Writes by Evi Antonopoulou
Many have certainly heard of buckwheat and its health benefits but most certainly wonder what it is. Buckwheat has been reintroduced into our diet and is of increasing interest to health food lovers.
What is buckwheat?
Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) is an annual dicotyledonous plant and belongs to the Pseudo-cereal family. Other names are polygon, black bean and triangular seed. In Russian and Ukrainian it is called Grechka, which means Greek because of its introduction at 7ο century by Greek Byzantines. The cultivation of buckwheat decreased sharply in the 20th century, due to the consolidation of other crops, but recently there has been an increase in its consumption as new studies bring to the surface evidence of its beneficial benefits to the body (Campbell, 1997).
This, of course, was not unknown to the ancients, as they were well aware of the nutritional benefits of this cereal. Buckwheat was a key ingredient of ancient Greek gastronomy and always occupied a place at our ancestors' daily table.
Nutritional value of buckwheat
Buckwheat contains a variety of nutrients with the most important: proteins, polysaccharides, dietary fiber, lipids, rutin, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals (Kimetal, 2004). In addition, buckwheat does not contain gluten, making it safe for people with gluten intolerance and celiac disease. It is also an ideal food for those who workout and want to increase their body's energy levels as well as their protein intake.
Proteins: Buckwheat is a rich source of vegetable protein which ranges between 12% to 18,9%! Buckwheat flour has a protein content of 8,5% -19% (Fornal 1999). Therefore it is an excellent source of protein for vegetarians, vegans but also for those who want to eat healthy and nutritious!
The main fractions of the protein seed are albumin (30-33%) (water soluble) and globulin (water insoluble and soluble in salts) and together make up about 50% of the protein in the fruit.. Another group of proteins found in seed is prolamins. In contrast to the prolamins of wheat, barley and rye, the prolamins of buckwheat have different characteristics, which makes the consumption of buckwheat safe by people suffering from gastrointestinal diseases such as gluten intolerance and celiac disease (Kreftetal, 1996).
Buckwheat seeds are also a good source of high biological value proteins with high content of essential amino acids, thus making it an ideal food for people who can not tolerate gluten or who are deficient in protein in their meals (Christa & Soral-Smietana, 2008).
Buckwheat has a high content of arginine and lysine amino acids, contributing to the good functioning of the heart and strengthening the immune system. In addition, studies show that the consumption of buckwheat proteins is associated with a decrease in blood cholesterol and significantly contributes to its metabolism (Tomotakeetal. 2002).
A large number of experiments have concluded that buckwheat proteins may in future be used as an additive in functional foods for the treatment of hypertension, obesity and constipation (Katoetal. 2001; Tomotakeetal. 2002).
Vitamins and MineralsBuckwheat is rich in potassium (K), magnesium (Mg), calcium (Ca), sodium (Na). It is also an important source of trace elements such as iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), and zinc (Zn) (Weietal. 1995).
Buckwheat seeds are a good source of B-complex vitamins, essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system, including B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folic acid). B-complex vitamins are found mainly in the outer part of the cortex. Buckwheat is also a good source of fat-soluble vitamins E and K (Christa & Soral-Smietana, 2008).
Polysaccharides and Dietary fiberBuckwheat seed consists of complex carbohydrates with the most important representative being starch in a content of 63-66% of the dry matter. Complex carbohydrates, which are made up of large chains of sugar molecules, are broken down in the body at a much slower rate. This means that they do not raise blood sugar levels abruptly and help to better control hunger, which is why their consumption is recommended to control and prevent diabetes.
Buckwheat is also rich in dietary or otherwise fiber. Dietary fibers are a class of complex carbohydrates that are not digested by the body but instead fermented partially or completely by the small intestinal microflora (AACC Report 2001).
The main fiber found in buckwheat is cellulose, hemicutarin, pectin, gums, lignin, resistant starch, etc. The presence of fiber in our diet helps to better control our appetite, causing premature feeling of long-term satiety and results in better control of our weight and reduced risk of obesity.
They also lower blood cholesterol levels, stabilize blood sugar levels and help prevent and control diabetes. They also increase intestinal motility and contribute to the health of the intestinal microflora (Christa & Soral-Smietana, 2008).
Flavonoids and phenolic compounds: Buckwheat is an excellent source of ingredients with therapeutic properties such as flavonoids, phenolic compounds, phytosterols and phagopyrin.
It is now widely accepted that the antioxidant properties and biological functions (anti-mutagenic, anti-cancer and anti-aging function) of these components contribute to the body's shielding and proper functioning.
Many flavonoids have been identified in buckwheat seeds (rutin, quercetin, orientin, vitexin, isovitexin and isorientine) with routine occurring at the highest concentrations (Kreftetal, 1999) (Dietrych-Szekstak &).
In fact, studies have shown that the content of some buckwheat flour in the antioxidant routine exceeds even the content of cereals, red wine and tea in flavonoids (Christa & Soral-Smietana, 2008).
Lipids: The lipid content of buckwheat is about 1,5-4%.
How can I consume it?
This delicious and nutritious cereal can be consumed in many ways. It is very easy and quick to cook. It is mainly used as a substitute for rice.
Place a cup of buckwheat in a saucepan and boil it with 2 cups of salted water on low heat until it absorbs all the water and becomes fluffy (about 15 minutes). Stir occasionally with a ladle.
Some recipe ideas: It can be served as a garnish in many dishes (instead of rice ie), stuffed peppers with buckwheat, spinach, buckwheat with vegetables, buckwheat in soups, chickpeas with buckwheat, buckwheat with buckwheat and honey.
Buckwheat cultivation at Antonopoulos Farm
Article writing & editing
MSc Clinical Dietetics-Nutrition
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