Kasha – The Benefits of Buckwheat

Amanda Filipowicz, CNP, BES
Kasha in a bowl - Buckwheat

Perhaps you have enjoyed buckwheat in the form of cold soba noodles with a dashi based dipping sauce, maybe you’ve had a classic french crepe made with buckwheat flour, or perhaps your childhood consisted of lots of kasha served with stew. Buckwheat in recent years seems to be making a comeback. Its production fell over the past few decades, and now with the age of healthy functional foods its been sought after by many. Who can blame them? Kasha is a gluten-free cereal grain, packed with protein, amino acids, and tons of phenolic compounds. It’s a versatile and amazing functional food.

Nutritional Constituents of Buckwheat

Buckwheat, like other pseudocereals (aka – gluten-free dicotyledonous grain) such as quinoa and amaranth, is primarily composed of starch. It is however also a complete source of protein, containing all essential amino acids, although it’s protein is not well digested. Rich in various phenolic compounds, it is a great antioxidant, promoting heart and lung health (Alonso-Miravalles, L., et al., 2018).

Starch

Starch, the main component in buckwheat, forms semi-crystalline structures known as “starch granules”. These granules vary in size, shape, and amylose; amylopectin ratio. These variations are influenced by the environment and conditions the grain is grown in as well as the variety (ex. Common versus Tartary buckwheat) (Alonso-Miravalles, L., et al., 2018).

Starch is a great source of energy, but it is also a beneficial nutrient for gut microflora. In studies on rats when buckwheat was added into the diet, there was an increase in the prevalence of Lactobacillus Plantarum, bifidobacterial spp, and bifidobacterium lactis. This study has shown that buckwheat can act as a great prebiotic food for the microflora in our digestive tract (Wronkowska, M., et al., 2010).

Protein

There are many things that make buckwheat a functional food, one of them is its protein content and the presence of all nine essential amino acids. Buckwheat is richer in protein than rice, wheat, sorghum, and maize. However, the 13-15% protein that is present in the seed (some studies accounting for 8.5-19% (Wrokowska, M., et al., 2010)), is not very digestible due to the presence of protease and trypsin inhibitors, fiber and tannins (Jacquemart, A-L., et al., 2012). Although tannins in buckwheat may inhibit protein digestion, studies have found that tannins present in food, such as walnuts, almond, and buckwheat to name a few, increase antioxidant activity (Wronkowska, M., et al., 2010).

All amino acids are represented equally, except two, l-lysine and l-arginine. Lysine levels are much higher than other amino acids, especially with respect to other cereal grains. L-arginine is also found in a substantial amount in buckwheat, providing a benefit for boosting the immune system, wound healing, and growth hormone release (Wronkowska, M., et al., 2010).

The protein content in buckwheat does differ between varieties of the cereal grain, however, it is strongly affected by pesticide and fertilizer usage (ibid).

Essential Fatty Acids

Fats in buckwheat are mainly short-chain fatty acids – including; palmitic acid, oleic acid, and linoleic acid. They account for approximatly 3% of the composition of the seed (Eggum, B.O., et al., 1980). Long-chain fatty acids are also present (Jacquemart, A-L., et al., 2012). 80% of buckwheat is composed of unsaturated fatty acids, 40% of which is made of polyunsaturated fats such as linoleic acid (Wronkowska, M., et al., 2010).

The Vitamin and Minerals found in Buckwheat

Buckwheat is richer in zinc, copper, and manganese compared to other cereal grains. It also contains selenium, vitamin C, and is an abundant source of vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B6. Phytate found in the protein bodies of embryo and aleurone cells in buckwheat is storage for phosphorus, potassium, magnesium as well as other microelements (Steadman, K.J., et al., 2001) (Zhou, X., et al., 2015) (Jacquemart, A-L., et al., 2012). Per 100g of buckwheat one can find 450 mg of potassium, 390 mg of magnesium, 330 mg of phosphorus, 110 mg of calcium, 4 mg of iron, 3.4 mg of manganese, and 0.8 mg of zinc (Huda, N., et al., 2021). The zinc content in buckwheat is surprisingly 2.6 times greater than in other cereals (eds. Zhou, M., et al., 2016).

