Buckwheat: Nutrition Facts, Health Benefits, And Side Effects

Reviewed by Merlin Annie Raj, Registered Dietitian
by Swathi Handoo

Buckwheat is a pseudocereal (a seed with similar properties as cereals) with an excellent nutritional profile. Hundred grams of the cereal contains 13 grams of protein, 10 grams of fiber, 18 milligrams of calcium, and 231 milligrams of magnesium.

These nutrients, along with many others, offer important health benefits. Buckwheat nutrients can help in the treatment of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Though buckwheat may also be consumed in the form of tea, honey, or flour, adding them as they are to your food could work best. You can use this gluten-free food to make cookies, crepes, pancakes, risotto, noodles, meals, and salads.

Buckwheat Nutrition Facts*

Buckwheat is energy-dense and is high in various vitamins and minerals. A cup of buckwheat (170 grams) contains 583 calories and 122 grams of carbohydrates. It also contains the following nutrients*:

  • 23 grams of protein
  • 15 grams of fiber
  • 30 milligrams of calcium
  • 4 milligrams of iron
  • 393 milligrams of magnesium
  • 590 milligrams of phosphorus
  • 782 milligrams of potassium
  • 51 micrograms of folate

*Values sourced from USDA, Buckwheat

Buckwheat contains all the amino acids and can be considered a complete protein.

This pseudocereal is also loaded with phytochemicals.

Studies reveal that the whole buckwheat contains 2-5 times more phenolic compounds than oats or barley (1).

Moreover, buckwheat bran and hulls have 2-7 times higher antioxidant activity than barley, oats, and triticale (1).

Buckwheat contains more rutin when compared to other grain crops. Quercetin, orientin, kaempferol-3-rutinoside, vitexin, isovitexin, and isoorientin have been identified in buckwheat hulls as well (1).

Buckwheat seeds also contain fagopyrins and fagopyritols. Fagopyrins are photo-sensitive substances present in very low quantities in buckwheat. Fagopyritols are carbohydrate compounds accumulated in the embryos of these seeds (1).

Here’s the interesting part.

Most cereals and pseudocereals contain a considerable amount of anti-nutrients. Anti-nutrients interact with nutrients to prevent their proper absorption and trigger undesirable effects in your body.

But buckwheat has no trace of phytic acid, a common anti-nutrient. Hence, you can have these seeds without worrying about a cross-reaction or a loss of nutrients.

Adding buckwheat to your daily meal can offer certain health benefits. In the following section, we will look at these benefits and what research tells us about them.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Buckwheat?

The phytonutrients in buckwheat help in the treatment of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Regular consumption of these groats may also relieve constipation.

1. May Improve Insulin Sensitivity And Manage Diabetes

Animal studies show that buckwheat can lower blood glucose levels.

Buckwheat contains rutin, quercetin, d-chiro-inositol, and other similar biochemicals that may have a positive impact on the glucose levels in your body. In mice studies, ethanol extracts of buckwheat were found to treat insulin resistance (2).

In rat studies, buckwheat concentrate could lower serum glucose levels. Therefore, buckwheat may be useful in diabetes treatment (3).

Tartary buckwheat (Fagopyrum tataricum) has the highest quercetin and rutin content among all the buckwheat species. As per mice studies, its alcohol extract can increase the levels of antioxidant enzymes in the liver (2).

Including buckwheat in your diet could be a safe way of regulating diabetes and insulin sensitivity.

2. May Mitigate Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) Risk

Buckwheat may lower cholesterol levels, which may otherwise lead to cardiovascular disease.

The rutin in buckwheat is a well-studied cardioprotective flavonoid. Along with quercetin, protein, and fiber, this flavonoid lowers the risk of heart diseases. Despite having low digestibility, buckwheat may lower risk factors for cardiovascular disease (4).

Buckwheat may help lower blood glucose levels and levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides. Higher levels of these can elevate CVD risk (4).

However, whether the intake of buckwheat can have a similar impact on other CVD risk factors like body weight and LDL cholesterol is unclear (4).

Buckwheat flavonoids can interfere in various pathways that may lead to cardiac discomfort. In rat studies, buckwheat rutin was found to inhibit the abnormal enlargement of the heart muscle (a condition called cardiomyocyte hypertrophy) (5).

