Are you into healthy grain alternatives? Heard about buckwheat? If not, learn what is buckwheat groats: nutrition value and health benefits.
Imagine being worry-free about your carbs intake when you eat bread, pancakes, or your morning cereal? For most of us, it is always an issue because of the fear of potential weight gain. Right?
What is the solution?
It is one of the most underrated ancient grains and a fantastic superfood. It is known for its beneficial effects on heart health, weight loss, blood sugar levels, and digestion.
But first, you should understand what buckwheat is, why buckwheat groats are so beneficial, and how you can use it.
- What Is Buckwheat Groats?
- Buckwheat Groats Nutrition Value
- Buckwheat Groats Health Benefits
- Effect on Weight Loss
- Is Buckwheat a High Fiber Low Carbs Foood?
- Is There Gluten In Buckwheat?
- Buckwheat Glycemic Index
- How To Eat Buckwheat
With this in mind, let’s dive in!
1. What Is Buckwheat Groats?
First, this nutritional wonder is a traditional staple in Eastern European cuisine. Since I grew up there, I can say that I grew up on buckwheat. It was a must-have in my family cooking, and we loved its soft texture, a little nutty feel, and fantastic aroma.
Second, buckwheat groats are seeds from the broadleaf plant related to sorrel or rhubarb and have a complex carbohydrates composition. As a result, they are more superior compared with refined grains. (1)
So, you should use buckwheat groats in recipes required whole grains.
Third, groats have an exterior coat known as husk or hull. If it’s removed, you get hulled groats. They are either tan or green.
In my family, we used roasted buckwheat, which is a brown color and has a nutty flavor. It is called “kasha.” I love both–groats and kasha–, but my preference is roasted buckwheat, mainly because of its distinctive flavor.
In contrast, buckwheat is not a grass. It is referred to as “pseudocereal” for the reason that its seeds are used in cooking as cereal plants. For this reason, buckwheat is not one of the classic cereal grains. However, we still refer to buckwheat as a grain because we use it as grain-like in cooking. Other common pseudocereals are quinoa and amaranth.
Finally, some people might hear about buckwheat as a cover crop. What is it?
It is interesting to know that cover crops were planted after regular harvest time to help “reinstate” quality and fertility of the soil, reduce diseases, and increase biodiversity. Besides, the cover crop may grow during winter. (2)
Because of creation of fertilizers and lesser need in cover crops, cultivation of buckwheat in the 20th century declined following by the roaring years of buckwheat renaissance.
→ TAKEAWAY: Buckwheat is not a classic grain but used as a grain alternative by millions of people around the world.
2. Buckwheat Groats Nutrition Value
The next key point to emphasize is that buckwheat has superb nutritional value.
See below a report from the USDA National Nutrient Database for buckwheat groats nutrition:
As can be seen, 1 cup of 168-gram buckwheat serving gives you 647 calories, 5.67 grams of protein and a rich source of complex carbohydrates, and dietary fiber. So, if you are wondering about if buckwheat is a carbohydrate or protein, now you have the answer.
In fact, buckwheat is a source of complete protein because of its unique amino acids’ makeup. I need to point out that your body “makes” 11 out of 20 amino acids’, which are protein. The rest you get from food. And that is why buckwheat is so valuable – it has all of them.
Another key point – buckwheat has a unique composition of amino acids’ with particular biological effects. (3) Some of those amino acids’ are lysine and arginine in which the regular cereals are deficient.
Also, buckwheat is beneficial because of its minerals. It is rich in potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, as well as iron and zinc.
Besides, what we can add to buckwheat groats nutritional value is a variety of vitamins.
Based on the above, it is no wonder that for thousands of years, buckwheat was a must-have food for a population of Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe, notably Russia and China.
→ TAKEAWAY: Overall, buckwheat nutritional value is superior compared with classical grains. It is higher in minerals, has a better fat profile because of low-fat content, has more beneficial fiber and healthier starches.
3. Buckwheat Health Benefits
Are you ready to try this ancient grain alternative?
Buckwheat is your health super powerhouse. It shows a beneficial effect on the following:
- heart health
- cholesterol level reduction
- anti-diabetic effect
- gut health
- improvement of hypertension condition (4)
It is especially critical to point out that buckwheat shows a higher antioxidant effect compared with, for example, with oats and barley. (5)
It also must be remembered that the healing effects of buckwheat can be attributed to flavonoids providing benefits via cell signaling pathways and antioxidant effects. Besides, they play a critical role in heart and circulatory health.
