Buckwheat is one of the most beloved superfoods in Lithuania. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also included the country's staple grains in the list of must-have products during self-isolation.
According to the WHO, buckwheat is affordable, easy to prepare, and has a long shelf life. The grain is also good for health, as it contains a whole bunch of valuable nutrients.
“Buckwheat mostly contains carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates found in these grains provide a sense of being full, regulate and maintain the sugar level in the blood,” a nutritionist Eglė Kliukaitė-Sidorova told LRT.lt.
She added that buckwheat is classified as a product of low or medium glycemic index. This index shows how quickly a product raises the sugar level in the blood. Eating buckwheat does not lead to a sudden jump of the sugar level in the blood, contrary to eating simple carbohydrates, such as white flour products, the nutritionist explained.
Buckwheat is also rich in insoluble dietary fibre that is necessary for smooth bowel function and colon bacteria. In addition, the grain contains amino acids and plant-based proteins that are especially important for vegetarians.
“Buckwheat is also rich in B1, B2, B3, B6 vitamins and rutin necessary for the maintenance of our nervous system,” said Kliukaitė-Sidorova.
“It also contains many minerals: manganese that is important for metabolism and growth, copper needed for heart health, magnesium useful for maintaining nerve and muscle health, iron needed to prevent anaemia, and phosphorus necessary for growth and bone health,” she added.
However, buckwheat also contains oxalate and should be consumed with caution by people with kidney stones. It is also not recommended for people with grain allergies.
According to Kliukaitė-Sidorova, 100 grams of dry buckwheat contains around 340 calories, 13.3 grams of protein, 72 grams of carbohydrates, 3.4 grams of fat, and 10 grams of fibre. There are no strict norms for how much buckwheat per day a person should eat, the nutritionist said.
Based on the healthy eating pyramid, however, people should eat various products containing complex carbohydrates, while the daily portion of cooked buckwheat should be around 200-300 grams.
“The specific portion size usually depends on many factors, including a person’s age, gender, physical activity, health condition, and so on,” Kliukaitė-Sidorova explained.
For maximum health benefits, the nutritionist advised eating buckwheat left in water overnight.
“If you still decide to cook it, remember not to overcook the grains. Cooking buckwheat from 10 to 12 minutes is enough to make them suitable for eating,” she added.
Buckwheat diet, whereby a person eats nothing but these grains for a few days, has become extremely popular in recent years. According to Kliukaitė-Sidorova, the usefulness of the diet also depends on a person.
“It is important to pay attention to the purpose of such a diet. If a young, thin girl chooses a buckwheat diet, it could be the first sign of an eating disorder,” the nutritionist said.
“But if we have to stay home for a few days and have no other food but buckwheat, nothing bad will happen to us,” she added.
According to Kliukaitė-Sidorova, however, a key to good health is a well-balanced diet with various products, so buckwheat should not be abused despite its many benefits.
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