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Buckwheat

Buckwheat, often considered a grain in the kitchen, is actually a fruit seed. It is a good source of fiber with a high quality protein and a good source of other nutrients. Buckwheat is a good alternative to rice and can be made into porridge or sprouted and uses as a vegetable green.

Buckwheat
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What it is

Buckwheat is a single white fruit seed inside a hard outer hull, similar to sunflower seed. The hull is dark and the seed coat is green or tan. The hulled seed of the buckwheat is known as buckwheat groats.

Buckwheat is a grain-like crop plant. It is not a grass and not related to wheat, rice or other cereals. It is used like a grain although it is not one; therefore it is considered a pseudo-cereal. Buckwheat can be a good alternative to rice or made into porridge. 

The flowers of the buckwheat plant are very fragrant and produce a dark, strong flavored honey.

Roasting buckwheat, known as Kasha, makes it one of the few alkalizing grains.  

Buckwheat can be sprouted, like most grains. These young greens are an excellent source of chlorophyll, vitamins and enzymes.


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What is in it

Buckwheat is a very good source of manganese and a good source of dietary fiber, tryptophan and magnesium.

Buckwheat contains the flavonoids rutin and quercitin. Flavonoids are photonutrients with important health promoting effects.

The protein in buckwheat is a high quality vegetarian protein including all eight essential amino acids.

Young greens of sprouted buckwheat are an excellent source of chlorophyll, vitamins and enzymes.


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What it is good for

Buckwheat does not contain gluten, which makes it a great food for people with gluten allergies as a substitute for wheat, oats, rye and barley. 

Buckwheat; 
• Cleanses and strengthens the intestines
• Improves appetite
• Treats dysentery
• Treats diarrhea
• Helps treat type 2 diabetes

Buckwheat contains flavonoids, which are phytonutrients, in particular, rutin. 
Rutin; 
• Strengthens blood vessels
• Strengthens capillary walls
• Reduces hemorrhages
• Reduces blood pressure
• Increases blood circulation to the limbs.
• Helps neutralize the effect of x-rays and other radiation.

Dried buckwheat leaves were made into a tea in Europe for its rutin.

The insoluble fiber will help protect against gallstones

Buckwheat heals the skin. Make a police of roasted buckwheat flour mixed with vinegar and apply directly to treat skin inflammations, eruptions and burns.


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When you get it

Buck wheat can be found in markets all year around.


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Which to select

Buy only organic grains, as toxins tend to concentrate in the seeds cereal grains. 

Buckwheat, can usually be bought packaged or in bulk containers. For the freshest product buy grain that is stored well in sealed airtight containers in markets or shops with good turnover. Be sure that there is no evidence of moisture of mold. The grain should be whole. 


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Where to store

Store buckwheat in a well-sealed container away from light and heat. If stored correctly they can keep well for up to 1 year. Once they have been cooked, store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator where they will keep for a few days keep for a few days.

Flour and other ground products should be produces as soon as possible to the time it is needed and stored in the refrigerator.

If stored well, the whole grains should keep for up to one year and the flour for several months.


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How to use

Rinse buckwheat well in water before cooking to remove any dirt. For each cup of buckwheat groats add 2 cups of water or stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, until tender, to a consistency similar to rice.

Buckwheat is commonly made into noodles and plays an important role in countries including Japan (soba noodles), Korea (naengmyeon, makguksu and memil guksu) and Italy (pizzoccheri).

Roasted buckwheat groats are known as kasha. Kasha can be made into porridge, which is a popular “peasant” dish traditionally from Russia and Poland.

Buckwheat pancakes are popular around the world, in France, the United States, and Russia.

Buckwheat can be sprouted and eaten as a vegetable green. The sprouts are very nutritious know for their subtle, nutty flavor. The sprouts can also be dried and used later, sprinkled on salads or other dishes.


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How much you need

To reach your health goals and become healthy the most important step is to eat a well balanced diet of food from across all the food groups. 
 
Grains (Carbohydrates):  6 – 8 
Meat and beans Protein:  1 – 2 
Fats: 1
Dairy:     2 - 3
Fruit: 2
Vegetables: 5
Water: 6


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Things to watch out for

Buckwheat is not recommended for those with heat signs, including fever, red dace, thirst or high blood pressure, or for people with wind conditions including dizziness, nervousness, or emotional instability.

Sprouted buckwheat greens or their juice can induce skin sensitivity to the sun particularly in fair skinned people.


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References

The Journal of Nutrition – The American Society for Nutrition, http://jn.nutrition.org, retrieved 05/2009.

Exploring Buckwheat's Glucose Lowering Potential, http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00841503, retrieved 01/2009.

Mary Meck Higgins, Ph.D., R.D., L.D., CDE, Healthful Whole Grains! Kansas State University, http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/dp_fnut/mf2560.pdf., retrieved 01/2009.

Prepared by the editors at Harvard Health Publications in consultation with Meir J. Stampfer, M.D., Dr.P.H., Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Vitamins and Minerals: What you need to know,  Harvard School of Public Health, 2008.

Bratman, Steven, and David Kroll. Natural Health Bible. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1999.

Paul Pitchford. Healing with whole food, North Atlantic Books, 2002.

Goldman L, Ausiello D. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders, 2004.

Norton Greenberger M.D. and Roanne Weisman, 4 Weeks to Healthy Digestion, Harvard School of Public Health. (2008)
 


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