What is buckwheat?
Despite having ‘wheat’ in its name, buckwheat is actually a seed and sometimes referred to as a ‘pseudo-grain’. Processed into groats, buckwheat has the appearance of small, nugget-type granules that can be used in the same way as rice. You may also find buckwheat as flour, noodles or even flakes, making it a versatile substitute for wheat flour.
Discover our full range of health benefit guides or check out some of our best buckwheat recipes. Start the day well with our spinach protein pancakes and finish with lamb with buckwheat noodles & tomato dressing.
Nutritional benefits of buckwheat
A 100g serving of buckwheat (boiled) provides:
- 118kcal / 497kj
- 4.3g protein
- 1.2g fat
- 21.3g carbohydrate
- 2.1g fibre
- 65mg magnesium
Top 5 health benefits of buckwheat
1. It's gluten-free
Buckwheat is naturally gluten-free, making it suitable for those with coeliac disease. However, if avoiding gluten is important for you, make sure you check labels when purchasing buckwheat products. This is because some commercial products such as soba noodles may be made using buckwheat combined with wheat and therefore will not be gluten-free.
2. Rich in antioxidants
Buckwheat has an enviable antioxidant profile, better than that of many common cereal grains like oats or wheat. As well as containing plant compounds like rutin, it is one of the richest food sources of d-chiro inositol.
3. May be beneficial for blood sugar management
Buckwheat supplies fibre, and benefits from a low-to-medium glycaemic index. This means it has a moderate effect on blood sugar levels and may even lower blood sugar levels. Studies suggest this effect may be thanks to soluble carbohydrate in buckwheat that makes cells more responsive to the hormone insulin and may delay the digestion of sugar.
4. Supports a healthy heart
Buckwheat is rich in heart-healthy nutrients, including magnesium and fibre. In addition, it is a good source of plant compounds called rutin and quercetin, which have protective antioxidant properties.
5. Source of fibre
Buckwheat is rich in fibre, especially insoluble fibre and a type known as resistant starch, both of which are of particular benefit to gut health. This is because the beneficial bacteria that live in the gut use these fibres as a source of fuel, helping them increase in number and simultaneously produce by-products that are valuable for gut health.
Is buckwheat safe for everyone?
Buckwheat is safe for most people, including those with coeliac disease. However, some people may be allergic. This may be relevant for those with an allergy to latex or rice due to a cross-reactivity.
If you have concerns or queries, refer to your GP or healthcare professional. More information on allergy may be found at NHS website.
This article was last reviewed on 31 August 2021 by Kerry Torrens.
Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.
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