What Is Buckwheat Sprouts?
Buckwheat has made a resurgence, credited to an increased demand for gluten-free, ancient grains and to its outstanding nutritional profile, including high-quality protein, resistant starch (prebiotic), and low glycemic index.
Sprouting buckwheat takes these health benefits to a whole new level as it boosts the levels of bioactive compounds, proteins, and peptides that are responsible for therapeutic health benefits.
What is buckwheat?
Buckwheat cooks like grains, though it is not actually a grain. Technically it’s a fruit seed belonging to the rhubarb family, and is classified as a pseudocereal.
And contrary to how it sounds, buckwheat is gluten-free; it has no relation to wheat, making it suitable for people following gluten- or wheat-free diets.
Aside from buckwheat’s trendy gluten-free and grain-free properties, buckwheat is also in the spotlight as a functional food, a food that has health benefits beyond basic nutrition, yet is not essential for health. Functional foods are those that are linked with preventing or delaying age-related diseases such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, brain disorders, and cancer, which then become very appealing to health-conscious people.
Antinutrients are compounds in plant-based foods that reduce nutrient absorption, but serve as protection or storage devices for survival of the plant. Buckwheat has trypsin inhibitors and phytic acid, two types of antinutrients common in grains, nuts, seeds, and pulses (dried beans, lentils, dry peas, and chickpeas).
Trypsin inhibitors interfere with protein breakdown normally initiated by trypsin, an enzyme, in the small intestine. In buckwheat, trypsin inhibitors are heat stable and can cause poor digestion if not cooked properly.
Conversely, sprouting completely eliminates trypsin inhibitor activity, correlating with better protein digestibility. Sprouting buckwheat instead of cooking keeps buckwheat raw, thus, retains heat-sensitive nutrients, other enzymes, and antioxidant that are otherwise damaged by heat.
The other antinutrient in buckwheat, phytic acid, binds minerals. Without activated phytase, the enzyme that degrades phytic acid, iron, zinc, calcium, and magnesium are less available for absorption in the gut. Fortunately, sprouting (and fermenting) activates phytase. Buckwheat has high levels of phytic acid, yet it also is very high in phytase. Sprouting buckwheat activates phytase and reduces phytic acid considerably.
Anyone with gut issues, nutrient deficiencies, or people with higher nutrient requirements (i.e. pregnant women, young children, athletes, and vegetarians) would benefit from avoiding these antinutrients.
Lowers blood pressure
Hypertension is caused by high blood pressure, which is a silent killer related to heart disease and strokes. In 2019, The American Heart Association estimated 46% of U.S. adults had hypertension.
While high sodium intake is a risk factor for hypertension, Nepalese people in the Mustang District drink a traditional Tibetan tea, which is high in sodium, yet these people have very low prevalence of hypertension. Regular buckwheat consumption may be the secret.
Buckwheat has several blood pressure-lowering compounds, namely rutin, 2″-hydroxynicotianamine, and GABA, Hulled buckwheat has the lowest rutin out of all the parts of the buckwheat plant; however, sprouting buckwheat causes up to three-fold increase of this compound alone.
For example, hypertensive rats given extracts from buckwheat sprouts or buckwheat seeds for 5 weeks showed more reduction in systolic blood pressure than that from buckwheat seeds.
Another study gave fermented buckwheat sprouts to hypertensive rats and found they also reduced blood pressure. Fermented buckwheat sprouts had new, highly potent blood pressure lowering peptides that were not in buckwheat groats to begin with. Fermenting the sprouts additionally increased the level of GABA and tyrosine, antihypertensive compounds already present in buckwheat.
Actual blood pressure-lowering effects of buckwheat sprouts as food has not yet been demonstrated, but the test tube and animal studies seem convincing.
Balances blood sugar levels
Buckwheat groats have a low glycemic index. This means carbohydrates in buckwheat are slowly digested, absorbed, and metabolized; the corresponding rise in blood sugar levels is slower and lower than other carbohydrate-containing foods.
