You may have noticed that I use buckwheat flour a lot in my recipes; this is because not only is it useful on ekdasi days, but also it is a very nutritious food. It is also gluten-free, so good for anyone who is coeliac or allergic/ sensitive to wheat or gluten. Buckwheat is technically a fruit rather than a grain, and belongs to the ploygonaceae family of plants which also includes knotweed and rhubarb. Here are some of the facts I found out about the health benefits of buckwheat:
- Canadian scientists have found that buckwheat may help balance blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes, and could be a “safe, easy and inexpensive way to lower glucose levels and reduce the risk of complications.” This is because buckwheat contains a substance called inusitol.
- The inusitol in buckwheat has recently been shown to have a positive effect on PCOs (polycystic ovary syndrome) and research into this is ongoing.
- The carbohydrates in buckwheat act as a "prebiotic", encouraging the growth of friendly bacteria in the gut.
- .Buckwheat contains no gluten: grains with gluten are known to "glue up the works", thus inhibiting vitamin absorption and maybe even wearing out your digestive system prematurely.
- While it is 18% protein, buckwheat nevertheless is equivalent to 90% protein because of its high-quality protein consisting of all the essential aminoacids, especially lysine, threonine, tryptophan and sulphur-containing aminoacids.
- Buckwheat is rich in iron (60-100ppm), zinc (20-30 ppm) and selenium (20-50 ppb)
- It is also a source of the antioxidants rutin (10-200ppm) and tannin (0.1-2%). Rutin strengthens capillary walls and helps prevent damage in cases of high blood pressure and chronic venous insufficiency. (Buckwheat leaf tea is better than the seed for this.)
- One of the proteins in buckwheat has been found to bind tightly to chloresterol, and studies are now being conducted to observe the effects of buckwheat protein on people with high blood lipids.
PS: I have read that buckwheat can cause severe allergic reactions and sensitivities in some people, so if you've never tried it before and you know you have food allergies perhaps it would be wise to go easy on it at first.