Phenolic Compounds Present in Buckwheat

Buckwheat is antioxidant-rich. It contains tocopherol and phenolic compounds which include; 3-flavanoids, flavonol, phytosterols, fagopyrin, rutin, phenolic acid, and flavonoids (Krkoskova, B., et al., 2005). Flavonoids are responsible for the taste, color, and smell of plant life, as well as nutritional benefits. The flavonoids in buckwheat have numerous health properties including, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antioxidant (Dietrych-Szostak, D., 2006). A major subgroup of flavonoids, flavones can be found in all parts of the plant. These compounds include orientin, vitexin, isovitexin, and isoorientin (Huda, N., et al., 2021). There are also twenty-four flavanones present in buckwheat. These flavanones include; afzelechin, hesperetin, and butein. Buckwheat honey contains the largest amount of hesperetin which has been shown in studies on mice to aid in reducing liver and DNA damage caused by carbon tetrachloride (HUda, N., et al., 2021).

Buckwheat is the only crop that contains rutin, a bioflavonoid, (quercetin-3-rutinoside) in high amounts. Rutin is a glycoside the connects to the flavonol quercetin and the disaccharide rutinose. It accounts for 2-10% of the dry weight of buckwheat most of which is found within the pericarp with a smaller fraction found within the albumin. The inflorescence and aerial organs of buckwheat actually contain the highest amount of rutin, approximatly 100x more rutin that the buckwheat seeds. The leaves and flowers can be used to make tea, which would provide a fair amount of rutin. Ruin is phenomenal at limiting blood platelet coagulation, protects LDL against oxidation, and elevating angiotensin I activity – aids in controlling blood pressure (Eds. Zhou, M., et al., 2016) (Jacquemart, A-L., et al., 2012).

Flavonoids which are present in all plants are responsible for providing the taste, color, and smell of the plant. They also contain phenomenal nutritional benefits such as; antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antioxidant benefits. Rutin is the primary flavonoid in buckwheat (Dietrych-Szostak, D., 2005). Tartary buckwheat has been shown to contain 100x more rutin than common buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum Moench) groats (Suzuki, T., et al., 2016).

Toxins in Buckwheat

Buckwheat, a rich source of flavonoids, also contains several antinutrients. These include; protease inhibitors, lipase inhibitors, amylase inhibitors, phytic acid, oxalic acid, and oxalates. These antinutrients interfere with the absorption of amino acids and essential nutrients. Sprouting inhibits the function of various antinutrients, although they are not eliminated completely. Therefore sprouting buckwheat groats prior to cooking can make a big difference in nutrient absorption, especially if it is used as one of the main protein sources in a diet (Rauf, M., et al., 2019).

Fogopyrin is a phototoxic found mainly in the hull of the seed although small amounts can be found within groats. The dehulling of groats eliminate some of it, whereas steaming the groats reduces fagopyrin within the seed. However, it may be present in bran and buckwheat flour (Glava, K., et al., 2017).

Health Benefits of Buckwheat

Buckwheat is Rich in Antioxidants and Phenolic Compounds

Buckwheat contains numerous antioxidant and phenolic compounds such as tocopherols, 3-flavonols, flavonol, rutin, phenolic acid, and flavonoids (Jacquemart, A-L., et al., 2012). Studies on liver health and buckwheat consumption showed a reduction in intracellular peroxide production as well as a decrease in superoxide anions within cells. This reduction in cellular oxidative stress is primarily tied to the presence of quercetin in buckwheat (Yilmaz, H.O., et al., 2018).

