Buckwheat, commonly known as Kuttu, is used in our country only on fasting days. Many are not aware of its nutritional value and thus lose out on this superfood!
Did I know about it, certainly not. It is only when I started delving into the ancient grains which we have forgotten did I read about buckwheat. Aah! How intelligent our ancestors were! They fasted through the day but compensated by having amaranth, buckwheat, sweet potatoes and yogurt. It’s time we include these on our table. Regular once a week fasting gives rest to the digestive tract and in this way, we shall perforce sustain on a non-cereal diet; a change from the regular and a health-giving meal!
Vastly grown in the USA, Canada, France, Eastern Europe, Russia and countries of the erstwhile USSR, and China buckwheat crepes and noodles are famous as are breakfast pancakes and kasha. We, in India, need to be more aware of this super food.
Nutritional value of buckwheat:
- Containing mostly carbs, buckwheat has all the indispensable amino acids in excellent proportions especially in lysine which is a limited amino acid in wheat, rice, maize.
- Contains a concentration of copper. Copper helps in the production of RBCs (red blood corpuscles). Store drinking water in a copper pot to get your daily supply of copper.
- Rich in iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, zip, selenium and plenty of fibre.
I shall now extol the benefits of including buckwheat as a regular meal. Nutritionalists recommend having six servings a week and having seen the benefits myself I’ve managed to convince my children to include this wonder food in their diet and I’m sure slowly and surely my readers shall also do so.
Benefits of Buckwheat
- A gluten free, non-cereal pseudo grain is perfect for those with gluten allergy.
- A diet with buckwheat lowers the risk of developing high cholesterol and high blood pressure. The high percentage of magnesium in buckwheat relaxes the blood vessels, improving blood flow and nutrient delivery while lowering blood pressure – the perfect combination for a healthy cardiovascular system. The lignans in buckwheat protect against heart disease.
- Better blood sugar control and a lowered risk of diabetes. Heart diseases and diabetes are very common in urban India because of faulty food habits.
- Helps prevent gall stones. The high insoluble fibre in buckwheat moves faster in the intestinal tract and thus reduces the secretion of bile acids. The excessive bile acids contribute to the gall stones formation.
- Lowers triglycerides.
- A diet rich in high fibre lowers the risk of colon cancer.
- If one has varicose veins, then buckwheat is the grain for you. Replace your chapatis with buckwheat cheelas and you’ll find relief.
- The abundant lignans in buckwheat protect against breast cancer and other hormonal dependant cancers. Those approaching menopause should include buckwheat in their diet and escape hot flushes.
- The magnesium in buckwheat has a curative effect on depression and headache.
- The minerals present make buckwheat perfect for the immune system.
Since buckwheat is used sparingly as a food in our country it is not easily available in our stores except when fasting festivals like Shivratri or Janamasthami come around. Buckwheat flour (a grey coloured flour with an earthy taste) has a short shelf life. If you have to use more of buckwheat as mentioned above, then it is best to stock whole buckwheat and make your weekly flour. Labour intensive but worth it! Hulled buckwheat is available but whole buckwheat is richer only that one has to sieve it. The husk can be used as a body scrub or in the garden soil.
Enjoying buckwheat in varied ways:
- Substitute some of the refined flour in your cakes and muffins with buckwheat flour (use the hulled variety).
- A Sunday breakfast with buckwheat pancakes with maple syrup / honey to begin the day.
- A healthy snack with buckwheat waffles after workout or swimming! The kids will love it.
- Make plain cheelas on a medium hot griddle (does not require oil) and serve with yogurt.
- Mixed with rice flour, buckwheat makes crisp dosas.
- Grated beetroot or carrots with onions make wonderful uthapams with buckwheat
- Hulled buckwheat boiled in water as 1:2 ratio and sweetened with honey and topped with fruits – this is Kasha; a porridge commonly eaten in Central Asian countries.
Include buckwheat in your diets and folks, the wonders will be there to experience.
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