By Michelle Schoffro Cook, Care2.com
Unrelated to wheat, buckwheat is actually not a grain at all, but a seed of a plant related to rhubarb. As is often the case with seeds, buckwheat’s nutritional value surpasses grains. Here are 12 reasons to explore and love this unsung superfood.
1. It is low on the glycemic index, preventing rapid spikes in blood sugar which causes inflammation, mood swings, and weight gain.
2. Buckwheat has more protein than corn, millet, rice, or wheat and is high in the amino acids lysine and arginine, both of which tend to be deficient in grains and are essential for a healthy heart and strong immunity to illness.
3. It is naturally gluten-free, making it an excellent option for celiacs, those with gluten allergies, or anyone trying to avoid gluten.
4. Because of its amino acid content, it can boost the protein content of beans and grains eaten in the same day.
5. Buckwheat is unsurpassed in its ability to normalize cholesterol levels.
6. In addition to being low glycemic, its protein and fiber content help normalize blood sugar levels, a benefit to diabetics and anyone trying to lose weight. Research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that a single dose of buckwheat seed extract lowered blood glucose levels by 12-19% within 90-120 minutes.
7. Buckwheat has been shown to work in the same way as hypertension drugs, reducing levels of angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE), reducing hypertension without the nasty drug side-effects.
8. It is a good source of tryptophan which helps ensure a sound night’s sleep.
9. It is high in rutin, a natural flavonoid that helps to extend the activity of vitamin C and other antioxidant nutrients.
10. One cup of cooked buckwheat contains about 86 milligrams of magnesium—which boosts heart and muscle health and is necessary for the proper functioning of hundreds of enzymes in the body and therefore hundreds of processes.
11. A study published in the Journal of Gastroenterology showed that a diet high in insoluble fiber like that found in buckwheat can help women avoid gallstones.
12. One cup of cooked buckwheat contains almost 20% of your required daily intake of fiber. Diets high in fiber have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of colon cancer.
6 Ways to Enjoy Buckwheat
1. Use buckwheat flour along with your flour of choice to make pancakes, bread, muffins, and other baked goods.
2. A traditional preparation of kasha (roasted whole buckwheat) is in a stock of onions, parsley, and olive oil.
3. Cook on its own or with equal parts of oats (gluten-free oats if you want a gluten-free breakfast) and top with berries as a hot breakfast cereal.
4. Add cooked buckwheat to soups or stews to add flavor and nutrition.
5. George Mateljan shares his preferred recipe for buckwheat salad with chopped chicken, peas, pumpkin seeds, and scallions tossed with cooked buckwheat.
6. Choose buckwheat noodles for your favorite Asian noodle dish.
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com