Buckwheat Rich in D-chiro-inositol – Beneficial for Women with PCOS

Insulin resistance is an indication of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), medication such as metformin has been effective at treating PCOS, however, it has some serious gastrointestinal effects. PCOS can result in ovarian imbalance, infertility, menstrual irregularity, and hormonal imbalance (Davinelli, S., et al., 2020). If it is within your ability the first line of treatment should be lifestyle and dietary modifications under the guidance of a health care professional.

D-chiro-inositol, a stereoisomer naturally found in buckwheat has been shown to aid in improving insulin resistance. Studies have shown that inositol increases peak progesterone and luteal ratios, as well as improving ovulation and reducing hyperandrogenism in women with PCOS. For women experiencing hormonal acne, supplementation of inositol can also be effective (Amoah-Arko, A., et al., 2017) (Davinelli, S., et al., 2020).

Studies have found that supplementation of 500mg-1200mg of D-chiro-inositol daily for the course of 6-8 weeks showed improvement in ovulation function, decreases in serum androgen concentrations, decreases in blood pressure as well as hormonal balance (Davinelli, S., et al., 2020).

Apart from affecting hormones, PCOS also increases reactive oxygen species which elevates inflammation systemically. Studies showed 1000mg of D-chiro-inositol helped with decreasing reactive oxygen species production within the ovarian follicular fluid (ibid). This reduction of systemic inflammation and the prevention of oxidative damage was seen beyond individuals with PCOS. The addition of buckwheat into the diet, through kasha, tea, or buckwheat flour, can provide great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits for all individuals (Cheng, F., et al., 2019).

High in Rutin – the Pharmacological Value of Buckwheat

Buckwheat is the only cereal that contains rutin (quercetin-3-rutinoside) within its seeds. Rutin content differs between species of buckwheat, Tartary buckwheat containing the most of this antioxidant. Although the seeds of buckwheat contain rutin, they are not the richest source for the nutrient within the plant. The inflorescence and aerial organs of the pseudocereal contain 100x more rutin than the seeds. Though uncommon, buckwheat leaves and flowers can be consumed as a tea. This is a great way to increase rutin intake, however, fresh levels have higher rutin content that dried leaves (Park, C.H., et al., 2000). Rutin further displays its benefits by being protective of buckwheat itself, by diminishing the effects of UV radiation, cold weather, and pests. There is a potential that rutin’s protective aspect against UV radiation may be applied to humans, though more studies need to be conducted (Kreft, I., et al., 2020).

The rutin content may have an impact on the color of buckwheat groats. A greener color implies a higher ruin content within the seed. This is more visible in light-colored kasha and fresh seeds than in roasted kasha. Tartary buckwheat exhibits this difference in color, however, common buckwheat with higher rutin content will have a slightly greener tinge. This may be because rutin content developing in the pseudocereal is dependant on ecological and geographical conditions. An example is soil nutrition and health. Soil rich in copper, zinc, and cadmium produces crops with higher counts of rutin (Eds. Zhou, M., et al., 2016).

Rutin has numerous positive benefits as part of a diet or daily supplement. As a nutrient, rutin reduces blood vessel weakness, inflammation, platelet coagulation, and oxidative stress and damage in the body. As part of a diet, it can aid in reducing blood pressure and balancing cholesterol levels (Jacquemart, A-L., et al., 2012). Studies on rutin have shown its promising application in the prevention and reduction of capillary deformation which can occur as a result of hemorrhagic diseases and hypertension (Yilmaz, H.O., et al., 2018).

Buckwheat’s Hypocholesterolemic Effect

An increase in cholesterol levels in the body can occur for various reasons, constipation and a lack of fiber is one such reason. Constipation reduces the elimination of excess cholesterol by the body allowing instead for it to reabsorb. The body doesn’t stop producing more, resulting in time to excess cholesterol in the body. A diet low in antioxidants and you have higher chances of oxidating cholesterol which can lead to plaquing. Buckwheat reduces serum cholesterol levels by increasing fecal excretion of sterols, this occurs by the binding of sterols to undigested protein molecules. The protein content in buckwheat is poorly digested by the body, due to the presence of tannins, trypsin inhibitors, and fiber. This leaves protein to bind to sterols (Kreft, I., et al., 2020). Other studies on mice, buckwheat was shown to reduce the absorption of sterols by the digestive lining, increase sterol elimination from the body as well as increased liver cell activity (Yilmaz, H.O., et al., 2018).

