Buckwheat is a fruit seed that is related to rhubarb and sorrel which makes it a suitable substitute for grains for people who are sensitive to wheat or other grains that contain protein glutens.
Types of Buckwheat
- Common buckwheat, or Fagopyrum esculentum, as its name suggests, is the most commonly grown variety of buckwheat. This type of buckwheat generally flowers a month after germination, sooner than other types of buckwheat. Common buckwheat is commonly grown for its grain, but is also grown to protect agricultural fields that would otherwise be without crops.
- Tartary buckwheat, also known as “dattan soba,” is a type of buckwheat which originated in the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces of China. It was first cultivated by the Chinese Yi tribe. Tartary buckwheat contains over 100 times the amount of rutin, a botanical used to treat several medical conditions, that natural buckwheat contains. Tartary buckwheat is commonly uses to make buckwheat noodles.
Rutin is a bright yellow bioflavonoid with many antioxidant properties. It is produced within all types of buckwheat plants. Rutin is removed from the flowers and leaves of the buckwheat. According to WebMD, rutin is used to treat osteoarthritis and may be effective for treating varicose veins, blood vessel disease and treating a side effect of cancer treatment.
Buckwheat and Health
- New evidence shows that buckwheat may be helpful in the management of diabetes. Single doses of buckwheat seed extract lowered blood glucose levels by 12-19 percent. The component responsible for these effects is chiro-inositol.
- One study found that women who consumed an average of three servings of whole grains daily, such as buckwheat, had a 21 percent lower risk of diabetes compared to those who ate one serving per week.
- Diets that contain buckwheat have been linked to a lowered risk of developing high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
- Buckwheat contains a good concentration of dietary fiber and magnesium. Fiber has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels while magnesium helps to promote blood vessel relaxation and blood circulation.
- People with celiac disease can eat buckwheat. This is an intestinal disease associated with sensitivity to grains or other foods that contain the protein gluten.
- A concentrated source of phytonutrients called flavonoids that include rutin, quercetin, and kaempferol are found in buckwheat. They are strong antioxidants that protect the cells from harmful free radicals in the body.
References: Mateljan, G. (2007). The Worlds Healthiest Foods. Seattle, WA: George Mateljan Foundation.