The Superfood You Have Never Tried Before
If you heard someone mention buckwheat, what thoughts would come to mind? Maybe you never tried it before and know little about it. The name might not sound very appealing, but the powerhouse of nutrients that it contains sure are! We are here to enlighten you on this amazing superfood and all that it has to offer to athletes, anyone who works out, and all humans in general.
P.S. There are some surprise Foodnerd details at the end of this blog, so be sure to read all the way through!
But First…What is Buckwheat?
Herbaceous Plant. Buckwheat is a herbaceous plant (has non-woody stems) of the Polygonaceae family that is native to central Asia. Other plants in this family include rhubarb and sorrel.
Pseudocereal. Buckwheat is a pseudocereal or a plant that produces seeds that are eaten like a cereal grain, but is does not belong to the grass family like most cereal grains. The USDA still classifies it as a whole grain. Other common whole grain pseudocereals include quinoa and amaranth.
Gluten Free. Despite its name, it does not contain any wheat and is gluten-free.
Buckwheat can be eaten as groats (outer layer of the seed has been removed), noodles, or flour. Buckwheat groats look and taste similar to steel-cut oats.
Buckwheat is not called a superfood for nothing—it is packed to the brim with amazing nutrients:
- Protein & Essential Amino Acids. Buckwheat contains protein that has a high biologic value, which means that it contains all 9 essential amino acids in proportions that are similar to the what the human body needs. This protein is hard to digest because of the presence of antinutrients (tannins, protease inhibitors, etc), BUT…Sprouting can help big time! When buckwheat is sprouted, its level of antinutrients decrease and it becomes easier to digest (protein included). Remember this sprouting tidbit for later!
- Low-Glycemic Carbohydrates. Buckwheat is high in carbohydrates that come in the form of starch, otherwise known as complex carbs. These carbs rank low on the glycemic index (GI) scale, which means they are digested slowly and won’t cause a spike in our blood sugar (high GI carbs are digested much quicker and cause a rapid and large release of blood sugar—no bueno).
- Fiber. Buckwheat also contains resistant starch (type of carbohydrate), which is resistant to digestion and categorized as a type of fiber. Resistant starch acts as a prebiotic and feeds the “good” bacteria in our gut. In response, these bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs are extremely important for gut health. (to learn more read this blog on fiber).
- High in Minerals. Contains small amounts of B vitamins, folate, and vitamin K, BUT is high in many important minerals:
- High in Phytochemicals (Beneficial Plant Compounds) : Buckwheat is rich in many biologically active plant compounds called polyphenols (can be broken down into two main classes: flavonoids and phenolic acids). Biologically active means that these compounds have therapeutic effects on our cells that help to prevent chronic disease. Polyphenols are responsible for many of buckwheat’s health benefits.
Buckwheat’s high polyphenol content means that it has a high antioxidant capacity. Buckwheat is higher in antioxidants than many other cereal grains, including barley, oats, wheat, and rye.
The most important polyphenols (belong to the flavonoid group) found in buckwheat are:
- Rutin & Quercetin. Out of most plant foods, the richest source of rutin is found in buckwheat. Rutin is converted into quercetin once it enters the bloodstream. Rutin has strong antioxidant properties and anti-inflammatory effects.
Who Should Eat Buckwheat?
Everyone for that matter, but especially people who train their bodies for endurance and strength like athletes or anyone who likes to workout.
Why Should I Eat Buckwheat if I am an Athlete or Someone Who Works Out? So many reasons…
Source of High-Quality, Complete Protein. Athletes need to get an adequate amount of protein in their diet because it is used to repair and rebuild muscles and has many other important functions in the body. It is important to eat sources of protein that contain all 9 essential amino acids (our bodies cannot make these), otherwise known as a complete protein. Buckwheat contains all 9 essential amino acids, which makes it a high-quality, complete protein (this type of protein can be hard to come by in the vegan diet). It is rich in limiting amino acids like lysine and arginine, which are in shortest supply in plant-based diets.
- Lysine: Lysine promotes healthy tissue growth and healing. It is also essential for carnitine production (helps convert fatty acids into energy) and is required for collagen formation. Lysine may be able to improve the sports performance by enhancing protein synthesis and tissue repair.
- Arginine: Arginine is a conditionally essential amino acid that is involved in making protein, detoxifying ammonia (toxic byproduct leftover from protein digestion), and can be converted to glucose and used to produce energy. A study comparing wrestlers showed that supplementation with arginine caused a 5.8% increase in time to exhaustion during maximal incremental exercise.
- Good Source of Carbs to Fuel your Workout. Buckwheat is made up of mostly carbohydrates. The most abundant carbohydrate in buckwheat is starch, otherwise known as a complex carb. Starch is produced by plants and is stored as energy. It is also a significant source of energy for humans—especially when you need fuel for that grueling HIIT workout! We also mentioned that buckwheat contains low-glycemic carbs, which means that the glucose released into your bloodstream is slow and sustained, which is perfect for endurance athletes.
