Buckwheat has always been in demand. Porridge was cooked from it – a favorite dish in the homes of both wealthy people and ordinary peasants. The secret of the popularity of the product was ensured by such advantages as a significant increase in the volume of cereals when boiled, satiety and a special flavor of porridge. Currently, the benefits and harms of buckwheat for the human body are well studied, so it is rightfully the “queen” of the table.
Acquaintance of people with buckwheat began from time immemorial. So, in 1939, during the excavation of a mound in the region, dating back to the 2nd century AD, a vessel with buckwheat seeds was found.
Types of buckwheat
Buckwheat is a herbaceous plant with red stems and beautiful pink inflorescences. Buckwheat does not belong to cereals. This is the so-called pseudo-grain crop.
Its seeds are green after threshing. They contain many vitamins and minerals. At present, there is an increased interest in green buckwheat as a valuable dietary product. Modern green groats, like brown ones, have a long shelf life.
To get the brown buckwheat we are accustomed to, it is steamed, and not fried, as it was before. This method of heat treatment allows you to save about 80% of the useful properties of buckwheat. Parboiled grains can be stored for a long time without deterioration in taste. The fats in it are not oxidized, so the cereal does not go rancid. It is resistant to mildew even in high humidity.
Brown buckwheat comes in several varieties. It:
- Kernels are whole grains with sharp corners; from kernels, a crumbly porridge is obtained.
- Done – a chop of different grind, when cooking gives a viscous “gruel-smear”.
Flakes are flattened grains that have been steamed. They are convenient for making a quick breakfast, but some vitamins and minerals are lost during heat treatment.
Flour – the finest grind, is used in cooking for making pancakes, sauces, in combination with wheat flour is suitable for making noodles and various pastries. The absence of gluten in flour is both an advantage (rarely causes allergies) and a disadvantage (not suitable for kneading bread dough).
Another option for buckwheat is sprouted grains, raw or thermally processed.
But what kind of buckwheat is healthier with such a variety? It should be borne in mind that in green and sprouted, the content of vitamins and minerals is slightly higher than in brown. But the latter has a familiar taste for us and also benefits the body.
Buckwheat protein contains those amino acids that are involved in the synthesis of the human body’s own proteins. Such proteins are superior in value to the compounds contained in cereals of cereal plants. This is especially important for vegetarians, for whom buckwheat replaces animal food. The digestibility of buckwheat protein reaches 78%.
- In buckwheat, a complex carbohydrate starch predominates and there are practically no fast carbohydrates.
- Organic acids, vitamins and trace elements complement the unique composition of the cereal.
- The presence of fat in grains guarantees the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, E and K.
In buckwheat, fiber is 2.7% by weight of boiled cereals, it consists mainly of cellulose and lignin . The presence of insoluble fiber helps reduce the risk of gallstones forming.
Green buckwheat contains in its composition a whole set of flavonoids that have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal effects. During heat treatment, most of them are destroyed, only rutin (vitamin P) and isovitexin remain in small quantities. But their presence is enough to neutralize dangerous free radicals in the body that are formed in the process of cellular metabolism and cause oncological processes.
Why buckwheat is useful for humans
Whether buckwheat porridge is useful can be decided by considering its chemical composition.
The vitamin complex of buckwheat is represented by the following components:
- thiamine (B1), which is involved in metabolism;
- riboflavin (B2), which is involved in the synthesis of erythrocytes, in the regulation of growth and reproductive functions;
- choline (B4), which improves metabolic processes in the nervous tissue (buckwheat is the only grain product containing choline);
- nicotinic acid (PP), which is involved in fat metabolism;
- tocopherol (E), which is a powerful antioxidant and helps oxygenate the blood.
Many cereals can envy the mineral composition of buckwheat:
- high iron content prevents the development of anemia;
- calcium and phosphorus strengthen the skeletal system;
- potassium is essential for heart function;
- magnesium reduces the risk of developing varicose veins, it is a natural antidepressant.
Traditional porridge supplies the body with more than two dozen microelements, without which it is impossible to ensure full life.
Decreased blood glucose
The glycemic index of ordinary steamed buckwheat is 50 units, which does not exceed the permissible norm for diabetes mellitus of 50–55. And green buckwheat has an index of only 43 units, so its use is preferable for “diabetics”.
Canadian experts have found that the concentration of glucose in the blood decreases by 12% one and a half hours after eating buckwheat, and after two hours – by 19%.
“Diabetics” can replace potatoes and bread with buckwheat in their diet.
Buckwheat helps to improve the activity of the heart muscle and normalize metabolic processes in the body due to the presence of potassium.
Vitamins and organic acids prevent the development of atherosclerosis. Vitamin P helps prevent blood clots and relaxes blood vessels. Thus, together with the other component isovitoxin, it helps to lower blood pressure.
Improving bowel function
Fiber fiber in buckwheat is about 14%. Their presence enhances peristalsis, counteracting constipation. Slow digestion of fiber creates a long-lasting feeling of fullness without overloading the intestines. The secretory function of the liver and pancreas improves.
