Last Modified on Jun 24, 2014
In this emerging Age of Whole Grains, poor buckwheat is coming late to the dance. What was once a major crop in the US has largely disappeared from our menus--it doesn't do well in industrially over-fertilized fields. Fortunately, buckwheat has long been a staple in parts of Asia and nutritionists are now recognizing that the antioxidants, B vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients in buckwheat make it a superfood.
Increasingly used as a gluten-free alternative to wheat, buckwheat is actually not a cereal like wheat but simply a seed that somewhat resembles wheat and which can be used in similar preparations. In fact, it is much more like a sunflower seed or sorrel. Its seed can be hulled and eaten much in the way oats are used or rice. It can also be ground into a flour for use in baking.
Natural Cures from Buckwheat
Buckwheat is indeed much like wheat flour, but because it is not a true cereal it is rather low on the glycemic index and has much more protein than cereals like wheat and rice. For that reason, buckwheat is finding favor as a flour-alternative for those with Celiac Disease, Diabetes, and Candida. Additionally, a component flavonoid called rutin shows particular promise as a natural remedy for radiation exposure.
Celiac Disease: Because buckwheat contains no gluten, it is much safer for those with Celiac disease to use as a wheat substitute. It should be easier on the digestive tract, unlikely to produce further inflammation.
Buckwheat Meals: So if you're convinced and would like to incorporate buckwheat into your regular dietary habits, what are your options? Well, we're basically talking about groats and buckwheat flour for your raw cooking ingredients. Each can be incorporated into breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals without a hitch.
Groats are the basic hulled whole-grains and the healthiest way to eat buckwheat (buckwheat flour has a slightly higher glycemic index and lacks some of the groats' flavonoids). Those groats can be boiled for an oatmeal-like breakfast (2 parts water to one part groats). Or if you roast buckwheat groats you've got a popular dish known as kasha. Buckwheat pancakes are another popular form of the superfood.
One item to note in your shopping--the darker the flour, the more nutritious. The same seems to go for buckwheat honey, which is sometimes recommended for those with allergies or a cough.
Buckwheat Nutrition: As a whole grain, buckwheat is rich in B vitamins. It also offers a number of other vitamins and minerals in good supply and is a complete source of essential proteins (amino acids), lysine included. Interestingly, a cup of buckwheat also supplies 25% of your daily supply of tryptophan, a serotonin precursor.
Among other great phytochemicals, this grain boasts a good supply of the flavonoids (antioxidants) quercetin and rutin. Finally, one serving additionally provides about 20% of your daily-required magnesium and fiber.
Buckwheat to Remedy Radiation Exposure: You should incorporate buckwheat into your diet as an antidote to radiation exposure, especially if you are undergoing radiation therapy for cancer treatment. This is due to the buckwheat flavonoid rutin, a relatively uncommon glycoside with particular roles in human metabolism. Its foremost medical use is in support of weakened blood vessels, but lab results on animal subjects have found that treatment with rutin shortened the recovery period after radiation exposure. Rutin actually seems to safeguard plants from UV radiation, and other studies have found that the antioxidant can prevent protein damage during irradiation.
Consequently, buckwheat noodles (soba) are being eaten in Japan expressly to reduce the harm of exposure from fallout due to the nuclear disaster in Fukushima.