Is Buckwheat Gluten-Free?

Find healthy (and gluten-free) sources of buckwheat

gluten-free buckwheat
Buckwheat is gluten-free. Ekaterina Minaeva/Getty Images

Buckwheat likely sounds scary if you're on the gluten-free diet. But despite its name, buckwheat is not wheat. It’s a seed rather than a grain and is gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

In fact, buckwheat and wheat come from completely different botanical families. Buckwheat seeds are technically the fruit of a plant called Fagopyrum esculentum, while wheat berries are the ripe seeds from plants in the genus  Triticum.

Although buckwheat is not a grain, it is sometimes referred to as a "pseudocereal." For processing into food, buckwheat seeds must first be dehulled. The remaining seed material, called groats, can be ground into flour. Roasted buckwheat groats are known as kasha. 

Safe Sources of Buckwheat

There are several different brands of buckwheat and kasha on the market. Not all buckwheat products are considered gluten-free. Although buckwheat is naturally gluten-free, it can be subject to significant gluten cross-contamination while it's being grown and processed.

However, these three brands should be safe for those of us who are gluten-free:

  • Arrowhead Mills buckwheat groats and flour. These are certified gluten-free, meaning they should contain less than 10 parts per million of gluten (less is better). Arrowhead Mills also offers a buckwheat-based gluten-free cereal: Organic Maple Buckwheat Flakes. They suggest using the flour for making soba noodles and pancakes.
  • Birkett Mills/Pocono buckwheat products. Birkett Mills offers a variety of buckwheat products ranging from whole groats to pancake mix and cream of buckwheat cereal. Although the company also processes wheat, its buckwheat is processed on dedicated equipment in a self-contained mill. The grain shipments are also cleaned prior to processing to remove any stray gluten grains. Birkett Mills says it tests to ensure buckwheat products contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten (the legal limit).
  • Bob's Red Mill buckwheat groats and organic whole-grain kasha. You'll find these products online and in stores that carry a full array of Bob's gluten-free products. The company processes its gluten-free products in a separate facility that also processes gluten-free oats, and tests the products to ensure they contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. However, read the label with care as some of their buckwheat products are not gluten-free. Be sure to look for the gluten-free mark. Their buckwheat flour is not gluten-free.

Why Eat Buckwheat?

You can use buckwheat flour in cooking. Buckwheat groats can be used as a hot breakfast cereal, or as a substitute for rice or pasta in some dishes. Soba noodles are traditionally made from buckwheat flour.

There are plenty of good reasons to eat buckwheat. It's high in protein and B vitamins and rich in phosphorus, potassium, iron, calcium, and lysine.

Buckwheat is also a good source of fiber: a one-cup serving of cooked buckwheat groats provides 17 grams of dietary fiber (you should get 25 to 35 grams of fiber every day). It also contains 22 grams of protein. Since getting enough fiber when you can't eat gluten can be problematic, buckwheat can help.

There's even some preliminary evidence that buckwheat can help to lower cholesterol levels.

Source:

Tomotake H, Kayashita J, Kato N. Hypolipidemic activity of common (Fagopyrum esculentumMoench) and tartary (Fagopyrum tataricumGaertn.) buckwheat. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 2014;95(10):1963-1967. doi:10.1002/jsfa.6981.

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