As a gluten-free cereal, buckwheat is a grain that has become a first-choice nutriment for all those suffering from Celiac disease and other health problems related to gluten intolerance.
Thanks to its high protein value containing all of the essential amino acids, buckwheat is also recognized for its nutritional and therapeutic values : an abundance of tannins, catechins, alpha-linolenic acid (a polyunsaturated fatty acid, omega-3), vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6), minerals (phosphorus, copper, magnesium manganese, zinc, iron, calcium, potassium, and selenium), soluble and insoluble fibre and antioxidant compounds. It is also rich in D-chiro-inositol, which helps to reduce the level of glucose in the blood, and in rutin which is a flavonoid recognized for its anti-inflammatory properties and inhibitor of platelet accumulation in the blood.
Various research points to evidence that buckwheat can be beneficial to manage cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, allergies and obesity. As an example, copper is required for the production of red blood cells and magnesium releases blood vessels, lowers blood pressure and serves as a cofactor for over 300 enzymes including those involved in the use of glucose in the body and the secretion of insulin. Manganese supports the health of bones and skin as well as delicate biochemical processes.
Buckwheat contains several nutrients that give it powerful cardiovascular health benefits including protection against blood clots and reduction of blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
It is one of the most important sources of rutin, a flavonoid recognized among 4,900 other elements by Harvard researchers as the most potent anticoagulant to prevent the formation of blood clots. Rutin as well as magnesium and fibres are also known to help reduce blood pressure and promote cardiovascular health by decreasing inflammation and cholesterol. It is often recommended for people suffering from varicose veins, hemorrhoids and retinal hemorrhage.
Is buckwheat a prebiotic?
Prebiotic is a food containing an indigestible ingredient that stimulates the growth and activity of good intestinal bacteria. Buckwheat also provides a kind of starch called “resistant starch” that is not digested by the small intestine. Even though there is only a small percentage of buckwheat starch that is resistant, its beneficial effect on the general health of the intestine is certain.
Protection Against Diabetes and PCOS
Studies on animals and humans reveal that D-chiro-inositol contained in buckwheat could play an important role in the metabolism of glucose, cell signalling as well as on obesity which represents one of the factors at risk for diabetes. D-chiro-inositol could also make the cells more sensitive to insulin and, as a result, reduce the level of glucose in the blood.
D-chiro-inositol can also provide important support for women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), also called Stein-Leventhal syndrome, usually associated with increased insulin resistance.
Improved arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
The rich rutin content of buckwheat helps to inhibit the inflammatory response in the body. A study published in the journal “Arthritis Research & Therapy” demonstrates that rutin has the potential to alter the expression of pro-inflammatory genes in human macrophage cells. These macrophages are recognized as the main source of the action of inflammatory mediators in an immune response of the organism.
Another study demonstrates that oral ingestion of rutin can alleviate inflammatory bowel conditions such as colitis. In addition, fibre in buckwheat improves intestinal transit.
Removal of Allergic Responses
For all forms of allergies other than those related to gluten, buckwheat is also a food of choice. Research published in the journal “International Immunopharmacology” suggests that buckwheat extract has a strong antiallergic activity that could result from its ability to inhibit histamine relaxation and block the expression of the cytokine gene in mast cells.
Possible Anticancer Activity
Some evidence suggests that the fibres contained in buckwheat can help prevent colorectal cancer by pushing the intestine to excrete the toxins that have accumulated there.
Research investigating the effects of polysaccharides in buckwheat proteins demonstrates that they contribute to reducing the proliferation of leukemic cells from an important process known as “cell differentiation”. The induction of this process at the level of leukemic cells has become one of the most important therapeutic approaches to treat this form of cancer.
How to prepare and serve buckwheat
Here are some of the best vegetarian recipes cooked with buckwheat :
- Dark buckwheat flour contains about twice as much protein as pale buckwheat flour.