Buckwheat is a popular grain and one that forms a key ingredient in a wide variety of dishes such as pancakes, muffins, bread, and more. It’s also used to make noodles, oatmeal, and even beer!
This is a grain with several health benefits and advantages, but it is also important to be aware of the potential side effects – and this is where we can help.
Read on to find out what are the side effects of buckwheat, and some great alternatives to keep you
healthy and happy.
What Is Buckwheat?
Buckwheat is a type of plant known as Fagopyrum esculentum. It has been cultivated for thousands of years and was originally grown across Asia, with key regions including China, Japan, and Korea.
Today, it is widely grown throughout Europe and North America, and it is a popular ingredient in many dishes.
It is an annual herbaceous plant that grows up to 1 meter tall. Its leaves grow from the base of the stem, and they are covered in tiny hairs. They have a distinctive shape, with three lobes at the end of each leaf.
The flowers appear in clusters, and they are white or pinkish-white in color. The seeds are small, and they contain a large amount of protein.
The Benefits Of Buckwheat
There are many reasons why people choose to eat buckwheat, and some of the main benefits offered by the plant include:
High In Fiber
A key benefit of buckwheat is the high fiber content. A serving of 100 grams contains around 8g of dietary fiber, which is higher than most other grains.
This means that eating buckwheat will help lower cholesterol levels, and reduce your risk of heart disease.
Good For Diabetics
Diabetes is a condition in which the body does not produce enough insulin, or cannot use insulin properly.
If you suffer from diabetes, then eating buckwheat could be beneficial because it helps regulate blood sugar levels.
Great Source Of Iron
Another major benefit of buckwheat comes from its iron content. One cup of cooked buckwheat contains about 3 mg of iron, which is almost double the recommended daily intake.
This makes it a good source of iron if you’re looking to boost your iron stores.
Low Glycemic Index
This is another reason why people like to eat buckwheat. Eating foods with a low glycemic index (GI) will help control blood sugar levels, and prevent spikes in blood glucose levels after meals.
Many studies have shown that buckwheat has anti-inflammatory properties, so it may be able to help treat conditions such as arthritis, gout, and rheumatoid arthritis.
One study found that consuming buckwheat helped improve blood flow through the arteries, and reduced the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Eating buckwheat regularly can help improve digestion because it contains compounds called phytates, which bind to minerals such as calcium and magnesium.
This prevents them from being absorbed into the bloodstream and instead allows them to stay in the digestive tract.
Aids In Weight Management
If you want to lose weight, then eating buckwheat might be helpful. Studies show that buckwheat can increase satiety, and slow down the rate at which food is digested.
This means that you’ll feel fuller for longer, and you won’t need to snack between meals.
What Are The Side Effects of Buckwheat?
Though there are undoubtedly several advantages to buckwheat, it is also important to be aware of some of the potential side effects, and we have explored these below:
If you are allergic to buckwheat, then you should avoid eating it. However, if you do accidentally consume it, then you might experience symptoms such as hives, itching, swelling, and difficulty breathing.
In addition, people who have allergies to wheat, rye, barley, or oats should avoid eating buckwheat.
Those who are sensitive to nuts should also steer clear of buckwheat, as it contains traces of walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, and pistachios.
People who are prone to kidney problems should exercise caution when eating buckwheat, and this is because it contains oxalic acid, which can cause calcium stones to form in the kidneys.
This can exacerbate any existing damage, and increase the risk of long-term damage in those already experiencing kidney problems.
Buckwheat contains compounds called flavonoids, which are responsible for liver damage. These compounds can increase the production of enzymes in the liver, and this can lead to inflammation and scarring.
In some cases, buckwheat can also cause bloating, and this is because it contains large amounts of insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is unable to pass into the colon and instead remains in the digestive tract, where it causes gas to build up.
Some people find that they become constipated after eating buckwheat, but this is once again usually due to the high amount of insoluble fiber present in the grain.
It’s best to avoid eating too much buckwheat if you suffer from constipation and instead opt for other healthy grains.
How To Cook Buckwheat
There are a number of ways to prepare and enjoy buckwheat, and some of the most popular options include:
You can bake your buckwheat by mixing it with flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. You can either use a regular oven or an electric convection oven.
Once baked, you can eat it plain, or add toppings like chocolate chips, raisins, or cinnamon.
You can fry your own buckwheat using oil, and seasoning. If you’re looking for something more substantial, you could try adding meat to the mix, or even making pancakes out of it!
It may seem unusual, but you can grill your own buckwheat on a barbecue, or over a hot fire, or even in your home grill.
You will need to soak the seeds first so that they don’t burn during cooking. You can then sprinkle them with salt, pepper, garlic, onion, or herbs before grilling.
Best Alternatives To Buckwheat
If you find that eating buckwheat leaves you feeling bloated, uncomfortable, or unwell, there are a host of tasty alternatives to try, and these include:
This gluten-free grain has been used for thousands of years, and it’s packed full of protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Quinoa is often referred to as a superfood, and it’s one of the healthiest foods available today.
This nutritious cereal is rich in iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and copper, and it’s also low in calories. Millet is easy to digest, and it’s perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks.
These delicious wholemeal oats contain plenty of nutrients, including vitamin B6, manganese, potassium, and dietary fiber.
They’re also great for weight loss, and they help keep blood glucose levels steady throughout the day.
If you want to switch things up a bit, you could try swapping buckwheat for rice. Rice is a staple food around the world, and it’s very versatile.
You can serve it as a side dish, or you can use it to make risotto, pilafs, or sushi rolls.
This gluten-free alternative to wheat is packed full of nutrients, including calcium, iron, and zinc. Sorghum is also a good source of energy, and it helps lower cholesterol levels.
While buckwheat isn’t necessarily bad for you, it does have its downsides. This includes bloating, gas, and diarrhea, which can be caused by consuming too many buckwheat products at once.
Fortunately, there are a variety of alternatives that pack a nutritional punch, and which won’t leave you feeling bloated, uncomfortable, or unwell.