Buckwheat

Latin name: Fagopyrum esculentum

What is Buckwheat?
Buckwheat is not really a grain but a fruit seed related to sorrel and rhubarb. From a culinary perspective, it is categorized as a grain, and it can be made into porridge or served as an alternative to rice. Similar in size to wheat kernels, buckwheat has an unusual triangular shape; the outer hull must be removed for it to be edible, and this process requires special milling equipment because of its unique shape. Roasted buckwheat has an earthy, nutty taste while unroasted tends to have subtle flavor.

Common buckwheat is thought to have been first cultivated in inland Southeast Asia around 6000 BC, from which it spread to Central Asia and Tibet, and then to the Middle East and Europe by around 4000 BC.

What are the health benefits of Buckwheat?
Neutral and sweet, buckwheat is used by traditional Chinese medicine to treat chronic diarrhea, dysentery, spontaneous sweating, high blood pressure and hypertension, as well as skin lesions.

Buckwheat is a great source of fiber, manganese, magnesium, and is packed with B vitamins. It is also a good quality protein, containing the eight essential amino acids, including lysine, which is usually lacking in grains. Numerous studies have shown that with their rich contents of magnesium and fiber, whole grains, such as buckwheat, can significantly lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes.

One type of phytonutrient that is particularly abundant in whole grains, including buckwheat, are plant lignans, which are converted into a form of mammalian lignans that may help protect against breast and other hormone-dependent cancers, as well as heart disease.

Are there any precautions for Buckwheat?
Because buckwheat does not contain gluten, it is a good grain alternative for gluten-sensitive people. However, be aware that in sensitive individuals buckwheat can be a “hidden allergen,” provoking IgE-mediated anaphylaxis.

Where can I find Buckwheat?
Buckwheat can be found in most grocery stores.

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This entry was posted in Foods, Natural Health Dictionary.