3. May Possess Anticancer Properties

The protein and amino acids in buckwheat may aid cancer prevention.

Buckwheat protein is rich in amino acids like lysine and arginine. In a study conducted in China, buckwheat proteins – in combination with polyphenols – induced cell death (apoptosis) in several mouse cell lines. They could counter the proliferation of cancer cells in the colons of rats (6).

A novel protein, TBWSP31, isolated from tartary buckwheat extracts, might exhibit antiproliferative properties against human breast cancer cell lines. The cells showed physical changes that are the typical characteristics of dying cancer cells (6).

Buckwheat hull was also reported to have anticancer effects in mice studies. Extracts of buckwheat hull showed relatively high cancer cell growth-inhibition rates. It is suggested that the buckwheat hull may possess anticancer activity against a variety of cancer cell lines (7).

4. May Relieve Constipation And IBD

Buckwheat proteins also exhibit laxative effects. In rat studies, buckwheat protein extract was found to be a useful agent for the treatment of undesirable constipation (8).

Buckwheat is a potent anti-inflammatory agent. Having it fermented or unfermented may tone down intestinal inflammation. However, we need more human trials and animal studies to further determine these effects (9).

Some anecdotal evidence suggests that buckwheat may cause gas in some individuals. If you experience any symptoms, discontinue use and consult your doctor.

5. May Help Treat Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Buckwheat may offer some relief to those with PCOS.

Buckwheat contains a compound called D-chiro-inositol, which is an insulin mediator. D-chiro-inositol is found to be deficient in people with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) (1).

Researchers are trying to develop natural and synthetic variants of D-chiro-inositol to help manage PCOS. However, supplying this carbohydrate through diet showed positive effects as well. Buckwheat seed bran becomes the ideal choice in such cases (1).

The fragments of the outer leaves adhere to the bran during milling. Therefore, the bran fraction from buckwheat seed can be used to isolate the free D-chiro-inositol. It can be used for the large-scale production of nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals to cater to the people with such a deficit (1).

In the following section, we have added a couple of quick recipes that can help you include buckwheat in your diet.

How And What To Cook With Buckwheat

You can substitute rice with this basic buckwheat groat preparation. It has more protein and a higher content of lysine and arginine, two essential amino acids.

1. Simple Buckwheat Meal

What You Need
  • Buckwheat groats: 1 cup, toasted (If you don’t find pre-toasted groats, you can toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes or until they turn golden-brown.)
  • Drinking water: 1¾ cups
  • Unsalted butter: 1-2 tablespoons (or to taste)
  • Sea salt: ½ teaspoon (or to taste)
  • Saucepan: medium-small size
Let’s Make It!
  1. Rinse the buckwheat and drain out the water thoroughly.
  2. Add buckwheat groats, water, butter, and salt to a medium-sized saucepan.
  3. Bring the contents to a simmer.
  4. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and reduce the heat.
  5. Cook on low heat for 18-20 minutes.
  6. Stir in an additional tablespoon of butter if needed.
  7. Eat it with stew, stir-fried veggies, or your favorite curry!

You can also make something more flavorful with this pseudocereal. In fact, there are many gluten-free dishes that can be made with buckwheat. Here’s a quick and simple recipe. Try it out!

2. Gluten-free Quick Crepes With Buckwheat

What You Need
  • Buckwheat groats: ⅔ cups, raw
  • Water: to cover
  • Eggs: 1
  • Brown sugar: 2 tablespoons
  • Cinnamon: 1/4 teaspoon, ground
  • Salt: 1/4 teaspoon
  • Colander: small-medium sized
  • Skillet
  • Cooking oil
Let’s Make It!
  1. Add the buckwheat groats and about 1½ cups of water to a medium-sized colander.
  2. Soak for about 4 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse the groats 1-2 times during this period.
  3. After soaking, rinse and drain the groats one final time.
  4. Transfer the drained groats to a blender.
  5. Add the egg, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and half a cup of water to the blender.
  6. Blend into a smooth batter. Add water to get the desired consistency. Blend until you get a smooth, runny, and spreadable batter.
  7. Lightly grease a skillet and place over medium heat.
  8. Pour about ⅓ cup of batter into the skillet. Lift and tilt the skillet to coat the batter evenly. Return to heat.
  9. Cook for about 2 minutes.
  10. Flip the crepe gently and cook the other side until the crepe is firm in the middle. (Cook longer for a crispy crepe).
  11. Serve hot/warm with dips and berries of your choice.

