Buckwheat was originally grown in Asia but is now also grown in North America. It has likely been grown in China since approximately 1000 BC. Buckwheat is not a cereal but a gluten-free knot grass. Buckwheat flowers are smooth-textured and white to light pink, and they bloom from midsummer to early fall. Buckwheat seeds ripen from August to October.
Buckwheat flour is used in cereal, pancakes, noodles, and bread. Other traditionally consumed parts of the plant include raw or cooked buckwheat leaves, raw or cooked seeds, and sprouted seeds. The grain can also be used to brew beer.
Nutritionally, buckwheat is of interest because of its protein, fiber, and fatty acid composition and its gluten-free nature. Also, buckwheat consumption is associated with beneficial levels of cardiovascular disease risk factors. Buckwheat is also a source of dietary flavonoids, such as rutin and quercetin, which may offer health benefits.
Clinical trials suggest that buckwheat consumption may help reduce leg volume in individuals with chronic venous insufficiency and help treat symptoms of diabetic retinopathy. However, more evidence is required in these and other areas, including its proposed blood sugar-lowering and cholesterol-lowering effects.
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These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Chronic venous insufficiency
Preliminary research suggests that buckwheat tea prevents an increase in leg volume in this population. More evidence is required before conclusions can be made.
Preliminary research suggests that buckwheat herb may be helpful in patients with diabetic retinopathy. More evidence is required before conclusions can be made.
There is conflicting evidence regarding the effects of buckwheat on blood lipids. More evidence is required before conclusions can be made.