckwheat truly an amazing organic product are the combination of minerals and amino acids that help reduce the damage on the body’s vital organs caused by unhealthy food consumed – such as those rich in bad fats, sugar, salt and gluten and, heals them gradually. You’ll rarely find mainstream food that brings so much benefits to the body.
Helps Fight Insulin Resistance
For example, consuming buckwheat on a daily basis helps the body fight insulin resistance as this superfood contains rutin – a nutritional element that preserves the system from damages that can affect insulin resistance. This then is beneficial for diabetics as they can manage their blood sugar from spiking.
Once blood sugar is controlled, other positive effects follow for those who wish to improve their diabetes management (even those who don’t) such as suffering less from fatigue and inflammation. One more plus for those who wish to manage their blood sugar, buckwheat is low on the glycemic index unlike other grains and carbohydrates.
Good Alternative to Grain
Another reason why buckwheat, often referred to as a pseudo-cereal for its look and flavour, has steadily grown in popularity is its capacity to provide comfort for celiac sufferers or gluten sensitive individuals. Eating buckwheat everyday or at least as a breakfast staple, which is gluten free unlike other grains and wheat based products, can help eliminate stomach related illnesses that sufferers always go through such as bloating, leaky gut, loose bowel movement and constipation.
Aids Heart Health
For individuals that have cardio vascular related diseases or would like to have a healthy heart, buckwheat is like manna from heaven as it can reduce the the risk brought about by bad cholesterol. Regular consumption can balance or temper LDL and other fats such as total cholesterol, triglycerides while upping the good cholesterol or HDL. Of course, medication is important for those with heart illnesses, but buckwheat can be of great help in managing.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Aside from decreasing LDL, buckwheat helps in weight management, lower blood pressure and total cholesterol as it contains a powerful antioxidant called rutin that enhances the circulatory system and quercetin.
Rutin, which as mentioned above an antioxidant that aids in protecting the heart due to its ability to lower blood pressure and total cholesterol, also have added benefits in fighting cancer as it contains nutrients called polyphenolic antioxidants. These oxidants prevent cancerous cells from forming as they protect the DNA from damage.
In addition, the same phenolic compounds and antioxidants enhances digestive, liver and brain functions.
When it comes to muscle strengthening and growth, buckwheat contains excellent plant protein that is easily digested. With every serving of buckwheat, it has the needed amino acids and protein for muscle renewal – ideal for body builders that want to load up on healthy plant protein.
Buckwheat nutrition does not only end in muscle synthesis; because its is packed with fibre even in a small amount of serving, it helps ease stomach disturbances like constipation or at least aids in regulating bowel movements as it hastens the movement of food through the digestive system. Aside from easing stomach problems, buckwheat when fermented, can also be a good source of prebiotic – a type of healthy gut bacteria that aids in balancing the body’s PH level.
How to Consume It
With all the nutritional value and benefits of buckwheat, how does one eat it then? Should it be taken as is? Buckwheat cannot be eaten in its usual seed form. Nutty in flavour and grain like (i.e. similar to barley) it is often available as flour and groats. Some gluten free and fat free crepes, cakes, breads, pancakes and cookies are made from buckwheat flour. Japanese food lovers would be pleasantly surprised that soba noodles are made from buckwheat. Incidentally, soba is the Japanese term for buckwheat.
Groats meanwhile are kernels that have been dehulled. In Asia, it is often used to make chapattis, pilaff and other gluten free dishes and delicacies.
Although buckwheat has so many benefits, those with specific allergies should always practice caution. Often, people who eat them in large quantities develop physical manifestations like rashes and swelling so always make sure to consume them moderately so as not to suffer from allergic reaction.