Characteristics of buckwheat
Common English name: buckwheat, beech wheat.
- Spanish: alforfón, alforjón, trigo sarraceno, trigo negro, trigo-haya, trigo turco, morisco, moro o árabe.
- Catalan: fajol, negre blat, blat Sarrai, Cairat, blat cairut.
- French: sarrasin, blé noir, renouée, bouquette
- Italian: fagopiro, grain saraceno, sarasin, faggina.
- German: Buchweizen, Heidekorn
Scientific name: Fagopyrum esculentum Moench.
A detail of buckwheat grains
Habitat: plant native to the Chinese region of Manchuria. In ancient times it was widely cultivated throughout China and later it was introduced in Russia and Europe by the Tartars and Turkish incursions in the late Middle Ages.
Buckwheat arrived in England in the seventeenth century, although it was the Dutch who exported this plant to the U.S. in the same century.
This plant grows wild in parts of North Eastern Europe, such as Poland and Russia, where for many centuries formed part of the diet of these populations who used it for flour or cooked with vegetables and cereals.
It grows in acid soils, neutral and basic or alkaline, and tolerate very acidic soils. It can grow in dry and wet places. It is NOT frost resistant but it can resist drought itself. Cultivation requirements are minimal.
Description of buckwheat
A drawing of the plant
First it should be emphasized that buckwheat, unlike what you can guess from its name, is not a cereal. A grain is a plant belonging to the botanical family of grasses (rice, rye, barley, wheat). Instead, buckwheat belongs to the Polygonaceae family. It is, for example, a relative of rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) and Sorrel (Rumex acetosa).
However, buckwheat is considered a pseudocereal because of its high starch content and its use in food such as flour and grain. Other pseudocereals are quinoa and amaranth.
Buckwheat is a robust herbaceous plant, with annual growth that can measure 20 to 70 cm (1 meter high in some areas).
Nutritional composition of buckwheat
- Carbohydrates: buckwheat grain contains mainly carbohydrates, in the form of starch, in a proportion of 70%. This is more than other cereals like maize, so buckwheat flour is typically used as a thickener or for making resistant pasta as traditional Japanese soba noodles
Buckwheat contains a type of sugar called fagomine, a molecule responsible for regulating hunger and appetite.
- Protein: after the starch, the major component of buckwheat is protein. In contains lysine, a deficient amino acid in all cereals, and methionine, limiting amino acid in legumes. For these reasons it combines perfectly with cereals and legumes, because buckwheat increases the biological value of their proteins. Furthermore, IT HAS NO GLUTEN, making it ideal for coeliacs.
- Fat: buckwheat contains almost no fat, 3.40 g per 100g of product. Like other cereals and plant foods containing fat, these are mono and polyunsaturated fats, which makes it a very healthy food for people with vascular problems and cholesterol.
- Fiber: fiber content of buckwheat is significant, because it has a content comparable to whole grains (without being a cereal). It is predominantly soluble fiber, reason why it acquires a slightly gelatinous texture when boiling it
- Vitamins: We should highlight the presence of niacin, folic acid, pantothenic acid, and, to a lesser extent, other vitamins in foods rich in carbohydrates, thiamin and riboflavin.
* See details of composition
Varieties of buckwheat
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This material is for informational purposes only. In case of doubt, consult the doctor.