When it comes to health foods and superfoods, it is often fruits and vegetables that get the attention and praise. While it’s true that fruits and vegetables offer a plethora of health benefits, there are other foods that also offer a ton of nutrition. One food that deserves some attention is buckwheat.
Buckwheat is often mistaken for wheat or grain because it has “wheat” in its name. But buckwheat is actually a triangularly shaped seed. Although it is tiny, buckwheat is one potent superfood filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that yield benefits such as cardiovascular health and anti-cancer effects.
Buckwheat and sprouted buckwheat can be purchased at most grocery stores, health food stores, and online. Many grocery and health food stores also carry buckwheat flour, a great alternative for those with gluten sensitivity.
Buckwheat Health Benefits
Since buckwheat is not a grain, it is gluten-free. This makes buckwheat an all-star food for those who are diagnosed with a gluten allergy, gluten sensitivity, or celiac disease. Buckwheat flour is a popular substitute for those with gluten-related digestive issues. Buckwheat flour is often used instead of white or wheat flour when making pancakes, bread, muffins, cookies, or other baked goods. Buckwheat supports healthy digestion for many people, not just those with gluten intolerance. Buckwheat’s high-fiber content makes it a digestive aid for just about anyone.
In addition to aiding in digestion, buckwheat offers the following health benefits:
Buckwheat certainly offers more “bang for the buck” when it comes to nutrition content. Buckwheat is loaded with nutrients that are essential for a healthy lifestyle. Key ingredients in this superfood include:
Amino acids are essential for muscle growth. They also aid in healthy organ function and give cells and protein the support needed to build, repair, and maintain muscles, tissues, and bones.
Phytochemicals boost the immune system and support cardiovascular health. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, phytochemicals also help fight and prevent cancer.
Antioxidants are powerful fighters that rid the body of dangerous cells called free radicals that can cause life-threatening diseases such as cancer.
Fiber supports digestive health and helps with feeling full, which in turn prevents overeating and supports weight management.
Protein aids in building, repairing, and maintaining muscles and healthy bones. Like fiber, protein creates a feeling of fullness which helps prevent overeating and unhealthy snacking.
Potassium helps regulate fluids in the body and supports healthy muscle activity and heart health.
B6 is a vitamin essential for maintaining energy and stamina. It helps convert food into energy, which helps battle fatigue. B6 also regulates mood and supports healthy brain function.
Magnesium supports nerve and muscle function and regulates blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
In addition to common buckwheat, tartary buckwheat is also available. Tartary buckwheat is sometimes called “bitter buckwheat” since it has a more bitter taste than common buckwheat. Besides the taste distinction, tartary buckwheat stands out from common buckwheat with its high levels of rutin. Rutin is a flavonoid, or phytochemical, that provides health benefits such as preventing cancer. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry revealed that tartary buckwheat possesses a higher level of rutin than common buckwheat does. While the difference in rutin isn’t staggering, it may be a contributing factor when choosing common buckwheat or tartary buckwheat, especially if the goal is an anti-cancer diet.
What Is Sprouted Buckwheat?
Sprouted buckwheat is buckwheat that has been soaked, strained, and watered for a couple of days to allow the seeds to sprout. Sprouted buckwheat can be recognized by the tiny white tails sprouting out of the seeds. Sprouted buckwheat is softer and easier to digest than buckwheat groats, or the plain seeds. Sprouted buckwheat has also been shown to increase nutritional potency. A study published in Phytomedicine revealed that buckwheat that had been sprouted for 48 hours dramatically increased rutin concentration. Sprouted buckwheat can be purchased or made at home.