A 2014 study looked into swiss albino mice and the effects of rutin and quercetin on cholesterol levels, antioxidants found in abundance in buckwheat. There were three study groups, the first had a standard diet (the control), the second group of mice was given a high cholesterol diet, while the third was given a high cholesterol diet with the addition of quercetin and rutin (100 mg per kg of body weight). The mice fed only the high cholesterol diet gained weight, had an increase in serum cholesterol levels, inflammation, and hepatic fat accumulation. The group of mice fed quercetin and rutin experienced no weight gain or rise in their lipid levels, however, they did have a decrease in their inflammatory markers in their body. The addition of quercetin and rutin in the diet had a positive effect on cholesterol, heart health, and reduction in inflammation (Sikder, K., et al.).

A 2011 study looked at the effects of buckwheat on cholesterol levels of female daycare center staff. The women were divided into two groups, both of which consumed buckwheat cookies, the one difference being that the first group consumed common buckwheat cookies, while the other Tartary cookies. The common buckwheat provided them with 16.5 mg of rutin, whereas the Tartary gave them 359.7 mg. After a two week period, the group switched cookies for the following two weeks. Over the course of the month-long study, several markers were monitored such as those related to cardiovascular disease, lower airway inflammation, lung function, and breathing difficulty. The cookies made with Tartary buckwheat flour proved to be more benefical at reducing serum cholesterol levels and inflammatory markers. However, both cookies aided in reducing cholesterol and improving lung function (Wielander, G., et al.).

Low Blood Pressure Effects of Buckwheat Consumption

The high rutin and quercetin content in buckwheat, primarily Tartary buckwheat aids in regulating renin-angiotensin systems in the body. These hormonal systems aid in regulating and balancing blood pressure, fluids, and electrolytes. Apart from reducing blood pressures, the pseudocereal aids in minimizing oxidative stress, which can benefit arterial endothelial cells that line the inner walls of large arteries and veins (Yilmaz, H.O., et al., 2018).

Buckwheat may aid in the Prevention of Gallstones

Due to buckwheats high fiber and indigestible protein counts, it may be beneficial in preventing the formation of gallstones as well as decrease the prevalence of constipation (as long as sufficient water intake it also factored in) (Jacquemart, A-L., et al., 2012) (Eds. Zhou, M., et al., 2016 – pages 169-176).

Buckwheat and Blood Sugar Balance – Benefit for Type II Diabetics

Type II diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease that affects around 30 million Americas and approximately half a billion people globally. This form of diabetes occurs for two reasons, either the pancreas is producing an insufficient amount of insulin, or the body is not able to utilize the insulin that is being produced due to poor receptors. Genetics, environmental factors, and diet all play into the development of diabetes. Although genetics can’t be altered, environmental factors and especially diet can be adjusted.

In a dietary study comparing wheat flour to buckwheat flour, the later was more benefical at balancing blood sugar levels. Buckwheat flour contains a high amount of fiber and protein. This makes digestion take longer in the GI tract compared to wheat. The presence of certain anti-nutrients such as polyphenols and enzyme inhibitors additionally delay digestion, providing further benefit for blood sugar balance (Yilmaz, H.O., et al., 2018).

Phytochemicals rutin and quercetin, present in buckwheat, reduce insulin resistance by increasing the activity of hepatic antioxidant enzymes. It is characteristic of diabetes mellitus to increase the production of free radicals and oxidative stress in the body, which can further insulin sensitivity. The antioxidant profile in buckwheat aids in mitigating these effects (ibid).

