You may have heard the health buzz about buckwheat… but did it leave you wondering what buckwheat actually is, what you’re meant to do with it, and most importantly, why you should bother with it at all?
This affordable grain has risen in popularity over the last decade with annual sales predicted to grow by a further 2.9% over the next 5 years.1https://www.marketdataforecast.com/market-reports/buckwheat-market. Buckwheat is also one of our top 5 recommended “good grains” here at CG.
So, what’s all the hype about? Read on to discover the mysteries of buckwheat, revealed!
What is buckwheat?
Buckwheat is a gluten-free, low-GI pseudocereal grain that – despite its name – is not related to wheat! “Pseudocereals” are called this because they are used similarly to cereals, although they do not derive from grass plants. Buckwheat has long been a dietary staple in Asia where it is traditionally consumed as soba noodles, and in Eastern Europe where it is eaten as a porridge called kasha.
Nowadays you will find buckwheat in several edible forms: flour, pasta noodles and seeds, also known as ‘groats’. Buckwheat groats are versatile and can be consumed like any other grain. You can sprout, roast and boil them, use them in place of rice for risotto or oats for porridge, add a handful to your soup, use the flour to make bread or pancakes – and more!
Why is buckwheat good for you?
In addition to its culinary versatility, buckwheat has numerous health benefits:
1. Gut health
Buckwheat groats are rich in fibre and resistant starch. This makes them great for your gut health as they aid intestinal motility, reducing your risk of constipation2https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-agricultural-science/article/abs/phytochemicals-and-biofunctional-properties-of-buckwheat-a-review/B9D5817B1F650617B2BBCA01503FCEE7
2. Blood sugar
The glycaemic index (GI) rates foods by how quickly they affect your blood sugar levels. Buckwheat is a low-medium GI food, which is ideal; research shows that it can help slow the release of energy into your body, reducing blood sugar spikes, providing you with longer-lasting energy3https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22472288/4https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14640572/
3. Heart health
Buckwheat is rich in carbohydrates (think fibre and resistant starch) as well as protein, minerals and antioxidants! In fact, buckwheat contains more antioxidants than other grains such as oats, rye and wheat!6https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S09639969010018557https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16756343/8https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18072736/.
What’s the nutrient break-down?
100g of dry, roasted buckwheat will provide you with10https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/5682/2 –
- Energy – 346kcal
- Carbohydrate – 74.9g
- Fibre – 10.3g – 1/3 of your recommended daily intake!
- Protein – 11.7g
- Fat – 2.7g
…as well as a variety of minerals including magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc and selenium!
How do you prepare buckwheat?
Buckwheat has a slightly earthy, bitter taste and nutty texture and can be eaten hot or cold, sweet or savoury. You can eat buckwheat groats raw, however; if you have a slightly sensitive digestive system, we’d advise cooking first. If you consume raw, do make sure you soak them for 3+ hours first and rinse well before consuming.
To cook – add 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of buckwheat to a pan and simmer gently for approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
Where can I source buckwheat?
Buckwheat groats and flour can easily be found online and in health-food stores or larger supermarkets.
Buckwheat is generally suitable for everyone, including those with coeliac disease. When purchasing, do make sure your buckwheat has not been processed alongside wheat to avoid cross-contamination.
Stay tuned for buckwheat recipes and cooking tips coming your way soon!