More and more people are paying attention to healthy eating. However, we tend to spend a fortune on expensive superfoods instead of discovering cheap, healthy and versatile ingredients. Buckwheat (hajdina in Hungarian) may be one of the healthiest foods that you are not eating, but it should be a part of your diet.
Buckwheat is sometimes called an ancient grain as it has been widely grown for more than 6000 years. It was domesticated and first cultivated in Southeast Asia, and from there spread to Central Asia and Tibet, and then to the Middle East and Europe. In Hungary it was a common crop until fertilizers were introduced in the 20th century, which increased the production of corn and wheat.
Buckwheat is not a grain
Despite its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat, it belongs to a group of foods commonly called pseudocereals. This is the category name for seeds from non-grass plants commonly consumed in the same way as grains. Amaranth and quinoa are also pseudocereals.
Buckwheat is gluten-free
Buckwheat is actually a fruit seed that is related to rhubarb and sorrel making it a suitable substitute for grains for people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities. It can be used in place of wheat grains such as bulgur, wheat berries, spelt, and freekeh, using the same cooking method.
Why is it healthy?
Buckwheat is one of the most important alternative crops and a valuable raw material for functional foods production since its nutritional value is considerably higher than that of many other grains. It is rich in many minerals, including manganese, magnesium and copper. It is also a good source of the B vitamins: B6, pantothenic acid, niacin, folate, thiamin and choline.
Buckwheat also contains a decent amount of fiber, which your body cannot digest. This nutrient is good for colon health. It’s a good source of high-quality protein because it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids that humans do not produce naturally and must consume through food.
Before you run to the store to stockpile it, let me warn you that buckwheat has a special, characteristic, nutty flavour, which is not liked by everyone. I recommend tasting it first in order to decide whether you can come to terms with this odd pseudocereal.