Buckwheat Millet

The rapidly expanding demand for food has encouraged consumption of climate resistant, economical and nutritionally sufficient minor millets. Equally rich in minerals and nutrient bioavailability are pseudo cereals. Pseudo cereals is a name given to amaranth (Amaranthus sp.), and buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum). These cereals are different than millets in their morphology but maintain similar characteristics with respect to their high nutritional profile and ability to provide food security.

Buckwheat is a pseudo cereal mainly produced in high altitude terrains due to its superior climate resistance. It is one of the most popular pseudo millets in India and is often used during the fasting period of the Navratri’s in India It is a crop suitable for cultivation in marginal lands and yields harvests in a short time. Commonly cultivated in the Himalayan region, it supports the livelihood of the hilly population.

Locally referred to as “Kuttu” and scientifically known as Fagopyrum esculentum Moench (Buckwheat) is a native of Central Asia and cultivated in China and other Eastern countries. Buckwheat presents immense nutraceutical benefits ranging from carrying nutritionally balanced amino acid composition of protein and its high levels of antioxidant content. Its recent popularity emerges from its gluten free nature and high fiber content.

Nutritional composition of buckwheat per 100g (USDA)

NutrientsAmounts
Energy333 kcals
Protein13.3 g
Fat2.2 g
Fiber2.2 g
Calcium67 mg
Iron2 mg

Energy: Buckwheat is a high energy pseudo millet that is known for its high content of resistant starch resulting in low glycemic response by the body. It is essentially consumed for its fiber and efficient nutrient profile managing blood sugar, preventing the risk of heart disease and aiding weight loss. Being a rich source of soluble fibre, buckwheat is diabetes-friendly and lowers blood pressure. This millet contains rutin, a bioflavonoid known to control hypertension. Kuttu is also beneficial for good cardiovascular health.

Protein: Buckwheat is the richest source of proteins among many cereals and millets. It has a protein content of 13.3g per 100g. Its amino acid profile is rich in lysine that is deficient in most cereals. These amino acids are known to have cholesterol lowering properties in the blood serum.

Fat: Buckwheat contains much lower fat contents as compared to wheat and rice. They are rich in essentially poly unsaturated essential fatty acids such as linoleic acid that have serum cholesterol lowering properties and are deemed as healthy fats. They are also rich sources of polyphenol compounds.

Vitamins and minerals: Buckwheat contains high significant amount of minerals including potassium, magnesium and phosphorous. This pseudo cereal is known for its high bioavailability of copper, zinc and manganese. Vitamins including B vitamins, vitamin K, Vitamin C and vitamin E in comparison to regularly consumed cereals. Studies have shown better micronutrient bioavailability on germination or fermentation of buckwheat seeds.

Apart from these major nutrient’s buckwheat contains a panel of antioxidants including flavonoids that play a crucial role in lowering blood pressure, maintaining a good lipid profile by increasing high density lipoproteins and lowering low density lipoproteins, thus improving cardiovascular wellbeing. They possess anti-inflammatory properties and helps in protecting against childhood asthama. Magnesium present in this pseudo millet has the ability to control high blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels. A rich panel of macro and micro nutrients in this pseudo cereal are also helpful in giving satiety and aiding in weight management. Buckwheat is generally ground into a fine powder to make bread, puris and cheelas.