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Buckwheat

Buckwheat is gluten-free, and in studies with diabetic rats, it has been shown to be effective in decreasing elevated blood sugar levels.

Buckwheat is a pseudograin and is therefore classified as a pseudocereal. These are grain-like seeds that are not in the family of sweet grains and are therefore not true grains (Poaceae). Buckwheat is generally rich in starch, protein, minerals, and fat, but lacks gluten and is therefore often mixed with a gluten-containing flour for baking. All of the pseudograins are gluten-free.

The most well-known pseudograins:

Common pseudograins include amaranth, buckwheat, chia, qañiwa, and quinoa. Along with pseudograins, the gluten-free version of Erb Muesli also includes sesame seeds, hulled millet (the husk is removed because it contains hydrocyanic acid), and flaxseed.

General information:

From Wikipedia: “Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) is a plant cultivated for its grain-like seeds, and also used as a cover crop. To distinguish it from a related species, Fagopyrum tataricum that is also cultivated as a grain in the Himalayas, primarily in Nepal, Bhutan and India, and from the less commonly cultivated Fagopyrum acutatum, it is also known as Japanese buckwheat and silverhull buckwheat.

Despite the name, buckwheat is not related to wheat, as it is not a grass. Instead, buckwheat is related to sorrel, knotweed, and rhubarb. Because its seeds are eaten and rich in complex carbohydrates, it is referred to as a pseudocereal. The cultivation of buckwheat grain declined sharply in the 20th century with the adoption of nitrogen fertilizer that increased the productivity of other staples.

Use:

“Hulled buckwheat is processed to make buckwheat groats, buckwheat cereal, and buckwheat flour. These are most commonly used to make cereals, but buckwheat soups, flatbreads, and noodles are also popular.  ... Since buckwheat groats naturally swell, they make you feel full quickly, as does millet, Buckwheat pancakes served with maple syrup are a favorite specialty in the United States and Canada. Galettes, the traditional crepes from Brittany, are also made with buckwheat, making them a heartier version of the more common white-flour crepes. Buckwheat noodles (soba) and buckwheat tea (Sobacha) play a major role in Japanese cuisine.*

Nutritional value:

“In a 100 gram serving providing 343 calories dry and 92 calories cooked, buckwheat is a rich source (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of protein, dietary fiber, four B vitamins and several dietary minerals, with content especially high (47 to 65% DV in niacin, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus. Buckwheat is 72% carbohydrates, including 10% dietary fiber, 3% fat and 13% protein.

Rare, but possible allergen:

“The red buckwheat hulls can cause allergies if consumed (fagopyrism), which with the combination of sunlight can result in skin rashes. This is why it is important to know about the risks of eating unhulled buckwheat. It is best to wash unhulled buckwheat with hot water or cook it before eating.*” The skin may become more sensitive to sunlight (fagopyrism). However, with hulled buckwheat this is no longer an issue.

Interesting facts:

“Buckwheat hulls are used as filling for a variety of upholstered goods, including pillows and zafu. The hulls are durable and do not conduct or reflect heat as much as synthetic fills. They are sometimes marketed as an alternative natural fill to feathers for those with allergies. However, medical studies to measure the health effects of buckwheat hull pillows manufactured with unprocessed and uncleaned hulls, concluded such buckwheat pillows do contain higher levels of a potential allergen that may trigger asthma in susceptible individuals than do new synthetic-filled pillows.”

Note (italics): * = Translation from a German Wikipedia entry.