All of us in India are familiar with the word ‘KuttuKaAtta’, the most preferable cereal during fasts. This is nothing but ‘Buckwheat flour’. Since childhood, I have enjoyed various tasty dishes made out of Buckwheat flour but only during fasts. I always wondered why this particular grain is eaten only during fast and not round the year? But, it was only after I took Nutrition as a subject of specialization that I got my answers.
Buckwheat flour is very rich in protein and during fasts, except milk or its products, no other protein-rich food is allowed to eat. Only foods rich in carbohydrates and fats are the delicacies to be enjoyed during the time of fast. So to balance the meals with a good blend of carbohydrate, protein and fats and to fulfil the day’s protein requirement, buckwheat flour is eaten on fast days.
I sometimes wonder how intelligent our ancestors were who invented all these combinations to be eaten which is being followed by a tradition even today without knowing the reason. MAYBE THEY KNEW!! It is only after so much of scientific research on nutrition since the last two decades that we have got to know the facts of this wonder grain.
This wonderful cereal is packed with various nutrients providing amazing health benefits
- As mentioned above, it is very rich in protein as compared to other cereals with a biological value of above 90. This nominates it under ‘first class protein’ category and also due to its essential amino acid profile.
- It is rich in iron, a nutrient whose deficiency among women is maximum in the world. Other than iron, it also contains good quantities of magnesium, manganese, zinc and selenium which are needed for building immunity, strong bones, improving blood flow and maintaining the good texture of hair and skin.
- It contains appreciable amounts of B complex vitamins like niacin which is needed for the breakdown of carbohydrates and fats.
- It is loaded with dietary fibre which has a role in improving cholesterol and blood glucose levels.
- It contains health benefiting antioxidants too like polyphenols which gives protection from heart diseases, diabetes, various types of cancer and also delays ageing.
But the irony is, the consumption of this amazing cereal is only restricted during fasts. In spite of containing so many health-promoting nutrients, it has not been able to attain the status of a staple food in our country.
A country like India where diabetes and obesity have become epidemic and more and more population is getting diagnosed with ‘Metabolic syndrome’, a condition characterized by a cluster of health conditions such as central obesity, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, high triglyceride levels and low HDL levels. Apart from a sedentary lifestyle and excessive intake of junk food as the main reasons, I think the major culprit is our excessive intake of cereals especially rice which has very high carbohydrate content and less protein content. The habit of eating polished rice further adds to the havoc as polishing takes away all the vitamins and minerals present in rice.
So what, if we replace our rice intake with buckwheat, ‘the wonderful grain’?
Buckwheat is beneficial in various health conditions like diabetes, celiac disease, heart disease, anaemia and the list goes on. Buckwheat helps in managing blood glucose levels as it is rich in protein which promotes the synthesis of more insulin in the body. It is a boon for people suffering from celiac disease i.e. gluten intolerance since it does not contain gluten. It is beneficial for heart patients also because of its high antioxidant content. People suffering from anaemia can also be benefited from this cereal due to its high iron content. Buckwheat flour is widely available everywhere and is mostly consumed either as grains or flour.
Hence, after knowing amazing health benefits of buckwheat flour, I am sure you would like to add this cereal to your daily diet and will not only use it during fasts. Generally, everybody thinks that ‘HEALTHY FOOD DOES NOT taste GOOD’. But, I am sure this wonderful cereal would prove this statement wrong with its finger-licking taste.
For tasty recipes made of buckwheat flour, wait for my next blog! Till then HAPPY EATING!!