Buckwheat groats are the hearty hulled seed of the buckwheat plant. However, don't let its name fool you - buckwheat isn't actually related to wheat at all. Buckwheat is a nutritional powerhouse that's a central component of Eastern European cuisine. It's not as popular as oats or quinoa and is often under-appreciated, but this 100% gluten-free ingredient is inexpensive and easy to prepare.
In this article, I'll introduce you to all you need to know about this super-nutritious seed and how you can incorporate buckwheat into a multitude of recipes.
- Benefits of buckwheat
- Forms of buckwheat
- What is the difference between white and brown buckwheat groats?
- Where to source buckwheat groats
- Raw v roasted buckwheat groats
- How to prepare
- Ingredients for cooking buckwheat groats
- How to cook buckwheat?
- How to avoid mushy buckwheat?
- Buckwheat groats recipes
- How to grow buckwheat
- More plant-based ingredients to cook with
Buckwheat is native to Northern Europe and Asia. From the 10th through the 13th century, it was widely cultivated in China. From there, it spread to Europe and Russia in the 14th and 15th centuries. It was introduced in the USA by the Dutch during the 17th century.
Buckwheat is widely produced in Russia and Poland, where it plays an important role in their traditional cuisines.
Buckwheat is a highly nutritious ingredient that many people consider to be a superfood. Among its health benefits, buckwheat may improve heart health, promote weight loss, and help manage diabetes. Buckwheat is a good source of protein, fiber, and energy.
Buckwheat can play a valuable role in controlling blood sugar levels. It contains a low Glycemic Index load.
Buckwheat contains a variety of antioxidants. These are ideal for fighting oxidative stress and may even help to reduce the risk of developing some types of cancer.
Buckwheat is an excellent source of minerals such as:
Nutrients per serving
A 160g / one-cup serving of cooked buckwheat groats contains approximately:
- Calories: 150 grams
- Protein: 5.6 grams
- Fat: 1 gram
- Carbohydrates: 33.5 grams
- 4.5 g of fiber
- 148 milligrams (mg) of potassium
- 118 mg of phosphorous
- 86 mg of magnesium
- 12 mg of calcium
- 1.34 mg of iron
Benefits of buckwheat
Buckwheat is rich in the flavonoids rutin and quercetin. Rutin strengthens the blood vessels while quercetin helps to reduce inflammation. Other notable health benefits of buckwheat include:
- Buckwheat is rich in iron and antioxidants.
- It keeps you full longer.
- It’s gluten-free and great for supporting natural weight loss.
- It’s inexpensive and simple to prepare.
A good Food option for coeliacs'
While the name "buckwheat" might make people with gluten intolerance shy away, the ingredient is not actually wheat or even a grain. It's actually a seed! This makes buckwheat a wonderful option for people with coeliac disease or anyone who is committed to a gluten-free diet.
Far more than a simple alternative, buckwheat offers more fiber, vitamins, and minerals than rice products that are often used in gluten-free recipes.
Buckwheat is rich in fiber. Fiber allows for regular bowel movements and reduces the potential for experiencing symptoms such as constipation. A diet high in fiber is sure to protect your digestive health.
Manage blood sugar
Buckwheat can play a valuable role in controlling blood sugar levels. The food is rich in nutrients such as proteins, fibers, and flavonoids. These nutrients in buckwheat have reportedly helped people with type 2 diabetes manage the condition by improving insulin resistance.
Prevent cardiovascular disease
Studies indicate that people who regularly eat buckwheat products have lower cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood glucose levels. By helping to manage these risk factors, a diet rich in buckwheat helps to reduce your chances of developing cardiovascular disease.
Forms of buckwheat
Buckwheat comes in various shapes and forms
- Buckwheat groats: roasted and unroasted - Add to salads, risottos, serve as a side dish or as a porridge.
- Buckwheat flour: roasted and unroasted - Add to pancakes, waffles, bread, pastries, or any baked goods.
- Rolled buckwheat flakes: Great for porridge, overnight oat mixes, and bread.
- Buckwheat milk: This is becoming more popular in the supermarket. You can try making your own Buckwheat Milk at home with this recipe.
Buckwheat also comes in various products such as noodles, pasta, snacks, and other baked goods.
What is the difference between white and brown buckwheat groats?
- Brown buckwheat is already roasted, its flavor is more pronounced than unroasted.
- Green (or white) buckwheat has a more delicate taste, and because it's unroasted, is even more nutritious.
Where to source buckwheat groats
Energizing and nutritious, buckwheat is available throughout the year. Buckwheat groats and flour can be sourced in any good health food store or online.
Here is a link to my recommended Buckwheat products on iHerb...