A study that looked into the effects of Tartary buckwheat on type 2 diabetic patients found that over a four week period its consumption aided in decreasing fasting insulin and improving glucose tolerance (ibid).

A 2012 study examined improvements in insulin resistance in diabetic mice. The mice were fed a diet that contained Tartary buckwheat, a variety that has significantly higher stores of rutin than common buckwheat. The study concluded that the consumption of buckwheat aided in improving insulin signaling, as well as reducing insulin resistance mainly due to the presence of the antioxidant rutin. Mice were found to have less glucose and insulin circulating in their bloodstream unnecessarily after the experiment (Lee, C-C., et al.,).

Buckwheat Cultivation, Production and Region

Buckwheat is a cereal grain part of the Polygonaceae family. It is more closely related to dock, rhubarb, and sorrel then it is to wheat. Growing on cold plateaus and mountainous areas (Zhou, X., 2015), it is a low maintenance crop, tolerating poor and acidic conditions well, although it grows best in well-draining, sandy soil. The crop germinates within 4-5 days. It is not affected much by weeds and disease is very rare though it can occur as a result of a fungus (Jacquemart, A-L., et al., 2012).

Originating in Southeast Asia (most likely in Sanjiang County, China), the wild ancestor to Fagopyrum esculentum, was most likely a perennial buckwheat Fagopyrum dibotrys. Domestication began in China around 4000-5000 years ago, through further cultivation varieties such as Tartary buckwheat and the v-shaped or notched buckwheat arose (Yasui, Y., 2020) (Eds. Zhou, M., et al., 2016).

The spread of buckwheat seems to have followed the silk road. Through Tibet and the Himalayan region, buckwheat moved into India and Pakistan. Northern China delivered buckwheat into Japan. The first trace of buckwheat in Europe goes back to 3500 years. However, it was not until the Middle Ages – 15th century, that buckwheat production truly began, starting with Germany and branching out, beginning with Southern Europe and then a century later moving Northward to England and Northern France(Jacquemart, A-L., et al., 2012) (Yasui, Y., 2020).

By the 17th century, it was bound for North and South America as well as Southern Africa as an import. Due to buckwheat’s global spread, and being a low maintenance crop, hundreds of varieties were cultivated at local levels through gene selection (Jacquemart, A-L., et al., 2012).

In the 1960s wheat production was 44 times more than that of buckwheat. Wheat was far easier to utilize as a cereal grain, from noodles to baked goods and pastries. Its production only increased over the decades, resulting in China’s production of buckwheat to decrease by 20% from the 1980s to 2010. Global production of buckwheat also stagnated during this time, after which its production once again increased with the recognition of buckwheat as a functional food. Production in China remains the highest today, producing about 37.6% of the world’s production. Russia produces 22% following in suit by 9% produced by Ukraine, 8% by France, 6% by the USA, and 5% produced by Poland (Jacquemart, A-L., et al., 2012).

Buckwheat Flour

Buckwheat flour is used globally in the creation of numerous cultural dishes. In Korea, it is used to make naengmyeon noodles, as well as a jelly cake known as memil-muk. In Russia, the flour is subsequently used to make pancakes, known as blinis. Italians use buckwheat flour to make a special pasta by the name of pizzoccheri.

Made from buckwheat groats, buckwheat flour is gluten-free, making it great for those with celiacs disease. It is not the easiest to make bread from, as it is not glutenous. The nutritional value of the flour depends on the type of seed tissue used in the milling process. Light flours will contain primarily the central endosperm of the grain, whereas the bran will consist of seed coat and embryo tissue (Steadman, K.J., et al., 2001).

Buckwheat flour is often used in combination with wheat flour to make bread and noodles. Soba, Japanese buckwheat noodles can be made with buckwheat flour alone or a combination of buckwheat and wheat flour (Jacquemart, A-L., et al., 2012).

