Scientific Name: Fagopyrum esculentum
Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) is a plant whose seeds have a grain-like texture and toasty, nutty flavor. Despite its name, buckwheat is not related to either wheat or grass but more like rhubarb, sorrel, and knotweed. Specifically, buckwheat is a pseudo-cereal (non-grass plants whose seeds are used like grains). Quinoa and amaranth are also common pseudo-cereals. Buckwheat originated from China, and is mainly grown in the northern hemisphere, especially in Russia, China, and Central and Eastern Europe.
Buckwheat is packed with fiber (36% daily value [DV]) and minerals, notably manganese (57% DV), magnesium (55% DV), copper (122% DV), and phosphorus (28% DV). The high fiber content in buckwheat helps with weight management, is important for digestive health, and reduces the risk of heart disease. In addition, manganese contributes to bone formation and metabolism. Magnesium in buckwheat is important for bone and heart health, as well as muscle/nerve function. Buckwheat also contains copper and phosphorus which participates in bone development and regulates heart rate.
Buckwheat also contains a variety of vitamins and antioxidants, especially riboflavin (33% DV) and niacin (44% DV). Riboflavin and niacin belong to the vitamin B family, which both create coenzymes that are crucial for energy metabolism. Niacin is necessary for digestive and skin health, as well as nerve function. Buckwheat has various uses. It can be dry roasted, soaked, and then cooked until tender; ground into a flour; or used in beverages (i.e., teas). Buckwheat flour is used in many dishes like soba (Japanese noodles), bread, buckwheat jelly, etc.
Fun fact: Since buckwheat is not related to wheat, it is gluten-free.