Buckwheat is a high protein, high fiber, magnesium rich "grain-like" food eaten on the Body Ecology Diet (BED). Many people think that buckwheat is a cereal grain, but it is actually a fruit seed that is related to rhubarb and sorrel. It is similar in size to wheat kernels, but has a unique triangular shape. In order to be edible, the outer hull must be removed--a process that requires special milling equipment. Buckwheat is sold either unroasted or roasted (called "kasha"), Unroasted buckwheat has a soft, subtle flavor, while roasted buckwheat has more of an earthy, nutty taste. Its color ranges from tannish-pink to brown.
When researchers tested blood lipids of 805 Yi people of China where buckwheat is a popular food, 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 lipid-lowering activity is largely due to rutin and other flavonoid compounds. Flavonoids are phytochemicals that protect against disease by extending the action of vitamin C and acting as antioxidants. These compounds help maintain blood flow and prevent platelets from clotting excessively.
Buckwheat is one of the few 'grains' initially allowed on the Body Ecology Diet. (Remember: it is really a fruit seed that is high in protein yet provides us with a great source for fiber.)
We recommend soaking buckwheat for at least eight hours before cooking. It should be washed and rinsed thoroughly using a strainer. Add one part buckwheat to two parts boiling and salted water, vegetable or kombu broth. After the liquid has returned to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Buckwheat can also be sprouted to increase its' nutritional value, but avoid high amounts of buckwheat greens. Recent studies have shown that they contain a natural toxin called fagopyrin, which has caused a reaction in some people--a tingling in their hands or feet, and hypersensitivity to sunlight. As a result, areas of the skin may turn a pink or red tone and remain sensitive to hot, cold and friction for several days after the color disappears. However, smaller amounts of buckwheat greens are acceptable in the Body Ecology Diet and can be used as an ingredient in cultured veggies because fermentation negates the toxins.
Buckwheat is often served hot as a delicious, hearty breakfast cereal, but we also suggest serving it as a vegetarian evening meal. It is warming and excellent in the winter months. Be sure you have young coconut kefir or cultured veggies with your meal to help aid in digestion.
Anytime of the year, buckwheat is a great food to help your heart!
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