Buckwheat may sound like it's related to wheat and may be used like wheat, but it is Not related to wheat! It's not a grass, it's a pseudocereal related to rhubarb and sorrel, and completely gluten free. Bees are attracted to the fragrant flowers from which they produce a dark and strongly flavoured honey.
Buckwheat was first domesticated and cultivated in Asia thousands of years ago. It can grow at very high elevations, unlike wheat, which is why buckwheat noodles have been eaten in Tibet and Northern China for centuries.
Due to its rich supply of flavenoids and magnesium, buckwheat is very beneficial to our cardiovascular system by helping lower cholesterol, maintain blood flow, relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure.
Buckwheat has been shown to lower blood glucose and insulin responses, and may be helpful in the management of diabetes.
Buckwheat is high in insoluble fiber, which contributes to intestinal health, and may help prevent gallstones. Whole grain dietary fiber has also been shown to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and heart attacks.
It is also a very good source of manganese and a good source of copper, magnesium, and phosphorus.
The protein in buckwheat is a high quality protein, containing all eight essential amino acids, including lysine.
Buckwheat is sold either unroasted or roasted, the latter oftentimes called "kasha," from which a traditional European dish is made. Unroasted buckwheat has a soft, subtle flavor, while roasted buckwheat has more of an earthy, nutty taste. Its color ranges from tannish-pink to brown. Buckwheat is often served as a rice alternative or porridge. We use the whole grain 'groats' in our multigrain sourdough, which you'll sometimes see as white specks when you cut into it.
Buckwheat is also ground into flour, and often used to make buckwheat pancakes or soba noodles.