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Buckwheat is a common crop, which is widely grown and used in India, especially during the season of fasting or navratras. During this season, buckwheat flour, commonly known as kuttu ka atta, is used to cook a wide range of delicacies including rotis, puris, pakoras and even tikkis. If you love the taste of these dishes, you must surely be curious to know about the health benefits of this flour. And certainly, you are not going to be disappointed.

Evidence has it that buckwheat has anti-diabetic and even some anti-cancer properties, suggesting that it may be a healthy addition to your diet even when you are not fasting. Most of these benefits can be attributed to its rich nutritional composition, which makes it a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory food. To know more about these benefits, read this article, which will also introduce you to an easy and healthy buckwheat recipe.

Let’s start with knowing more about this grain.

Some basic facts about buckwheat or kuttu

Kuttu flour, which you use, is derived from buckwheat, a short, seasonal crop that commonly grows during colder climatic conditions. Buckwheat has several varieties and types and cannot grow in extremes of climate. After sowing buckwheat, the grain matures within 10 to 12 weeks, so, this crop can be easily grown and utilised, which favours its availability. If you know some basics of crops, you can easily grow buckwheat at home since it is quite an easy and inexpensive crop. Here is some more on this crop:

  • Scientific name: Fagopyrum esculentum
  • Family: Polygonaceae
  • Common name: Kuttu, kuttu ka atta
  • Native region and Geographical distribution: Buckwheat is native to South East Asia, where it was first cultivated. Since then its use has spread around the world. It is now grown as a common crop in the Indian subcontinent and even in the United States.
  • Parts used: Grains
  • Types: Buckwheat has a variety of appearance and is of several types like red buckwheat, unhulled buckwheat, green buckwheat, black buckwheat, naked buckwheat groats, roasted buckwheat groats, buckwheat hulls. Green or black roasted buckwheat is used for making buckwheat flour. This gives a difference to the texture and colour of the flour. Usually, black buckwheat is used for making the kuttu ka atta.
  1. Nutritional composition of buckwheat
  2. Health benefits of buckwheat
  3. How to use buckwheat: Kuttu ka atta recipe
  4. Side effects of buckwheat

Buckwheat has the following nutritional composition as per USDA:

Nutrient and value per 100 grams

Buckwheat as an antioxidant

Antioxidants are substances, which protect your body against oxidative stress and damage (metabolic stress caused due to singlet oxygen species), and thus, protect you from a bundle of diseases that could arise because of this damage. Studies have found that buckwheat is a strong antioxidant due to its rich content of bioactive compounds. Regardless of whether hulled or dehulled varieties are used, buckwheat has been confirmed to have an antioxidant action. But, since the coat is richer in bioactive compounds, it has a 10 percent higher antioxidant content and it will be better to use buckwheat in this form.

Due to its antioxidant benefits, buckwheat is also combined with wheat under several wheat brands, to improve its properties. So, if you are not a fan of the conventional kuttu ka atta, you can opt for these buckwheat-enhanced wheat brands to enjoy its benefits.

Buckwheat for weight loss

Buckwheat is low in calories and fats, which makes it an excellent inclusion to your diet if you are aiming to lose some weight. It is also rich in fibres and carbohydrates, which keeps you fill for a long time and saves you from overindulgence later. While wheat flour is also rich in fibres and carbohydrates, buckwheat can be considered to be a better alternative, especially when keeping weight loss in mind. This is because it is gluten-free and possesses confirmed anti-obesity effects. It has been ascertained by research studies that the inclusion of buckwheat in the diet improves satiety due to its influence on gastrointestinal hormones.

(Read more: Obesity management)

Further, it is quite well-known that gluten is the substance, which is present in grains and is responsible for discomforting effects such as stomach upset and digestive issues. Staying away from gluten can assist weight loss in some individuals, and can even improve the absorption of nutritional components so that all the food is put to good use and is effectively utilised by the body. Also, consuming buckwheat can prevent the annoying muscle pain you experience because of the intake of gluten in your diet. So, you can exercise better, which is another weight loss benefit.

(Read more: Weight loss diet chart)

Buckwheat for celiac disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder which is characterised by an intolerance to gluten products. Individuals with this disorder not only find it hard to digest gluten, and present with digestive issues like bloating and indigestion upon its consumption, but also intestinal damage is seen in them as a response. To prevent these symptoms and to promote intestinal health, these individuals are required to take a diet that is deficient in gluten. So, they have limited food options and wheat products like roti and bread are not on the list. But, what if you could still enjoy some rotis made of buckwheat flour? Yes. That’s possible because as stated above, buckwheat is gluten-free.

Buckwheat has been demonstrated to improve intestinal healing in individuals affected with celiac disease because it prevents the formation of toxic substances which are responsible for these symptoms. So, it is certainly a healthy addition to the diet. Researchers have suggested that those with celiac replace wheat flour with buckwheat to reduce adverse effects that have been caused due to wheat consumption.