I should emphasize the ability of buckwheat to low cholesterol. What makes a trick?
This effect is because of the crop’s unique amino acids’ composition and specific characteristics of buckwheat proteins.
Finally, a special note is about buckwheat and gut health. It provides prebiotic-like benefits and encourages the good bacteria in your digestive tract.
There is compelling evidence that buckwheat not only stimulates the best strains of good gut flora but has the potential to reduce specific types of pathogenic bacteria. (6)
→ TAKEAWAY: Buckwheat groats health benefits include lowering blood glucose and blood pressure, acting as a healthy prebiotic, antioxidant, reducing weight and risk of obesity. It is also a great source of energy.
4. Buckwheat as Superfood: Effect On Weight Loss
Trying to lose weight?
If yes, you should include buckwheat as a part of your diet because it might promote weight loss.
Also, whenever I eat buckwheat, I always feel “light” and not hungry. The logical explanation is that it takes time to break down complex carbs.
On the contrary, simple carbs, especially in baked goods, have tons of sugar and are easier to break down. Well, that’s why you are hungry again and again.
Having said that, since you need carbs for energy–and buckwheat is a fantastic energy source–it is smart to include buckwheat in your diet. It will keep you full and reduce the need for a snack between meals.
Besides, buckwheat prevents a spike in blood sugar levels after a meal.
Based on some international studies, buckwheat groats– mainly boiled buckwheat groats– show the highest content of “resistant starch” which is crucial to show the low result in after-meal blood glucose test. (7)
→ TAKEAWAY: Among buckwheat groats health benefits, prevention of diabetes and obesity is a major point and is priceless for those with weight problems.
5. Is Buckwheat Groats High Fiber Low Carb Food?
Recently I have published an article “14 Foods That Can Help You Relieve Constipation.” It was about my favorite high-fiber foods and buckwheat was one of them.
Why fiber is critical?
The first thing to remember is that dietary fiber is a carbohydrate part of a plant which a human body cannot break down.
Second, it plays a key role in supporting the intestines and helping to move food through the digestive tract and down the colon.
How it might help you with occasional constipation and bloating?
Because fiber holds water adding bulk to your stool, and as a result, it makes it easier to pass.
It is important to know that compared with regular grains, buckwheat has the highest amount of fiber – 10 gr for 100 gr of groats. (8)
In fact, the amount of fiber in buckwheat is approximately 3 times higher of the fiber content in quinoa:
Buckwheat 68% fiber vs. Quinoa 21% fiber.
That 68 % represents the amount of recommended daily fiber intake based on a 2,000-calorie a day diet protocol.
→ TAKEAWAY: Buckwheat is easy on digestion, helps with your body metabolism and elimination. Therefore, be sure to include buckwheat in your diet as high-fiber food.
6. Buckwheat Health Fact: Is There Gluten?
Are you gluten intolerant?
You will be happy to know that since buckwheat is not a real grain, it doesn’t have gluten. So, people with gluten-related problems can safely include buckwheat in their diet. Among those conditions are celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or some other issues.
Furthermore, some study showed that if regular corn or wheat flour is enriched by buckwheat flour, then that type of bread is the most beneficial for celiac sufferers. (9)
However, you should pay attention to any “buckwheat” foods when they also contain classic grains, for example, wheat flour in soba noodles.
The same concern might be about the buckwheat pancake mix.
It is important to remember that even though some buckwheat products have labeled “gluten-free,” it is not particularly true when you glanced at the label. I’ve seen it quite often, and because of this, I make my buckwheat from scratch.
So, to enjoy all buckwheat health benefits as a gluten-free grain, be sure that there are no additional ingredients containing gluten.
Therefore, be curious, pay attention, and ask questions.
Also, always read labels!
Another critical point to remember is that even though buckwheat is a gluten-free grain, still, it might contain traces of gluten.
Gluten contamination is found frequently in foods labeled as “gluten-free.” Furthermore, it should raise the alert concerning certified gluten-free products. (10)
It is unfortunate to say that buckwheat was one of the products with the highest gluten contamination, along with oats and lentils-based items.
