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Buckwheat likely sounds scary if you're on the gluten-free diet. But despite its name, buckwheat is not wheat. It’s a seed rather than a grain and is gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
In fact, buckwheat and wheat come from completely different botanical families. Buckwheat seeds are technically the fruit of a plant called Fagopyrum esculentum, while wheat berries are the ripe seeds from plants in the genus Triticum.
Although buckwheat is not a grain, it is sometimes referred to as a "pseudocereal." For processing into food, buckwheat seeds must first be dehulled. The remaining seed material, called groats, can be ground into flour. Roasted buckwheat groats are known as kasha.
Did you know that buckwheat groats are safe to eat if you have celiac? The name is somewhat confusing, isn't it? After all, wheat is off-limits on a gluten-free diet.
But actually they have nothing to do with wheat, and are instead a relative of the rhubarb and duckweed (yes, the leaves you use if you get stung by a nettle)!
Buckwheat plants are quick growing and their flowers are a magnet for honey bees, who then produce a delicious, dark buckwheat honey.
There is even a use for the discarded hulls (outer layer) - organic buckwheat pillows. These are great if you suffer from headaches, neck pain, sleep issues or snoring!
But it is the seeds that we are mainly interested in here.
One use for the fresh seeds is to sprout them, just like alfalfa or mung beans.
Are You Eating Buckwheat?
Buckwheat may be one of the healthiest foods you’re not eating. Along with numerous health benefits, it is tasty, easy to prepare, and inexpensive. Here are some things I love about it:
Buckwheat is not a grain
Many who are trying to avoid grains find themselves limited to fruit and sweet potatoes as sources of good carbs. Even though it’s often included in lists of grains, buckwheat is not a grain as it is not a grass. Instead, buckwheat is related to sorrel, knotweed, and rhubarb. Because its seeds are eaten, it is referred to as a pseudocereal.
Buckwheat is gluten-free
Because it is neither a grain nor related to wheat, buckwheat is gluten-free and safe for those with coeliac disease and gluten sensitivities. Studies show that even in high concentrations, buckwheat flour, and its purified proteins have no immunologic reactions for patients with coeliac disease.