Though you may not be so familiar with buckwheat, this whole grain has been popular staple in Russia and the Orients and has a prevalent culinary application. When harvested, buckwheat looks similar to sunflower seeds with a hard brownish outer shell. This shell is then removed to reveal the seed coat and the starchy whitish endosperm. Because the seed coat is tan in color, whole grain buckwheat flour is also dark and looks comparable to whole wheat.
Buckwheat was introduced to the United States by Russian immigrants as kasha, and is gradually gaining popularity as more nutritional qualities are discovered. Nowadays, you may find buckwheat groats and farina in the health foods section of your local grocery store, and buckwheat soba noodles and pancakes in the ethnic aisles and Asian restaurants. Additionally, buckwheat is also found in most multigrain bakery products.
One of the contributing factors of its rising popularity is that buckwheat is gluten-free, and thus it becomes a quality source of nutrition for people with gluten allergies and Celiac disease. Buckwheat is also fermented to make gluten-free beer, which is also gaining popularity among special dieters.
Weight Loss and Diabetic-Friendly Nutrition
Whole grain buckwheat is an ideal food choice for weight loss dieters and diabetics. Buckwheat has fewer calories per serving than most other grains. One cup of cooked buckwheat groats is only about 155 calorie compared to the 200+ in wheat or barley. Buckwheat is also free of saturated fat and cholesterol, with 5 grams of dietary fiber and 6 grams of proteins in every cup-size serving. The no fat, high fiber and protein composition gives buckwheat the ability to suppress the appetite, control blood sugar, accelerate food transit during digestion, and help build lean muscle mass.
Buckwheat contains a valuable glycoside, rutin. This compound has been shown to strengthen capillary walls and prevent hemorrhage, and thus having buckwheat in a regular diet can significantly reduce the risk of fatal strokes and heart attacks in people with high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and diabetes. It can also prevent nerve and muscle cell damage and loss of kidney function in diabetics by improving microvasular integrity and circulation. What’s more is that buckwheat also contains D-chiro-inositol, a compound deficient in type II diabetic patients that is required for the proper conduction of insulin. Research has shown that having D-chiro-inositol in your diet can lead to positive results in control and treatment of type II diabetes.
Promotion of Cardiovascular Health
Buckwheat nutrition is also highly beneficial to people with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Buckwheat contains a good balance of all B vitamins and is especially is especially high in niacin, folate and vitamin B6. These vitamins can prevent cholesterol transfer into your blood stream, reducing the cholesterol concentration in your blood. Niacin can also increase the number of your high density lipoproteins (HDL). A higher level of HDL can further help enhance your blood vessel strength and cholesterol removal.
Buckwheat is also an excellent source of iron, magnesium, phosphorous, copper and manganese. These minerals help reduce blood pressure, improve blood oxygenation, and protect you from blood-borne pathogens. Research has also found that buckwheat protein can bind and remove the plaque forming triglycerides and low density lipoproteins (LDL). The additive benefits of these nutrients make buckwheat a highly valuable therapy food for people with weak heart functions and other cardiovascular risks.