On a positive side, certified gluten-free products even though more expensive, show a lesser trace of gluten.
→ TAKEAWAY: Consider buckwheat as a part of your healthy diet, especially if you are gluten-intolerant because it is gluten-free. However, proceed with caution!
7. Buckwheat Health Fact: Glycemic Index
What is the Glycemic Index?
It is a type of ranking of carbs on a scale from 0 to 100 based on how they increase the blood sugar level (the glucose) after a meal. (11)
Review the Glycemic Index (GI) data for different buckwheat foods.
As can be seen, boiled buckwheat groats (hulled) show the lowest result on the table of 45 compared, for example, with buckwheat pancakes of 102!
Overall, if food’s GI is 55 and lower, then it’s considered to have LOW GLYCEMIC INDEX. (12)
Isn’t it good to know?
Of course, occasionally I will have my blueberry buckwheat pancakes, but only sometimes. No wonder that in my family we had buckwheat primarily as boiled groats.
Equally important to know how buckwheat measures up to its classic counterparts for GI. So, let’s compare.
Opposite to the classic grains–wheat, rice, corn–buckwheat has a lower glycemic index and therefore doesn’t kick a sugar spike in blood. For example, see below GI for various grains:
- Buckwheat (hulled, boiled 12 min) 45
- Rice (Medium Grain White) 75
- Barley (boiled 60 min) 35
- Sweet Corn (cooked) 60
→ TAKEAWAY: Buckwheat and barley are the winning grain options considering their Glycemic index for a specific type of food preparation. Boiled buckwheat groats are the most beneficial among other buckwheat-based meals.
8. How To Eat Buckwheat: Kasha, Grain-Like Flower, and Soba
You can use buckwheat in many ways – it is so versatile!
To get all buckwheat groats health benefits, I love cooking roasted groats for the main course with raw or lightly cooked veggies. Mainly I enjoy mixing groats at the end of cooking with sauteed mushrooms and onions.
As it turned out, a lot of people love to boost buckwheat flavor and texture by adding tons of browned onions and a little of parsley or dill. It’s refreshing to point out that dill is also a staple in cooking for Europeans.
Sometimes ladies at the register in a grocery store in America give me a puzzled look when I hand them dill. And I always ask smiling, “You don’t know what the dill is?”
Before you serve, set aside a cup of buckwheat groats, and you will have a fantastic cereal for breakfast. It is different, exciting and, as you know by now, nutritious.
Ground buckwheat groats and you have buckwheat flour for healthy pancakes, muffins, and delicious “soba” noodles.
How about buckwheat porridge with coconut or almond milk and fresh fruits?
You will love buckwheat versatility, nutty flavor, nutritional value, and essential amino acid content.
It’s full of dietary fiber, amino acids’, and critical vitamins and minerals. Today it is the most widely spread alternative crop and loved by millions.
→ TAKEAWAY: Buckwheat groats are the most nutritious as boiled, especially with leafy greens or vegetables. Also, enjoy buckwheat as cereal, pancakes, porridge, noodles, bread or blintzes. Be creative!
Conclusion: Alternative Grain Superfood
Hopefully, you are starting to see how buckwheat can enrich your diet and improve your health.
For this reason, let’s do a quick review.
- Buckwheat is not a grain in a classical sense and therefore is gluten-free.
- Opposite to its regular counterparts, buckwheat groats have a lower Glycemic index, mainly when boiled.
- This ancient grain alternative has a high amount of dietary fiber compared with its pseudo relatives.
Because of the above and impressive nutrition value, buckwheat offers superior health benefits for your heart health, regulation of blood sugar, proper digestion, balancing beneficial gut flora, and managing weight. The list is endless.
You will enjoy buckwheat savory dishes at breakfast, as an excellent addition to soups, salads, and main courses, as well as snack and even desert.
Well, now you know about buckwheat groats health benefits and nutrition value. I strongly recommend giving this fantastic ancient crop a try.
I invite you to enlighten us with your thoughts. Leave them below.
Founder of Detox Generation
Disclosure: The views and opinions expressed on this site are solely those of the author. All content, including text, images, and other formats, is for information purposes only. The author is not a medical professional, dietitian or integrative treatment specialist. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health specialists with any questions you may have.