Buckwheat starch enters the large intestine unchanged, where it serves as food for beneficial microflora, improving the bacterial balance.
However, we must remember that too frequent use of steep porridge can adversely affect the tone of the digestive tract.
Weight loss aid
As already noted, complex carbohydrate compounds are absorbed slowly. This feature helps in losing weight while following the buckwheat diet. Experts in the field of therapeutic nutrition recommend both mono-diets with or without the addition of kefir, and a milder unloading diet, in which buckwheat is one of the components included in the diet.
The second factor contributing to weight loss is the increase in porridge volume during cooking. If 100 grams of raw cereals contains more than three hundred kilocalories, then in the same volume of ready-to-eat meals, the calorie content is reduced by more than three times.
In order to lose weight, it is appropriate for breakfast to cook buckwheat in water for consumption on an empty stomach in moderation so as not to cause flatulence.
The benefits of buckwheat for men
The increased protein content in buckwheat turns it into one of the sources of easily digestible amino acids necessary for the development of physical strength and energy, increasing endurance, which is especially important for men.
When buckwheat is consumed, dopamine is produced in the body – a substance that has a positive effect on the mental and emotional state. Together with other antidepressants contained in cereals, this component helps to relieve psycho-emotional nervous tension.
Preventing the development of obesity, buckwheat helps maintain hormonal balance at the proper level, maintaining a normal concentration of testosterone. This creates conditions for good fertility and generally strengthens the male body. The antioxidant properties of buckwheat can reduce the risk of prostate inflammation and protect against prostate tumors.
The benefits of buckwheat for women
The rich mineral composition of cereals, supplemented with a complex of vitamins and amino acids, helps to eliminate problems with hormonal metabolism, preventing the development of chronic pathologies. This is very important for the female body, in which complex cyclical processes are constantly taking place. The use of buckwheat has a positive effect on the state of the reproductive system.
Buckwheat chemical compounds contribute to:
- protection against varicose veins;
- strengthening bone tissue and joints;
- improving blood composition;
- replenishment of the energy balance.
Antioxidants in buckwheat help improve the condition of the skin, hair and nails, producing a rejuvenating effect.
The benefits of buckwheat for pregnant women
Buckwheat is essential for replenishing the deficiency of vitamins and minerals during pregnancy. The presence of vitamin B9 in buckwheat is especially important during periods of rapid body growth – at the stage of intrauterine development and in early childhood. Adequate maternal nutrition helps reduce the risk of fetal abnormalities.
The normalization of peristalsis when using buckwheat also has a beneficial effect on the state of the uterus and fetus.
Buckwheat for babies
It is recommended to start feeding with buckwheat mixtures from 8 months. With them, the child receives a complete set of vitamins and minerals necessary for harmonious development.
The advantage of buckwheat is the absence of gluten in it, which causes allergies in predisposed people.
Benefits for athletes
For a person who is actively involved in physical exercises with increased stress, buckwheat is attractive because this cereal:
- provides the body with the necessary substances;
- due to slowly decomposing starch, it evenly supplies energy to the body throughout the day;
- improves the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract.
Harmful properties of buckwheat and contraindications
Despite the fact that there is no gluten in cereals, sometimes there is an individual intolerance to buckwheat protein with severe allergic manifestations.
Direct clinical contraindications to the use of buckwheat are erosive gastritis, stomach and duodenal ulcers.
With a passion for a diet with the use of sprouted buckwheat, phagopyirism may develop. Its manifestations:
- Inflammation of the skin on exposure to direct sunlight.
- Tingling or numbness in the limbs.
- Sensitive to cold.
- In chronic diseases of the urinary system, its function may deteriorate if a person uses buckwheat too often.
Is it possible to eat buckwheat every day
Any dish with frequent preparation “becomes boring”. This also applies to buckwheat. With repeated intake of even such a useful product as buckwheat, an overload of the intestines and kidneys with fiber and protein, respectively, may occur.
The transition to a buckwheat diet should be short-term – 1-3 days, the maximum allowable period for a mono-diet is 10 days in the absence of contraindications.
Nutritionists recommend to eat buckwheat porridge cooked from 400 g of cereal in 5-6 meals on fasting days.
In the usual diet, buckwheat should appear on the table no more than 2-3 times a week.
How tasty and healthy it is to cook buckwheat
The groats are sorted out and washed in cold water before use. To improve the taste of porridge, buckwheat can be calcined in a frying pan.
There are many recipes for cereals, side dishes, soups, pancakes and sauces, in which the main ingredient is boiled buckwheat.
Cooking buckwheat porridge
The classic way:
- The pan should be metal with a thickened bottom and a tight lid.
- The ratio of kernel and water is 2: 1, less liquid is needed to make it through.
- Pour cereals into boiling salted water and keep on high heat until boiling, then switch to low heat (the lid must be closed).
- It is not recommended to slightly open the lid for stirring so that the cereal is well steamed.
- To make porridge in a slow cooker, you need to pour the washed buckwheat with water on a finger above the surface of the cereal, salt, and bring to readiness.
- Buckwheat goes well with other products of plant and animal origin.