Other Names of Buckwheat: Beechwheat, hulled buckwheat kernels or groats are known as kasha or kashi in Eastern Europe and Sayraisin in France.

Useful Parts of the Plant: Seeds, greens, sprouts.

Contrary to popular opinion, buckwheat is not a grain like wheat. Often referred to as a pseudo cereal, buckwheat is the seed of a plant that was used in ancient rites and rituals. Being gluten-free, buckwheat is an ideal substitute for people allergic to wheat and other grains. In certain parts of the world, buckwheat is served as an alternative to rice or porridge.

Buckwheat seeds or kernels are similar in size to kernels of wheat but they have a unique triangular shape instead of being oblong. They are inedible until their outer hull is removed. Buckwheat kernels can be sold roasted or plain. Both impart an earthy, subtle flavor to a variety of dishes. Flour made from buckwheat is also available in dark or light forms. This flour is used to make buckwheat pancakes but does not lend itself to good bread making. In Japan, buckwheat is used to make a special type of noodles called soba noodles.

Nutritional Information and Properties of Buckwheat

There are 146kcal in a quarter-cup serving of buckwheat. The seeds are high in carbohydrates and have a moderate amount of protein and fat as well. Buckwheat is a great source is vitamin B and B6 though it does not contain much of the other essential vitamins such as vitamins A, C, D, E, and K. High in minerals such as manganese, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, and selenium, buckwheat naturally contains several healing properties essential for the smooth functioning of the body. Buckwheat is also rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants that can prevent a number of chronic diseases. The flavanoids Rutin and Quercitin are present in buckwheat adding to its health-promoting properties.

Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses of Buckwheat

A regular diet of buckwheat can lower cholesterol and reduce blood pressure levels. Compounds such as Rutin which are found in buckwheat prevent blood clotting and free radical oxidization that can lead to heart disease.

  • The high magnesium levels in buckwheat improve blood circulation and cardiovascular health.
  • Adding buckwheat to your daily diet can control blood sugar and satisfy hunger. Consumption of buckwheat can even prevent type-2 diabetes from developing. Eating a bowl of buckwheat porridge every morning or substituting rice for buckwheat can aid weight loss as well.
  • The insoluble fiber in buckwheat can prevent gallstones from developing.
  • Buckwheat contains an important phytonutrient called lignan that can prevent breast cancer as well as other hormone-dependent cancers from developing.
  • It is recommended that post-menopausal women eat buckwheat to reduce accompanying health problems such as high cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • The dietary fiber in buckwheat also aids the digestive process and can treat constipation.
  • Buckwheat can improve immunity and reduce recurring coughs and colds.
  • The antioxidants present in buckwheat make it an ideal antidote for irradiation procedures such as x-rays.
  • Eating buckwheat regularly can also prevent childhood asthma from developing.

Other Uses

  • The buckwheat plant also attracts bees and produces a strong, dark honey.
  • Buckwheat starch is used to make a jelly called memilmuk in Korea.
  • Buckwheat grains are used a gluten-free substitute to make beer that is suitable for coeliacs.
  • Hulls of buckwheat kernels are used as upholstery fillings in pillows and as an alternative to feather and down fillings.