A low glycemic index diet has advantages for diabetes, acne, polycystic ovarian syndrome, weight loss.
In a study in which participants had bread made from buckwheat and wheat flour compared to only wheat flour, those with the buckwheat flour mix had lower blood sugar and insulin response following consumption.
The two compounds in buckwheat that have a track record for their role in diabetes management are rutin and D-chiro-inositol.
Rutin is believed to remove sugar from the blood by increasing uptake into the liver, as shown in rats. For people with glucose intolerance or insulin resistance (as in the case of many people with diabetes), this is often impaired and sugar stays in the blood. Rutin in buckwheat therefore is thought to have an insulin-like effect, helping sugar in the blood go into cells.
Since sprouting buckwheat can increase rutin up to 3-fold, sprouting may deliver better blood sugar lowering effects.
Similarly, D-chiro-inositol extract was also found to lower blood sugar along with inflammatory and blood fat parameters related to diabetes complications.
Not all studies show similar blood sugar lowing effects from rutin and D-chiro-inositol in buckwheat. Overall blood sugar management may come from fullness hormonal after eating buckwheat. Consuming buckwheat products, especially whole buckwheat groats, increased hormones that make people feel full. It’s assumed that feeling full leads to eating less, meaning better weight management and better blood sugar control.
Increase antioxidant activity
Given that all degenerative diseases and aging stem from oxidative stress, eating foods high in antioxidants are helpful in reducing this degrading stress on the body and lowering inflammation – two factors leading to DNA damage and cancer. Antioxidants even contribute to healthier blood vessels and the body’s ability to deal with the damage caused by high blood sugar.
Buckwheat doesn’t have to be sprouted for antioxidant effects. People consuming buckwheat honey and buckwheat-enriched wheat bread were found to have increases the total antioxidant status in plasma.
Even though non-sprouted buckwheat has antioxidant activity, sprouting buckwheat has more.
Sprouting for 3-9 days yields even higher antioxidant activity than non-sprouted buckwheat, because sprouting increases enzymes that then increase levels of bioactive compounds (phenolics and flavonoids), including rutin. One study showed that rutin levels peaked after 9 days of sprouting, while other antioxidants peaked at 5 days and others at 7.
Depending on the type of buckwheat, it’s possible for antioxidant-rich compounds to level off after the third day of sprouting.
Sprouted grains are great for your health. They have higher levels of beneficial nutrients and disease-fighting compounds compared to their unsprouted form. However, sprouted grains must be eaten quickly because they do not keep or store well. 8 Buckwheat Sprouts Benefits:
Preventing type 2 diabetes
Reducing chronic inflammation
Reducing blood pressure
This article will show you the many benefits of this sprouted grain, specifically delving into 8 buckwheat sprout benefits.
Germinated buckwheat is high in antioxidants
Antioxidants are so good for you. They can turn dangerous free oxygen radicals from our metabolic cycle into harmless compounds, preventing diseases like cancer. Phenols are a type of antioxidant found in buckwheat. Researchers found that buckwheat soaked and sprouted was very high in dietary phenols, making them extremely healthy for you.
Sprouted buckwheat is higher in amino acids
Amino acids are an essential part of our diet because they form the building blocks of our tissues, muscles, and organs. Think of amino acids like Lego pieces that are put together to form the entire body part. Our body uses amino acids for repairing damage, building new tissues (like muscles), and many other functions. Sprouting buckwheat before you eat it means higher counts of those essential amino acids.
Buckwheat is high in a variety of nutrients
Micronutrients can be difficult to get enough because they aren’t as obvious as carbohydrates, proteins, and other macronutrients. Buckwheat can provide you with iron -needed for oxygen delivery to our body, and other functions-, zinc -needed for protein synthesis, DNA formation, and proper immune function-, magnesium -needed for muscle and nerve function, and blood pressure regulation-, and many others. Sprouting your buckwheat might increase the amount of these micronutrients compared to unsprouted grains.
