Buckwheat: The Nutritional Powerhouse Seed

My family and I follow a whole-food plant-based lifestyle as much as we can, which is often not easy. It depends on where you are staying, finances, transport and many other factors (like Covid-19). If you are interested in this way of eating and living, you can read my posts under the Health & Wellness section, with the heading Whole Food. This review is on a seed called Buckwheat

I did not know much about this seed, except that it is very nutritious, energising and good for my family to consume. So I decided to do some research into the background of this interesting groat and to pass the information on to you.

This pyramid-like shaped (triangle) seed is usually called a groat, because it comes from the hulled seed of a flowering plant.

Buckwheat is a type of seed called a pseudocereal

From Wikipedia:

pseudocereal is one of any non-grasses that are used in much the same way as cereals (true cereals are grasses). Their seed can be ground into flour and otherwise used as cereals. Examples of pseudocereals are amaranth (Love-lies-bleeding, red amaranth, Prince-of-Wales-feather), quinoa, and buckwheat.

In The Spruce Eats website, they explain that “Buckwheat has been cultivated for more than 8,000 years and is sometimes called an ancient grain. It was a common crop worldwide until nitrogen fertilizer was introduced in the 20th century, which increased the production of corn and wheat. As a result, these crops were planted in fields formerly used for buckwheat, and the production of buckwheat fell dramatically, although it still figures prominently in Eastern European cuisines.”

It is actually not a type of wheat (as the name implies) or a grain, but a fruit seed!
Buckwheat flower field
Isn’t this an amazing photo of a Buckwheat field of flowers! Image by Quang Nguyen vinh from Pixabay

Buckwheat is related to sorrel (the garden herb or salad vegetable) and rhubarb. If you don’t know much about rhubarb, then check out this really well written article on Huffpost.com. Here is an excerpt:

Rhubarb might be a seasonal spring darling, but that doesn’t mean that everyone knows what it is exactly. If you’re one of those people who secretly has no idea what rhubarb is, or think you know but aren’t confident enough to say it out loud, you’ve come to the right place. We’re about to break it down for you. 

Rhubarb is technically a vegetable, but is legally considered a fruit.

Julie R. Thomson continues to explain this vegetable / fruit phenomenon… A very interesting read.

Buckwheat Flower
This is a Buckwheat flower: gorgeous isn’t it!

Because this seed is not a grain but a “vegetable”, it is a suitable substitute for grains for those who are sensitive to wheat (or other grains that contain protein glutens).

Not only is it gluten-free, it is also a very good source of fibre

Fibre (roughage) helps to:

  • keep your digestive system healthy,
  • aids in helping you to feel fuller (assisting with weight loss),
  • prevents constipation,
  • lowers the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, bowel cancer and strokes,
  • cleans out bacteria and prevents a build up in your intestines due to the scrubbing effect.
Buckwheat is rich in minerals and various plant compounds, especially rutin

I researched rutin extensively, as I have no idea how it benefits our bodies. This is what I found out from the Healthline.com website:

Rutin is a bioflavonoid, or plant pigment, that is found in certain vegetables and fruits. Apples are full of rutin. Buckwheat, most citrus, figs, and both black and green tea also contain rutin.

Rutin has powerful antioxidant properties. It also helps your body produce collagen and use vitamin C. You can add rutin to your diet by eating foods that contain it or taking it in supplement form.

To summarise the above article, rutin is beneficial in helping blood circulation, preventing blood clots, lowering cholesterol, and reducing arthritis pain.

Healthy nutritious whole-food
Heart-healthy seed! Image by hugok38 from Pixabay

But just be careful because I also found out that too much rutin, or if consumed incorrectly (such as excessive amounts of raw or high dose supplements) can lead to stomach upsets, headaches, rashes and blurred vision. So make sure to rather consume it naturally in food products rather than in supplement form, and watch the amount that you have if you have a sensitive stomach. Don’t over do it – moderation is the key, right!

Buckwheat is also a good source of magnesium

The mineral magnesium, has many many benefits. You can read all about it in my posts Ultimag Magnesium and Zinc vs Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Help for Fatigue and Muscles.

Buckwheat consumption is linked to several health benefits

I found this information in the non-profit whfoods.com website (World’s Healthiest Foods), an incredible site that everyone should read as often as they can.

The George Mateljan Foundation for the World’s Healthiest Foods was established by George Mateljan to discover, develop and share scientifically proven information about the benefits of healthy eating, and to provide the personalized support individuals need to make eating The World’s Healthiest Foods enjoyable, easy, quick and affordable.

To summarise, they say that Buckwheat is beneficial because:

  • it is good for your cardiovascular system;
  • contributes to blood sugar control and lowers the risk of diabetes;
  • helps to prevent gallstones;
  • protects against heart disease;
  • prevents heart failure;
  • protects against breast cancer;
  • reduces the possibility of childhood asthma;
  • provides protection against atherosclerosis, ischemic stroke, diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity, and premature death.

There is a nutrients rating chart, as well as a really in-depth nutritional profile for Buckwheat on the stunning World’s Healthiest Foods website. 

Buckwheat has a high protein content
Comparing the protein content
High protein contents: rice, lentils and buckwheat

I found out a fascinating fact, that Buckwheat has more protein than rice, wheat, millet or corn. 

It is also high in lysine and arginine (essential amino acids), in which major cereal crops are actually deficient. 

Amino acids and proteins are the building blocks of life.  

If you are clueless as to what Amino Acids are then, for your information: 

Amino acids are organic compounds that combine to form proteins. Elements that are held together by a chemical bond form a compound. Organic compounds typically consist of groups of carbon atoms bonded to hydrogen, usually oxygen, and often other elements as well. (Hope that clears it up!?!)

When proteins are digested or broken down, amino acids are left. Buckwheats unique amino acid profile gives it the power to boost the protein value of beans and cereal grains eaten the same day. 

Beautiful pink Buckwheat fields
Beautiful pink Buckwheat field. Image by Schwoaze from Pixabay

Buckwheat is available throughout the year. There are many uses for it, such as:

  • it can be made into a porridge;
  • used instead of rice;
  • as a good binding agent for baking, as it becomes gelatinous in liquid; 
  • toasted and sprinkled on salads or in granola or yoghurt;
  • sprouted for use on salads; 
  • the groats can be ground into flour for use in noodles, crepes and pancakes.

I use the Krups Grinder to grind my buckwheat. It works incredibly well! Check out my review on this wonder grinder here: Krups, the perfect grinder

Wondering how to Cook Buckwheat?

Well this is how:

Rinse it, then cook it in a 1:2 ratio of water. Bring the water to a boil, and then add the groats and some salt. Let it come to a boil again, and then cover the pot, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook it for about 15 minutes or until it becomes tender. That’s it! Nice and easy.

There are many videos on YouTube that go into great detail showing how to cook this awesome seed. 

I hope that you give buckwheat a try and that you really enjoy the nutty, crunchy texture. Any questions, please feel free to ask away.

Delicious groats
A delicious healthy meal made from groats. Image by monicore from Pixabay

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