- *Remember: if you are an athlete or someone who loves to work out and your diet does not contain enough carbohydrates, it is likely that your performance and recovery will be impaired (carbs are the main fuel for the brain and muscles during exercise).
- Less Fiber, which means Less Bloating & Tummy Upset. Although Buckwheat does contain some fiber, it does not contain a high amount of it, which means that you can eat it before a workout without worrying about feeling bloated or having your stomach all out of whack. You can use buckwheat to fuel you without the uncomfortable tummy side effects!
- High Antioxidants Help Fight Inflammation. Buckwheat contains rutin, which is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. This means that rutin and quercetin may help fight off inflammation produced from exercising.
- Fights exercise-induced oxidative stress. Rutin may also be able to help rid of the body of damaging free radicals produced from hard exercise. This equates to better recovery and a decreased risk of injury.
- Enhanced Endurance/Fights Exercise Fatigue. Numerous studies show that the reason for exercise fatigue is related to the metabolism of free radicals. Buckwheat is rich in rutin, which can help to eliminate free radicals from the body with its powerful antioxidant properties. This means that rutin may help to delay fatigue brought on by strenuous exercise.
- Contain AA that Help to Form Collagen. Buckwheat contains lysine, which plays a key role collagen formation. Collagen is a type of protein that helps with skin, bone, and connective tissue repair. It is also important in keeping our joints healthy, which can help prevent injury when exercising or overtraining.
How to Incorporate Buckwheat into your Diet:
There are many ways to eat buckwheat (groats, flour, noodles), BUT we have an extremely delicious, nutritious, and convenient option that will help make your busy life so much easier.
Introducing Buckwheat OverNights!
- What: Sprouted Buckwheat comes in the flavors, wild blueberry banana, cinnamon apple, and chocolate goji berry.
- Why: Full of amazing nutrients, bioactive plant compounds, may help to prevent chronic disease, and is fantastic option to fuel your workout! *Remember, this buckwheat is sprouted, which means that it is much easier to digest and also helps to make it’s nutrients more biologically available for us to absorb!
When to Eat Buckwheat OverNights?
- Eat an hour or two before a workout to fuel yourself! (Make sure to give your body some time to digest your food before working out—digestion requires a lot of energy and will take away from the energy needed to fuel your workout).
- Refuel yourself after a workout—prevent exhaustion after an intense workout by making sure that your body has the nutrient that it needs to recover!
Other Health Benefits:
Buckwheat is considered to be a superfood, which means it is a food that is nutritionally dense and thought to have health benefits. It is also considered to be a functional food, which is one step above a superfood. Functional foods have scientifically proven, specific health benefits that go beyond their nutritional properties. Buckwheat is a functional food due to its high antioxidant content (rutin and quercitrin).
May help prevent the development of chronic diseases, such as:
- High cholesterol
- Neurological disorders
- Heart disease
Buckwheat is also high in minerals that are great for the immune system, including manganese, magnesium, copper, and zinc.
Buckwheat is an amazing superfood that is fantastic for athletes, those of us who enjoy exercising, or anyone who does any type of physical activity (should be everyone since physical activity is so important for our health!). It also has amazing health benefits that any person can take advantage of—whether you like to exercise or not.
Luckily, FoodNerd has made it extremely easy for us to try out buckwheat. The win here is that Buckwheat OverNights barely take any time to prepare and taste delicious at any time of the day.
Don’t let yourself miss out on the amazing benefits that buckwheat has to offer!
- Al-Dhabi, Naif Abdullah, et al. "An up-to-date review of rutin and its biological and pharmacological activities." EXCLI journal 14 (2015): 59.
- Campbell, Bill I., Paul M. La Bounty, and Mike Roberts. "The ergogenic potential of arginine." Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 1.2 (2004): 1-4.
- Christa, Karolina, and Maria Soral-Śmietana. "Buckwheat grains and buckwheat products–nutritional and prophylactic value of their components–a review." Czech J. Food Sci 26.3 (2008): 153-162.Gimenez-Bastida, Juan Antonio, and Henryk Zielinski. "Buckwheat as a functional food and its effects on health." Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 63.36 (2015): 7896-7913.
- Giménez‐Bastida, Juan Antonio, et al. "Buckwheat bioactive compounds, their derived phenolic metabolites and their health benefits." Molecular nutrition & food research 61.7 (2017): 1600475.
- Krkošková, Bernadetta, and Zuzana Mrázová. "Prophylactic components of buckwheat." Food Research International 38.5 (2005): 561-568.
- Sytar, Oksana, et al. "The contribution of buckwheat genetic resources to health and dietary diversity." Current genomics 17.3 (2016): 193-206.
- Yang, Jin. "Application perspective of tartary buckwheat as sports supplements." Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research (Berlin) 6.3 (2014): 1239-1241.
- Yavuz, Hasan Ulaş, Husrev Turnagol, and Ali Haydar Demirel. "Pre-exercise arginine supplementation increases time to exhaustion in elite male wrestlers." Biology of sport 31.3 (2014): 187.