Baking does reduce the rutin and quercetin content in buckwheat. A study found that baking with 100% Tartary buckwheat flour, the rutin, and quercetin content of the flour was significantly decreased (Vogrincic, M., et al., 2010). Baking with buckwheat flour also converts rutin into quercetin. This occurs by scolding the flour with boiling water or through enzyme activity (Kreft, I., et al., 2020).

Bran buckwheat flour contains 40% fiber due to the presence of pericarp, 25% of which is water-soluble. It is also a rich source of phytates, such as; phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and other microelements (Steadman, K.J., et al., 2001).

Light and Dark Kasha

Whole buckwheat seeds can be consumed when roasted. These seeds are known as kasha or groats. Depending on the dehulling and roasting process you can either have a light brown or dark brown groat. The flavonoid content decreases in groats when the processing is too strong. This can be the result of intense dehulling temperature and longer roasting time. Rutin and isovitexin will still be present, however, their content will be greatly decreased (Dietrych-Szostak, D., 2005).

To produce a light-colored kasha or groat the opening process for dehulling the seed needs to increase from 100-150C and is maintained for 10-20 minutes. The moisture content in buckwheat is increased by 22%. There is no roasting done to a lighter colored grout.

To produce a darker colored kasha, that we may be more familiar with, the dehulling process is the same as is done with light-colored kasha. The roasting process begins with a warm-up of a maintained temperature of between 100-120 for two hours and the end of the roasting is done at a temperature of 115C to produce a groat with 13% moisture content. The extended roasting process does reduce the flavonoid content in buckwheat (Dietrych-Szostak, D., 2005).

Buckwheat Sprouts

Buckwheat seeds take between 2-10 days to sprout. The vitamin C content in buckwheat sprouts is 30 times higher than in the cooked groats. The lysine content in sprouts also increases significantly (Jacquemart, A-L., et al., 2012). Buckwheat sprouts contain various flavonoids, such as orientin, vitexin, isovitexin, rutin, quercetin, and isoorientin (Yilmaz, H.O., et al., 2018). They are also a great source of linoleic acid and contain 4x as many amino acids as are found in the seeds of the plant. These sprouts are also a great source of lysine, GABA, and sulfur (Kim, S-L., et al., 2004).

Sprouting activates several dormant enzymes as well as inhibiting the function of various anti-nutrients, such as phytic acid that can hinder the absorption of nutrients. Sprouting increases polyphenol counts and antioxidants present within the seeds. Growth traits for sprouts vary slightly between common and Tartary buckwheat. Although the rutin and quercetin levels are much higher in Tartary buckwheat, common buckwheat is far easier to sprout as it has larger seeds and better growth traits in higher, leaf size, dry and fresh shoot weight (Rauf, M., et al., 2019).

Buckwheat Honey

Buckwheat is one of the main monofloral honey’s produced globally, making it very common in beekeeping practices. Per hector of buckwheat, approximatly 400 kg of honey and 56 kg of bee pollen are produced. The honey the buckwheat produces is dark-colored (which has led it to be known as ‘black honey’), slightly spicy in flavor, and has various therapeutic benefits (Jiang, L., et al., 2020)(Wronkowska, M., et al., 2010).

Buckwheat honey is high in antioxidants, enzymes, vitamin C, and phenolic substances (Jacquemart, A-L., et al., 2012) (Yilamaz, H.O., et al., 2018). The main phenolic compounds in buckwheat honey are gallic acid and p-coumaric acid, other phenolic compounds include caffeic acid, protocatechuic acid, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, p-hydroxyphenyl acetic acid, syringic acid, and ferulic acid (Jiang, L., et al., 2020).

Traditional Chinese Medicine used Buckwheat honey for thousands of years as a digestive aid. Modern research has shown that the carbohydrate structure of buckwheat honey, which contains approximatly 10% oligosaccharides (which do not digest in the large intestine) may benefit gastrointestinal microflora biodiversity. Studies have shown an increase in the growth of good bacteria with the consumption of buckwheat honey (Jiang, L., et al., 2020).