Also amaranth sprouts contain several nutrients.
Buckwheat sprouts can lower cholesterol and cardiovascular disease risk
In hamster studies, buckwheat sprouts reduced the blood cholesterol level of the animals. Researchers suggest this could be because of the high levels of bioactive compounds in sprouted buckwheat, but it is unclear which are responsible for the effect. In two human clinical trials, buckwheat was found to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, showing its potential to reduce cardiovascular disease risk.
Buckwheat sprouts have antidiabetic effects
Diabetic mice fed buckwheat sprouts had less oxidative stress and improved liver health as a result. Researchers suggest various activities this sprouted grain may have, including primarily antioxidant effects, but many of these are still being investigated. Buckwheat might protect organs and prevent damaging oxidative effects that can lead to diseases like cancer.
Buckwheat sprouts can prevent inflammation
Inflammation is good for recruiting reparative cells to damaged tissue and pathogen-fighting immune cells to the site of an infection. However, when inflammation becomes chronic, damage and resultant health problems are a concern. Look no further than buckwheat sprouts to help you avoid these inflammation problems. Buckwheat inhibits pro-inflammatory mediators that bring inflammatory cells to a specific part of your body and possess some potential to reduce chronic inflammation. Much work remains in this field, but this study is a promising start.
Buckwheat is high in healthy fatty acids
Depending on the soil, buckwheat’s fatty acid profile can change, but they are always high in certain fatty acids. Palmitic oil, linoleic acids, and many others can be found in buckwheat, sprouted or not. These fatty acids have functions in maintaining our energy, immune system, and overall organ health.
Fermented buckwheat can improve your health even more
You can boost your buckwheat health potential by fermenting the grains. This increases the number of lactic acid bacteria and helps regulate your gut bacteria. Gut bacteria are essential for overall health, preventing infections, and keeping our digestive and immune systems healthy.
Sprouting takes a nut or seed that is dormant and brings it to life. You can watch as a food that has been sitting in a bag on a shelf for months begins to grow a little sprout and transforms. One of the easiest foods to sprout is buckwheat. Buckwheat becomes packed with live enzymes and vital nutrients when sprouted.
Sprouted buckwheat is an amazing food because it tastes like a grain but is actually gluten and wheat free and not a grain at all. It is one of the most complete sources of protein on the planet, containing all eight essential amino acids. This makes it perfect for diabetics and those who want to cut down on their sugary carbohydrates and to balance their blood sugar levels. It is also known to lower high blood pressure.
Sprouted buckwheat also cleanses the colon and alkalizes the body. Buckwheat is a wonderful super food for people who have varicose veins or hardening of the arteries. One of the reasons is that it is full of rutin, which is a compound that is known as a powerful capillary wall strengthener. When veins become weak, blood and fluids accumulate and leak into nearby tissues, which may cause varicose veins or hemorrhoids.
This healing food is also rich in lecithin, making it a wonderful cholesterol balancer because lecithin soaks up "bad" cholesterol and prevents it from being absorbed. Lecithin neutralizes toxins and purifies the lymphatic system, taking some of the load off of the liver. Sprouted buckwheat is also a brain boosting super food. 28% of the brain is actually made up of lecithin. Research suggests that regularly consuming foods rich in lecithin may actually prevent anxiety, depression, brain fog, mental fatigue and generally make the brain sharper and clearer.
Buckwheat is high in iron so it is a good blood builder. It also prevents osteoporosis because of its high boron and calcium levels. Sprouted buckwheat is high in bio-flavonoids and co-enzyme Q10. It contains all of the B vitamins, magnesium, manganese, and selenium, as well as many other health giving compounds.
Buckwheat is mainly composed of carbs. It also boasts a good amount of fiber and resistant starch, which may improve colon health. What’s more, it offers small amounts of high-quality protein.