Buckwheat Nutrition Facts

Calories, Carbs, and Health Benefits of Buckwheat

Buckwheat annotated
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman  

Buckwheat is a popular grain alternative often found in cereal and in gluten-free baked goods. Contrary to its name, buckwheat is not really a form of wheat or grain at all. It is most closely related to rhubarb (a vegetable grown for its stalks and used in pies) and sorrel (a vegetable often featured in French cooking).

Buckwheat has multiple potential health benefits. Various compounds in buckwheat groats (kernels) and buckwheat flour may lower your blood sugar levels, and it even could help reduce your risk of serious conditions such as heart disease and colon cancer. When you eat buckwheat you consume the seeds of the plant which are rich in protein, insoluble fiber, and contain significant amounts of the important minerals copper, zinc, and manganese. 

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one cup (168g) of cooked buckwheat groats.

  • Calories: 155
  • Fat: 1g
  • Sodium: 6.7mg
  • Carbohydrates: 34g
  • Fiber: 4.5g
  • Sugars: 1.5g
  • Protein: 5.7g

Carbs in Buckwheat

Buckwheat is a low-fat food that contains a significant nutritional punch for its calorie content (155 calories for 1 cup of cooked buckwheat groats, which is enough for a bowl of hot cereal). As a grain alternative, buckwheat contains plenty of carbs: 34 grams in 1 cup of cooked buckwheat groats. Buckwheat flour contains around 44 grams in 1/2 cup. Buckwheat does not contain sugar; instead, its carbs come in the form of healthy fiber.

Fats in Buckwheat

Buckwheat contains a small amount of fat: about 1 gram per 1 cup of cooked buckwheat, with about 0.2 g of saturated fat. Most of the fat in buckwheat is in the form of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat, both of which are considered healthy types of fat.

Protein in Buckwheat

When it comes to protein content, buckwheat beats out many grains. Cooked buckwheat contains about 5.7 grams of protein per 1 cup (about twice as much protein as oatmeal). In addition, buckwheat's protein contains more of a certain type of amino acid (particularly lysine) than wheat and other grains. This is especially important because our bodies cannot produce lysine (one of the building blocks of protein), so we must get it from food.

Micronutrients in Buckwheat

You will also find vitamins and trace minerals in buckwheat including thiamin (helps the body turn carbs into energy), niacin (used in your digestive system, skin, and nerves), vitamin B6 (assists brain development and function), and folate (essential to make red blood cells).

Buckwheat also contains magnesium (maintains muscle health), phosphorus (used to form teeth and bones), zinc (important for your immune system), copper (helps the body manufacture collagen and absorb iron), and manganese (assists in building connective tissue and bones).

Notably, buckwheat happens to be the richest plant source of a compound called D-chiro inositol, which has been studied as a way to reduce blood sugar in people with diabetes and in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition that can lead to infertility. A specific type of buckwheat flour called farinetta is milled specifically to contain high levels of D-chiro inositol.

Health Benefits

High in Fiber

Like many grains and grain alternatives, buckwheat can add significant fiber—particularly insoluble fiber—to your diet. Foods high in fiber have been shown to potentially lower your risk of a vast array of serious conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and colon cancer. For people who are overweight, a high-fiber diet may help with weight loss. In addition, a high-fiber diet may help to alleviate certain digestive conditions, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), ulcers, constipation, and even hemorrhoids. Research shows that the benefits of a high-fiber diet apply to both adults and children.

Buckwheat contains mainly insoluble fiber. This is the type of fiber that does not dissolve in water, which means it remains mostly intact as it moves through your digestive tract. Insoluble fiber helps to bulk up your stool, which serves to keep you free of constipation and to lower your risk of diverticulitis, a condition that can lead to infection in your large intestine.

Buckwheat also contains a small amount of soluble fiber, which does dissolve in water and turns into a gelatinous substance that your body can digest. Soluble fiber is heart-healthy and has been shown to protect against many conditions, including diabetes and high cholesterol.

Medical authorities recommend that adults get between 20 and 35 grams of fiber per day. If you eat 3/4 cup of buckwheat groats as a hot cereal for breakfast, you are well on your way to meeting that total.

Resistant Starch

Finally, buckwheat—especially buckwheat groats, and to a lesser extent buckwheat flour—contains a third type of fiber known as resistant starch. This type of starch contains the benefits of both soluble and insoluble fiber, and it may help to make you feel fuller and more satisfied following a meal that is high in carbohydrates. Resistant starch may also help you control blood sugar and insulin levels.

The benefits of buckwheat were illustrated when researchers in one study divided subjects into three groups: one group consumed boiled whole grain buckwheat groats, a second group consumed bread made with half buckwheat flour and half processed wheat flour, and a third group consumed regular bread made from processed wheat. The study found that the first group that consumed the boiled whole grain buckwheat groats had the lowest spikes in insulin and blood sugar after eating, closely followed by the second group that consumed the bread made from 50% buckwheat flour. The third group that consumed the processed bread had the highest spikes in blood sugar and insulin.

Common Questions

What does buckwheat taste like?

Buckwheat has a nutty flavor that some people find bitter. Cooked buckwheat groats are similar in consistency and taste to steel-cut oatmeal.

Is buckwheat gluten-free?

Yes, pure buckwheat is gluten-free. In fact, buckwheat is often used to make products that are labeled gluten-free, particularly cereal. However, if you need to follow a gluten-free diet, you should not assume a food is gluten-free just because it happens to contain buckwheat—always read the ingredients label.

Is buckwheat recommended on the low-FODMAP diet?

Pure buckwheat is low in FODMAPs, which are types of carbohydrates (nutritionists frequently recommend foods low in FODMAPs for people who have irritable bowel syndrome).

Recipes and Preparation Tips

The simplest way to add buckwheat to your diet is to make hot cereal out of plain buckwheat groats. Most buckwheat groats will include an easy recipe right on the package, but you will likely need to soak your groats overnight in water and then cook them over high heat for a few minutes (follow the recipe on your specific buckwheat groats package for the best results). This hot cereal tastes great with some added milk and with a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg on top.

Once you have mastered plain buckwheat groats, change up your breakfast routine some with a recipe for maple pumpkin pie buckwheat groats (dairy-free and gluten-free). You also can use buckwheat flour to make banana and cocoa stuffed buckwheat crepes (a delicious dessert or brunch dish) and buckwheat waffles with fresh key lime curd (gluten-free and dairy-free).

Buckwheat is not just a breakfast food. Traditional Soba noodles, common in Japanese cuisine and served in soups or salads, are usually made from 100 percent buckwheat flour; however, they can also be made from part buckwheat flour and part wheat flour. This crunchy Soba noodle slaw is a great way to combine fresh vegetables, Soba noodles, and seasoning for a delicious side dish. You can also dress up some plain buckwheat groats with this slow cooker Moroccan beef stew recipe.

Allergies and Interactions

While it is possible to be allergic to buckwheat, it is considered rare. Buckwheat allergy symptoms can include hives, swelling of the tongue and lips, and difficulty breathing. If you are trying buckwheat for the first time and you experience these symptoms, seek medical help immediately.

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Article Sources

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