The main ingredient in Breton crepes is making a comeback! Buckwheat, or 'black wheat' as its sometimes mistakenly called, isn't actually a cereal but a pseudo-cereal (1) which, therefore, contains no gluten. This mysterious grain still holds many secrets, and several studies are currently being conducted to determine the extent of its regenerative effect on the human body. Below is a summary of what we know today.
The primarily advantage of buckwheat is its exceptional nutritional properties (2). It is a whole grain, rich in fibre which provides most of the nutrients needed for your body to function properly. Its antioxidant potential lies in the high levels of flavonoïd (3) acid contained in the grain, which are believed to significantly lower blood cholesterol levels by assisting the action of vitamin C in the body. These molecules help eliminate 'bad' cholesterol in the blood, thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (4).
Buckwheat has something else that other cereals don't: rutin, a molecule that protects cells from oxydative stress (5). Studies have shown that patients who eat buckwheat regularly have significantly fewer symptoms of certain kidney diseases (6). The chiro-inositol contained in buckwheat grain speeds up the body's metabolism of glucose and can help prevent and even treat certain symptoms of diabetes (7). Eating bread made with buckwheat flour rather than wheat flour and consuming a balanced diet is thought to lower insulin levels by as much as 19% (8).
Buckwheat contains high levels of magnesium an excellent anticoagulant and, in autumn and winter, its anti-stress properties make the seasonal transition easier by considerably reducing the fatigue felt as your body adapts to the colder days (9). Eating buckwheat helps you keep your 'second brain' - your gut - in good health too, as it's an excellent probiotic (10). It contains several types of fibre which sustainably protect intestinal flora by promoting the natural production of bacteria and enzymes which are essential to the health of your digestive system. These reduce the absorption of bad fats and improve transit. Plus, it was recently proven that regular intake of fibre contained in whole grains like buckwheat prevented the formation of gall stones and other problems linked to an out of balance intestinal flora (11).
Last but not least, buckwheat is particularly beneficial to women, at all stages of their lives. Plant lignin, one of buckwheat's most prominent fibres, boosts the production of hormones (12) that protect against breast cancer; according to certain studies, the effort is worth it: women who consume fibre daily were seen to have a 52% (13) lower risk of contracting this disease (14).
Buckwheat flour easily substitutes for wheat flour in any gluten-free recipe: cakes, cookies, pancakes, waffles, crepes, quiches, breads, pasta, soufflés, blinis and even porridge. Be creative! But remember, as with most whole grains, pesticides tend to get lodged in the external layers of the grain. These layers are not removed to make the flour, so it's important to use organic flour whenever possible to avoid the risk of contamination.
Did you know that buckwheat kernels can be eaten alone ? Boil them for 20 minutes and add them as an original touch to your salads and seasonal fruit, with fromage blanc for a hearty and delicious breakfast. Buckwheat also goes well with green vegetables like spinach and chard, as well as with sea food: surprise your guests with a courgette and buckwheat pilaf with shrimps!
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