Buckwheat ( Fagopyrum esculentum),
Buckwheat” is a recommended healthy food for various health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity, and celiac disease. Despite its name, buckwheat is not a grain but rather a pseudo-cereal plant belonging to the Polygonaceae family. It is also known as “Greçka” and its scientific name is “Fagopyrum esculentum.” The edible part of buckwheat consists of triangular seeds, and it has a mildly aromatic, not very dominant taste similar to bulgur.
China is the world’s largest producer of buckwheat, accounting for approximately half of the total production. It is followed by Russia and Ukraine. Poland, Japan, America, Canada, and France are also countries where buckwheat is commercially grown. Buckwheat has a long history and originates from Central Asia. It was initially cultivated in China and Japan and later spread to Russia and Europe, eventually reaching America in the early 17th century. Over time, it spread to both Eastern and Western regions and adapted to cold climates and harsh conditions, making it widespread across a wide geographic range. Buckwheat’s reputation as a healthy food and its ability to be grown in less fertile soils played a significant role in its preference over other fallow crops. Its fast growth and development, cold climate adaptability, and resilience to challenging conditions contributed to its widespread cultivation.
Nutritional Value of Buckwheat:
Buckwheat has a very high nutritional value. One cup of cooked buckwheat (168 grams) contains 155 calories. It provides 34% of manganese, 28% of copper, 21% of magnesium, 18% of dietary fiber, and 17% of phosphorus. It contains antioxidants (flavonoids), vitamins B1, B2, P, and E, and a high amount of dietary fiber. It also contains 13-15% of the best quality easily digestible
plant protein. It contains all nine essential amino acids, which must be obtained from external sources as the body cannot produce them. In addition to essential amino acids, buckwheat efficiently meets the body’s energy needs without burning protein because of its slow-digesting complex carbohydrates. Buckwheat has a carbohydrate ratio of 75%. For vegetarians and vegans, buckwheat is an important source of plant-based protein.
Benefits of Buckwheat:
- Suitable for Celiac Patients: Buckwheat is gluten-free, making it a suitable alternative for those with celiac disease who are allergic to gluten found in grains like wheat, rye, oats and barley.Aids in Weight Loss:
- Buckwheat is low in calories and rich in nutrients, making it suitable for high-nutrient, low-calorie diets. It helps reduce hunger and promotes a sense of fullness.
- Lowers Cholesterol: Daily consumption of 100 grams of buckwheat has been shown to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase
- good cholesterol (HDL). Lowers High Blood Pressure, Beneficial for Anemia and Heart Conditions: Buckwheat is rich in potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron. These minerals are effective against high blood pressure, anemia, and heart problems.
- Controls Blood Sugar and Reduces the Risk of Diabetes: Buckwheat is a rich source of magnesium, which has been shown to help stabilize blood sugar levels.Protects Against Hormone
- Related Cancers and Heart Diseases: Buckwheat’s plant lignan content reduces the risk of hormone-related cancers.
- Liver-Friendly: Choline, found in buckwheat, reduces liver fat and promotes liver function.
How to Cook Buckwheat (Greçka): While buckwheat may be unfamiliar in your kitchen, you can easily incorporate it into your diet, much like bulgur. You can prepare dishes similar to those made with bulgur, such as pilaf, lentil kofte, yogurt soups, or stuffed vegetables, using buckwheat. After boiling and draining, you can make tabbouleh or salads, or sauté boiled buckwheat in a little oil, similar to cooking pasta. You can also wash it, soak it in hot water overnight, and then use it for breakfast with milk, similar to cornflakes. By including this healthy food in your diet, you can prepare delicious meals for your table.