Buckwheat and Stomach Aches

If you’ve been on a gluten-free regimen before, then you may be familiar with buckwheat. Buckwheat is a dark gluten-free flour unrelated to wheat that is often used to create gluten-free foods. It is not actually a grain, but is the fruit of a leafy plant in the same family of rhubarb. This pseudo-cereal is considered low FODMAP in certain serving sizes. However, buckwheat can still cause digestive discomfort like stomach aches in some people. Let’s talk a bit about what buckwheat is, how you can eat it, and why it may cause digestive distress in some people.

All about buckwheat

Buckwheat flour is often used in recipes for gluten-free baked goods. However, it is often used in global foods such as Japanese soba noodles. Russian blini pancakes, and Italian hot porridge called polenta taragna are some examples of foods that contain buckwheat. Buckwheat flour is considered low FODMAP in a 2/3-cup serving, while cooked soba noodles are low FODMAP in a 1/3-cup serving size.

Besides buckwheat flour, buckwheat can also be consumed in groats form which comes in a white, unroasted form or a brown, roasted form. Groats are considered low FODMAP in a ¾ cup cooked serving.  Buckwheat flakes, which are finely ground groats, can be made into grits or hot cereals. This form of buckwheat is considered low FODMAP in a ½-cup serving.

Whatever form of buckwheat you decide to eat, there are many important nutrients to be had from this food source. Here is a short list of some of the nutrition facts about the various forms of buckwheat.

  • One cup of roasted cooked groats contains about 150 calories, 4.5 grams fiber, and nearly 6 grams protein as well as a good source of magnesium and phosphorus.
  • One cup of cooked soba noodles contains about 113 calories and nearly 6 grams of protein.
  • One cup of buckwheat flour contains about 400 calories, 12 grams of fiber, and 15 grams of protein.

Buckwheat is also a good source of several antioxidants. The major antioxidant in buckwheat is called rutin. Other antioxidants in buckwheat include quercetin, vitexin, and d-chiro inositol. These antioxidants can help reduce inflammation in the body and in turn reduce risk of chronic disease risk.

Possible buckwheat side effects

Buckwheat can cause allergic symptoms in some such as skin rashes, swelling, and digestive distress.  In severe cases, buckwheat can cause severe allergic shock in some that could impair breathing. Buckwheat allergies are more common in those who also have a reaction to rice or latex. This type of allergy is an example of an allergic cross-reactivity.

In milder cases, buckwheat may cause gas and bloating. This may be related to the high fiber content of buckwheat that your body may not be used to. In this case, just cut down your serving size and see if that helps with reduction of symptoms. And if you are sensitive to FODMAPs, be sure to adhere to the Monash-certified serving sizes listed above for each form of buckwheat to prevent symptoms.

Take home message

Although buckwheat is a gluten-free grain-like food, it does not mean that everyone is symptom-free eating it. Therefore, if you find that you experience any symptoms after consuming buckwheat, then be sure you visit a qualified healthcare provider to receive allergy testing.  In the meantime, avoid buckwheat after any symptoms and instead receive your fiber fix from low FODMAP fruits and vegetables like those listed on Casa de Sante’s low FODMAP shopping list. If you are able to consume buckwheat in smaller serving sizes though without symptoms, then do so since it is a heart healthy food that your body could benefit from.

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