Buckwheat oats taste very similar to the classic flour-based crepes you make.

People with celiac disease and gluten intolerance don’t need to miss out on some delicious crepes, thanks to buckwheat! You can also eat buckwheat raw; ensure you soak them well and rinse and strain before doing so. This will help in their digestion.

However, you need to keep a watch on the amount of buckwheat you can eat in a day.

How Much Buckwheat Is Safe To Eat?

According to the FDA, in a 2,000 calorie-diet, the daily intake of fiber should be about 25 g (10). Half a cup of buckwheat (85 grams) contains about 8 grams of fiber (11). You may have the same on a regular basis. Since you also get fiber from other sources, this should not be a problem.

Your goal should be to get 100% of the daily value for dietary fiber on most days.

If you are showing symptoms of buckwheat allergy, or you don’t like how these seeds taste, you can choose other gluten-free grains to meet the fiber requirement.

Brown/black/red rice, oatmeal, quinoa, rolled oats, rye, and barley are some options that you can consider.

Not all may be able to consume buckwheat. It may cause adverse effects on certain people.

Side Effects Of Eating Buckwheat

Though it is gluten- and phytic acid-free, buckwheat seeds may have other anti-nutrients that trigger hypersensitivity.

One of the most reported and studied side effects is buckwheat allergy. Its symptoms include (12):

  • Asthma
  • Allergic rhinitis (sneezing, wheezing, runny nose)
  • Gastrointestinal disturbance (nausea, cramps, etc.)
  • Hives or skin rashes
  • Swelling (face and skin)

If left untreated, it can turn fatal.

This happens because buckwheat contains several allergens. These digestion-resistant proteins elicit an allergic reaction in your body. These allergens can cross-react with other plant allergens that are most commonly found in rice, poppy seeds, latex, cashew, and sesame (1), (12).

Hence, beware of what you eat buckwheat with. Eating these foods together might trigger the adverse effects listed above.

Research is still underway in this aspect. The exact allergen(s) structure and function of buckwheat have not been established yet.

Additionally, buckwheat proteins have low digestibility. This could be because the polyphenols in buckwheat interact with these proteins and make it harder for your colon to digest them (13).

Having probiotics may solve this problem.

In Summary

Buckwheat is a highly nutritious, gluten-free crop. Its seeds are rich in carbohydrates, proteins, fiber, and phytochemicals. Its phytonutritional profile makes buckwheat an important food in one’s diet.

You can make a gluten-free variant of almost every dish with buckwheat groats and flour.

But as it contains recognized allergens, you should use buckwheat only after seeking medical advice. Discuss its safety and dosage with your healthcare provider.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is buckwheat keto-friendly?

No. Buckwheat is relatively high in carbs. 100 grams of buckwheat contains over 70 grams of carbs (11). Hence, it cannot be included in a keto diet.

Is buckwheat paleo-friendly?

Buckwheat is a grain, and since the paleo-diet does not contain grains, it is not paleo-friendly.

Is buckwheat good for muscle building?

Though there is no specific research regarding this, adding buckwheat to your meal can promote overall health and muscle growth (as it is nutritionally rich).

Does buckwheat make you sleepy?

Some sources suggest that buckwheat may trigger the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. However, there are no reliable sources available.

How long does buckwheat take to cook?

A simple buckwheat meal takes about 20 minutes to cook.

13 sources

Stylecraze has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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Swathi Handoo

Swathi holds a Master’s degree in Biotechnology and has worked in places where actual science and research happen. Blending her love for writing with science, Swathi writes for Health and Wellness and simplifies complex topics for readers from all walks of life.And on the days she doesn’t write, she learns and performs Kathak, sings Carnatic music compositions, makes plans to travel, and obsesses over cleanliness.
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