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Nutrition of Buckwheat

 History

Buckwheat is native to Northern Europe as well as Asia. From the 10th through the 13th century, it was widely cultivated in China. From there, it spread to Europe and Russia in the 14th and 15th centuries, and was introduced in the United States by the Dutch during the 17th century.

Buckwheat is widely produced in Russia and Poland, where it plays an important role in their traditional cuisines. Other countries where buckwheat is cultivated commercially include the United States, Canada, and France, the country famous for its buckwheat crepes.Health Benefits

 

A Grain That's Good for Your Cardiovascular System

Diets that contain buckwheat have been linked to lowered risk of developing high cholesterol and high blood pressure. The Yi people of China consume a diet high in buckwheat (100 grams per day, about 3.5 ounces). When researchers tested blood lipids of 805 Yi Chinese, they found that buckwheat intake was associated with lower total serum cholesterol, lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL, the form linked to cardiovascular disease), and a high ratio of HDL (health-promoting cholesterol) to total cholesterol.

Buckwheat's beneficial effects are due in part to its rich supply of flavonoids, particularlyrutin. Flavonoids are phytonutrients that protect against disease by extending the action of vitamin C and acting as antioxidants. Buckwheat's lipid-lowering activity is largely due to rutin and other flavonoid compounds. These compounds help maintain blood flow, keep platelets from clotting excessively (platelets are compounds in blood that, when triggered, clump together, thus preventing excessive blood loss, and protect LDL from free radical oxidation into potentially harmful cholesterol oxides. All these actions help to protect against heart disease.

Buckwheat also contains almost 86 milligrams of magnesium in a one-cup serving. Magnesium relaxes blood vessels, improving blood flow and nutrient delivery while lowering blood pressure—the perfect combination for a healthy cardiovascular system.

Better Blood Sugar Control and A Lowered Risk of Diabetes

The nutrients in buckwheat may contribute to blood sugar control. In a test that compared the effect on blood sugar of whole buckwheat groats to bread made from refined wheat flour, buckwheat groats significantly lowered blood glucose and insulin responses. Whole buckwheats also scored highest on their ability to satisfy hunger.

When researchers followed almost 36,000 women in Iowa during a six-year long study of the effects of whole grains and the incidence of diabetes, they found that women who consumed an average of 3 servings of whole grains daily had a 21 percent lower risk of diabetes compared to those who ate one serving per week. Because buckwheat is a good source of magnesium, it is also important to note that women who ate the most foods high in magnesium had a 24 percent lower risk of diabetes compared to women who ate the least.

Buckwheat and other whole grains are also a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that acts as a co-factor for more than 300 enzymes, including enzymes involved in the body's use of glucose and insulin secretion.

The FDA permits foods that contain at least 51% whole grains by weight (and are also low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol) to display a health claim stating consumption is linked to lower risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Now, research suggests regular consumption of whole grains also reduces risk of type 2 diabetes. (van Dam RM, Hu FB,Diabetes Care).

 

 

 

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