Sometimes, celiac disease doesn’t have pronounced symptoms in individuals, so, if you generally feel bloated after the consumption of a gluten-rich meal, it is likely that this substitution will help. However, before you make any substitution, it is important to ensure that it is in line with your doctor’s recommendation.

Buckwheat for inflammatory bowel disease

Inflammatory bowel disease is an umbrella term used to denote a wide range of inflammatory disorders, which can cause long-lasting inflammation and sores in the inner lining of intestines. This causes painful symptoms like abdominal cramps and may also lead to digestive issues like diarrhoea. Researchers have found that bioactive compounds present in buckwheat may have beneficial effects on individuals affected with inflammatory bowel disease. So, it is recommended to include buckwheat in your diet if you face any digestive issues.

Buckwheat for diabetes control

Diabetes is a chronic condition, which is marked by elevated blood glucose levels due to a disturbance in carbohydrate metabolism. Although diabetes cannot be completely cured, it is important that diabetics keep their blood glucose levels in check to avoid health complications. Insulin resistance is one of the most important factors which causes diabetes and affects glucose metabolism.

Clinical studies have suggested that the inclusion of buckwheat in the diet can help in improving insulin resistance in individuals affected with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Further, its inclusion helps to improve the lipid profile, which avoids other health complications in diabetics.

Lab-based studies have even suggested its positive role in the treatment of diabetes. So, maybe it’s time that you start consuming buckwheat in your meals.

Buckwheat for lowering cholesterol

Cholesterol is an important substance, which is required for the synthesis of several hormones. But, as you may already know, high levels of cholesterol can be damaging for your health. They increase the risk of cardiovascular disorders and high blood pressure as the excess cholesterol gets deposited within your blood vessels and restrict blood flow. The best way to mitigate this situation is a healthy diet.

By including certain dietary changes you can easily control your blood cholesterol levels and keep blood pressure in check. The inclusion of buckwheat flour in your diet can be one such dietary change, which can assist in cholesterol reduction. Studies have confirmed its hypocholesteremic activities (cholesterol-lowering). Not only does it reduce cholesterol uptake from food but buckwheat also increases the expulsion of excessive cholesterol from your body.

So, it may be a great idea to include buckwheat flour in your diet, especially if you have high cholesterol levels.

Buckwheat for the heart

High blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol are significant risk factors for cardiovascular disorders. By having a cholesterol-lowering and anti-diabetic effect, buckwheat can help to reduce this risk. Its high potassium content suggests of its possible role in the reduction of blood pressure since dietary potassium is essential for blood pressure management.

The role of buckwheat in the management of hypertension has also been proven by researchers. By having an effect on these risk factors and due to its antioxidant properties, which cater to protect your heart from oxidative damage, buckwheat may actually have a cardioprotective effect. Although confirmatory evidence for the effect of buckwheat on the cardiovascular disease risk profile is still not sufficient, its role in the management of these risk factors is certain.

(Read more: Heart disease causes)

Buckwheat for cancer prevention

Cancer is a disease marked by uninhibited cell growth, which has the potential to spread to surrounding and distant areas of the body affecting their functioning. Dietary and lifestyle modifications have the potential to reduce the risk of cancer by modifying risk factors. Lab studies have found that buckwheat hull, due to the presence of bioactive compounds and antioxidant agents, possesses certain anti-cancer properties. This has been proved in lab studies through its suppressing effect on several cancer lines. The possible mechanism for the anticancer properties of buckwheat has been suggested to be the process of apoptosis (cell death), which helps to ward off abnormal cell growth at an initial stage. While this lacks sufficient research evidence, it may be a great idea to include buckwheat in your diet.

Buckwheat for gallstones

Hardened deposits of cholesterol or digestive juices within the gallbladder are referred to as gallstones and unlike kidney stones, gallstones cannot be done away with home remedies or even medications. Gallstones essentially require the procurement of a surgical procedure, which is what makes them more severe. So, it is a better idea to prevent the formation of gallstones. This may be possible by the inclusion of buckwheat in your diet as suggested by research evidence. Preclinical studies indicate that buckwheat reduces the risk of gallstones by removing excess cholesterol from the body as well as promoting the excretion of excess bile. Both of these are the primary causes of gallstone formation.

With the many health benefits of buckwheat, it is only fair that you are able to utilise them with ease. So, here is an easy and healthy buckwheat recipe:

  • Take a handful of whole buckwheat and bring it to a boil in a pan of water. Use enough water that soaks buckwheat properly. Depending on how you like it you can either leave some water or dry/strain it out once the buckwheat is soft enough.
  • Put this in a bowl and add your favourite vegetables like cucumber, spinach or some lettuce
  • Mix these ingredients and top with olive oil and lemon juice
  • You may also add your favourite herbs or spices to enjoy this delectable salad.

Buckwheat is a healthy food and has been regarded as completely safe for consumption. However, some individuals may be allergic to its consumption, which may cause them to have allergic symptoms.

Due to the lack of studies on pregnant women, its safety in expecting mothers cannot be determined. So, if you are pregnant, it is best to talk to your doctor before beginning buckwheat consumption.

(Read more: Pregnancy diet chart)

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References

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