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The Healthy Food Guide team believe that making small diet and lifestyle changes brings the best long-term gains. We look at the science behind the headlines and promote a balanced way of eating.

Often mistaken for a cereal grain, this gluten-free seed comes with bumper health benefits. It’s a good stand-in for rice, and you can also buy it ground as a flour, to use in bread and pancake recipes

 

What is it?

Despite its name, buckwheat is unrelated to wheat and is, in fact, a highly nutritious fruit seed similar to quinoa and amaranth. Its versatility and good value make buckwheat popular beyond gluten-free diets, though. It contains protein and soluble fibre, and it’s rich in complex carbohydrates.
Make: Buckwheat, honey and nut muesli bars

How is it used?

Make your pancakes gluten free by using buckwheat flour. Or cook the whole seed (raw or toasted) and use as you would rice or in place of quinoa in salads. The taste is slightly bitter and nutty. You can also buy buckwheat pasta and noodles: soba noodles are widely used in Japanese stir-fries and salads (the Japanese name for buckwheat is soba).
Make: Grilled salmon and soba noodle salad

The nutrition benefits

Once you’ve got a taste for buckwheat, you’ll benefit from its essential nutrient content, which includes manganese, magnesium and copper. It’s loaded with soluble fibre, too – the type shown to lower blood sugar levels after meals, which is important for people with diabetes. And as it’s a source of protein, buckwheat is a good choice for those who follow a plant-based diet.
Make: Buckwheat and lemon pancakes

From the shop to your table

Check the label
Buckwheat is naturally gluten free, but some of its related products may contain gluten due to the way they’re processed, so always check on-pack labels.
Waitrose Love Life Buckwheat
£1.99/375g, Waitrose
waitrose-love-life-buckwheat
Nutritional information per 100g (cooked): 173kcal, 1.6g fat, 0.3g saturates, 0.1g sugars, 0g salt, 2.2g fibre
 
Orgran Buckwheat Pasta Spiral
£1.99/ 250g, Holland & Barrett, Amazon
buckwheat-spirals
Nutritional information per 100g (raw): 362kcal, 2.8g fat, 0.6g saturates, 2.5g sugars, 0g salt, 8.3g fibre
 
Rude Health Sprouted Buckwheat Flour
£4.99/ 500g, Ocado
rude-health
Nutritional information per 100g: 335kcal, 3g fat, 1g saturates, 3g sugars, 0g salt, 10g fibre
 
Related article: What are the benefits of tahini?
tahini