Gluten-Free Buckwheat’s Bonanza of Health Benefits

Did You Know… 

… that buckwheat is not wheat at all, contains no gluten, and is considered one of the world’s healthiest foods?

Looking for a healthier, gluten-free alternative to rice and oats?  Buckwheat has a grain-like consistency, but isn’t a grain at all.  It’s actually a fruit seed… and because it contains no wheat or gluten, it’s perfect for the gluten sensitive!  Buckwheat has an impressive nutritional profile—full of magnesium, protein, copper, tryptophan, fiber, and eight essential amino acids, it’s the perfect nutty taste to satisfy cravings and satiate hunger.

Heart Health 

Replacing that bowl of oatmeal with a bowl of buckwheat groats topped with berries is a heart healthy move.  Numerous studies have shown that buckwheat lowers LDL cholesterol (LDL cholesterol is the harmful type of cholesterol that increases your risk of heart disease) and significantly reduces high blood pressure.  The Yi people of China eat a diet high in buckwheat (approximately 100 grams, or 3.5 ounces per day).  Researchers tested the blood lipids of 805 Yi Chinese and found they had lower LDL cholesterol and higher HDL cholesterol (HDL cholesterol is the good kind of cholesterol that protects against heart disease).

Other research has shown that buckwheat can lower blood pressure as effectively as “ACE” hypertension drugs. Buckwheat suppresses the expression of the angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE), thereby regulating blood pressure.

Buckwheat owes its heart healthy powers to a dense concentration of flavonoids, particularly the antioxidant rutin, which strengthens blood vessels and boosts circulation for optimal blood flow.  And let’s not forget the nutritive effects of magnesium.  Just one cup of buckwheat provides 86 milligrams of magnesium, which relaxes blood vessels and enhances blood flow and nutrient delivery to tissues, cells, and organs.

Diabetes Defender 

What do rice, wheat, and corn all have in common?  They are grains that trigger a spike in blood sugar and can accelerate or exacerbate the onset of prediabetes and diabetes.  Buckwheat, on the other hand, helps regulate blood sugar and insulin responses through the activity of a compound called chiro-inositol, which controls glucose metabolism by helping cells be more receptive to insulin.  One study made up of 36,000 women in Iowa showed that those who ate an average of three servings of whole grains (like buckwheat) a day had a 26% lower risk of diabetes!

Fortify with Fiber 

Foods rich in fiber speed the digestion of food through the intestinal tract, decrease the secretion of bile acids that promote gallstones and other digestive complications, increase insulin sensitivity, and lower heart-compromising triglycerides.  Buckwheat contains 17 grams of fiber per cup, and more protein than rice, millet, or corn.

Cook it Up! 

Substitute buckwheat steamed with parsley, basil, onions, and extra virgin olive oil, for hot cereal.  You can also sprout buckwheat by soaking untoasted seeds in water, draining, and exposing to air for two days.  Add to salads as a crunchy topping… much healthier than croutons!  Buckwheat soba noodles, a Japanese specialty, are sure to dethrone wheat pasta as the healthiest noodle in town!