Raw v roasted buckwheat groats
Can buckwheat groats be eaten raw?
Buckwheat groats can be eaten raw, however, as with most grains, they are best soaked, sprouted, or fermented for optimal digestion.
If consumed raw they need to be well soaked, rinsed, and strained before consumption. Otherwise, boil the buckwheat groats before adding them to recipes.
How to prepare
Buckwheat is a versatile, appealing, and nutritional addition to recipes. Here are a few ways to incorporate buckwheat into your diet:
- Replace regular flour with a buckwheat version to add more fiber and other nutrients to your breakfast pancakes and baked goods.
- Make porridge or kasha with buckwheat groats.
- Mix buckwheat groats with coconut yogurt, chia seeds, and fruit to make a tasty breakfast pudding.
- Include rolled buckwheat alongside rolled oats in your favorite granola recipe.
- Use buckwheat flour to create homemade soba noodles or pasta.
Ingredients for cooking buckwheat groats
You will need only 3 ingredients to cook buckwheat.
- Buckwheat groats
How to cook buckwheat?
The more water the groats absorb, the softer they'll be.
- Place 1 cup of buckwheat groats into a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cool running water until the water runs clear. Drain it well.
- In a small saucepan (covered with a lid), bring 2 cups of cold water and ½ teaspoon of sea salt to a boil over high heat.
- Stir the buckwheat into boiled water and cover the saucepan with a lid. Bring back to a gentle simmer and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the water is absorbed: 13-15 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let the buckwheat rest covered for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve. This serving will make about 3 cups of cooked buckwheat.
- Enjoy fresh from the pot, serve as a side dish, or incorporate into a salad
- Refrigerate when cooled.
How to avoid mushy buckwheat?
Try your best to purchase buckwheat from an Eastern European market or here. The texture of the buckwheat from these sources is denser and prevents it from overcooking avoiding the mushy results.
Follow the recipe above for water ratio and cooking time. More water or prolonged cooking time will both lead to mushy buckwheat. However, mushy buckwheat is not all bad and is delicious either way!
Buckwheat groats recipes
- Buckwheat Kasha
- Buckwheat Sourdough
- Buckwheat Granola
- Buckwheat Milk
- Buckwheat Breakfast Pudding
- Buckwheat Soba Noodles
- Buckwheat Tabbouleh
How to grow buckwheat
Buckwheat plants produce seed faster than any other grain crop, making it particularly well suited to regions with short growing seasons.
To grow buckwheat, broadcast a cup of seed over 100 square feet (or 1 pound per 300 to 500 square feet; or 60 to 80 pounds per acre) and rake it in about an inch deep. It will sprout, grow and begin to bloom within six weeks – without any added fertilizer.
Buckwheat is one of the easiest plants to grow and the least fussy about space and timing. You can start additional seeds throughout the warm months in between your other garden plants.
More plant-based ingredients to cook with
Despite the word "wheat" in its name, buckwheat is a naturally gluten-free food. It's a versatile grain that can be steamed and eaten in place of rice, or the whole seeds can be ground into a fine flour. Buckwheat has high levels of fiber and is a great source of protein.
The color of buckwheat flour is generally darker than regular flour. This is primarily caused by the presence of hull fragments. However, even though most buckwheat flour may have small dark speckles, buckwheat flour can also be uniform white to pale tan in color.
Despite its name, buckwheat is not a type of wheat. Officially, it's not even a grain but rather a seed that's harvested from a flowering plant related to rhubarb. But the pyramid-shaped kernels are similar to grains from both a culinary and nutritional perspective.
Contains the compound rutin, an antioxidant polyphenol that reduces inflammation and lowers blood pressure. Eating buckwheat regularly can lower bad cholesterol. According to a 2005 study, the buckwheat trypsin enzyme has antimicrobial, and antibacterial effects and could protect against diabetes, hypertension, and tumors!
Buckwheat contains more fiber, potassium, vitamins, and less saturated fat than oats. When deciding what type of grain you should choose, it is important to remember that buckwheat has more fiber, potassium, and vitamin B2 and B3 and less saturated fat than oats
Current Genomics: "The Contribution of Buckwheat Genetic Resources to Health and Dietary Diversity."
ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon.
Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences: "Consumption of Buckwheat Products and Cardiovascular Risk Profile: A Randomized, Single-Blinded Crossover Trial."
Mayo Clinic: "Celiac disease diet: How do I get enough grains?"
Nutrition Research: "Dietary buckwheat intake attenuates insulin resistance and improves lipid profiles in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomized controlled trial."
U.S. Department of Agriculture FoodData Central: "Buckwheat."
World's Healthiest Foods: "Buckwheat."