Buckwheat flowers only open in the morning hours. The flowers are a rich source of flavonoids and antioxidants, specifically rutin. Buckwheat honey is commonly used in the making of mead and baking (Wronkowska, M., et al., 2010).

Common Buckwheat Vs. Tartary Buckwheat

The difference between common buckwheat and Tartary buckwheat is slight. However, when it comes to phenolic compounds, such as rutin, Tartary buckwheat contains far more than common buckwheat (Yilmaz, H.O., et al., 2018). By comparison, common buckwheat contains approximatly 0.07 mg of rutin per gram of buckwheat groats, whereas Tartary buckwheat contains 24 mg per gram or groats (Eds. Zhou, M., et al., 2016) (Kreft, I., et al., 2020).

Tartary buckwheat provides more antioxidants, it is more beneficial in reducing free radical damage and oxidative stress as well as possessing superoxide anion clearing activity when compared with common buckwheat.

Nutritional Security of Buckwheat

Nutritional security is different from food security.  Food security is characterized by the availability and access to food for all people; whereas nutritional security requires the intake of a wide range of whole foods so as to provide the essential needed nutrients to sustain a healthy life. Buckwheat is a whole food that aids in providing nutritional security for the Himalayan regions, China, the Republic of Kazakhstan, and numerous other countries. This is due to its complete amino acid profile, antioxidant, and other phenolic compounds as well as fatty acid profile (Golijan, J., et al., 2019) (Ospanov, A., et al., 2018).

Buckwheat Allergies

Buckwheat is a growing health food globally, however, there is an increase in allergic reactions, primarily in Asia and Europe. The ingestion of a small amount can result in varying allergic reactions, which is dependant on the individual. I myself have experienced a slight allergic reaction (systemic inflammation, and waking up the next day to eyes so puffy I could not open them up) on the few occasions I have made crepes with 100% buckwheat flour. I don’t have issues with kasha, or buckwheat soba, so perhaps it may have been the processing.

Buckwheat allergies are IgE mediated. The first recorded incident of a buckwheat allergy took place in 1909 by Smith H.L., who indicated that his patient has experienced an allergic reaction immediately after the intake of buckwheat (Heffler, E., et al., 2014). There has since been an increase in cases and studies. A 1998 epidemiological study taking place in Japan looked at a subject group of approximatly 92,600 children, of which 194 were shown to experience allergic symptoms when consuming buckwheat. The most common symptoms seen where hives and trouble breathing. Anaphylaxis made up only 3.9 % of the affected group of children (ibid).

A 2002 study looked at patients with positive buckwheat-specific IgE antibodies. The 24-kD protein, possesses major allergen reactions to IgE antibodies present in serum from almost all subjects in the study, regardless of symptoms. 16-kD and 19-kD proteins were also found to attach to IgE antibodies in nine of ten patients in the study with immediate hypersensitivity to buckwheat. When treated with pepsin, an enzyme that aids in protein digestion, 19kD, and 24kD were successfully broken down, whereas 16kD remained undigested allowing it to bind to IgE antibodies (Tanaka, K., et al., 2002). What this means for an individual who may have a slight sensitivity to buckwheat, prior to a meal with the pseudocereal, either take a digestive enzyme to aid in the breakdown of the grains proteins or a shot of bitter, apple cider vinegar or lemon to stimulate gastric juice secretion, which will include pepsin, by the stomach lining, as long as it does not pose any irritation for your gastrointestinal tract.

Storage of Buckwheat

Buckwheat should be stored in a cool dry place. Unless you are sprouting seeds, there should be no humidity as it will result in oxidation of the lipid profile of the seeds. Glass jars kept in a pantry or kitchen cupboard will work the best (Aleksandr, V., et al., 2014).

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