There are many known health benefits for many of the ingredients in this granola recipe, for example oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, cacao and cardamom but here we are going to highlight buckwheat.
Buckwheat, is often known for its unique pyramid shape and belongs to a group of foods called pseudocereals, which are seeds consumed in the same way as cereals. Other popular pseudocereals are for example quinoa, chia seeds and amaranth. There exist up to nine varieties of buckwheat but the to most consumed are; tartary buckwheat and common buckwheat and you can buy them either toasted or raw. And even though the name suggests otherwise, buckwheat is not related to wheat and is thus gluten-free.
Buckwheat contains a range of nutrients including bioactive carbohydrates and proteins, polyphenols, phytosterols, vitamins, carotenoids, and minerals. The unique composition of buckwheat contributes to the many health benefits that are attributed to buckwheat such as lowering cholesterol, improvement of hypertension (1, 2) possessing prebiotic activities as well as its anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic effects (3, 4).
Buckwheat (or buckwheat groats) mainly consist of carbs. They also contain 13 grams of protein per 100 grams, and have a well balanced amino acid composition, containing the essential amino acids lysine, threonine and tryptophan and the semi-essential amino acid arginine, making buckwheat a quality protein source (5).
Additionally, buckwheat is richer in minerals than many common cereals. The most abundant minerals are magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, iron and zinc. Compared to other grains, the minerals in cooked buckwheat groats are particularly well absorbed due to a relatively low amounts of phytic acid, which inhibits absorption of minerals in most grains (6).
Furthermore, buckwheat scores low to medium on the glycemic index (7) and should therefore not cause unhealthy spikes in blood sugar levels.
Buckwheat is rich in various bioactive compounds, such as D-chiro-inositol, proteins, and flavonoids (mainly rutin and quercetin), which may be partially responsible for many of its health benefits.
D-chiro-inositol, a soluble carbohydrate, has for example been shown in animal studies to help moderate the rise in blood sugar after meals (8) and may be beneficial in the management of diabetes (9, 10). Rutin, an antioxidant, however has been linked to decreased inflammation and reduced blood pressure, prevent the formation of blood clots and studies have shown that it improved blood lipid levels (lowered the LDL levels known as the bad cholesterol and increased the HDL levels known as the good cholesterol) and lowered the risk of cancer (2, 11, 12, 13, 14). And quercetin, also an antioxidant, may have a variety of beneficial health effects, including lowering the risk of cancer and heart disease (15, 16).
Chocolate, cardamom & buckwheat granola
I make this granola almost every weekend to have enough for the coming week. One of the best thing about making it is that you can use almost any seeds or nuts in it, just what you have in your cupboard. I find it a good way to finish the ingredients that I have already, both to save space and money. Then the rule of thumb is to keep the dry and the wet ingredients in as similar amounts as they are in the original recipe.
Serves: 25-30 portions
- Dry ingredients
- 230 g buckwheat
- 270 g rolled oats*
- 60-70 g desiccated coconut or coconut flakes
- 100 g sunflower seeds
- 100-150 g nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans)
- 25 g sesame seeds, optional
- 50 g cacao powder
- 40-50 g sugar (raw cane sugar, coconut sugar or any other sugar will work)
- ½ tsk cardamom powder
- ¼-1/2 tsk salt
- Wet ingredients
- 90 g oil (coconut oil or any other, preferably with a mild flavour)
- 2 tbsp maple syrup or honey
- 25 g chia seeds, optional
- 15 g grounded flax seeds, optional
- Preheat oven to 160°C / 320°F.
- In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients: oats, buckwheat, coconut, sunflower seeds, nuts (roughly chopping them is optional), sesame seeds, cardamom, cacao, sugar and salt and stir to combine.
- If you are using coconut oil: melt the oil in a small saucepan over low-medium heat or put the coconut oil jar in a warm bowl of water for few minutes.
- Add the wet ingredients to the mixture: maple syrup (or honey) and the oil. Fold the mixture with a fork/spoon/spatula until it is fully coated.
- Spread mixture out in an even layer on a baking sheet with a parchment paper.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes and stir every 5-10 minutes, until toasted and crunchy. Since the granola is dark brown in color and thus challenging to see if it is ready or not, it is better to trust the smell to know if it is ready. It should have a pleasant (but burnt) aroma with a hint of chocolate and cardamom fragrant.
*If you are allergic to gluten (have celiac disease) then be sure to use gluten-free oats.
Serving size: 1 portion | Calories: 169 | Fat: 10 g | Carbohydrates: 16 g | Sugar: 3 g | Fiber: 3,5 g | Protein: 5 g |
- Zhang, H. W. et al. 2007. Comparison of hypertension, dyslipidaemia and hyperglycaemia between buckwheat seed-consuming and non-consuming Mongolian-Chinese populations in Inner Mongolia, China. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. Sep;34(9):838-44.
- He, J. et al. 1995. Oats and buckwheat intakes and cardiovascular disease risk factors in an ethnic minority of China. Am J Clin Nutr. Feb;61(2):366-72.
- Giménez-Bastida J. A. and Zieliński H. 2015. Buckwheat as a Functional Food and Its Effects on Health. J Agric Food Chem. 2015 Sep 16;63(36):7896-913
- Fan Zhu. 2016. Chemical composition and health effects of Tartary buckwheat. Food Chemistry July:203:231-245
- Juan Antonio Giménez-Bastida and Henryk Zieliński. 2015. Buckwheat as a Functional Food and Its Effects on Health. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2015, 63, 36, 7896-7913
- Steadman, K. J. 2001. Minerals, phytic acid, tannin and rutin in buckwheat seed milling fractions. J Sci Food Agric. 81 :1094-1100.
- The University of Sydney. 2017. Glycemic Index. http://www.glycemicindex.com/food (Accessed 2019-01-03).
- Ahmed, A., Khalid, N., Ahmad, A., Abbasi, N., Latif, M., & Randhawa, M. 2014. Phytochemicals and biofunctional properties of buckwheat: A review. The Journal of Agricultural Science, 152(3), 349-369.
- Hosaka, T. et al. 2011. Extracts of common buckwheat bran prevent sucrose digestion. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 57(6):441-5.
- Kawa, J. M. et al. 2003. Buckwheat concentrate reduces serum glucose in streptozotocin-diabetic rats. J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Dec 3;51(25):7287-91.
- Kreft, S., Knapp M, Kreft I. 1999. Extraction of rutin from buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentumMoench) seeds and determination by capillary electrophoresis. J Agric Food Chem. Nov;47(11):4649-52.
- P. Jiang, F. Burczynski, C. Campbell, G. Pierce, J.A. Austria, C.J. Briggs. 2007. Rutin and flavonoid contents in three buckwheat species Fagopyrum esculentum, F. tataricum, and F. homotropicum and their protective effects against lipid peroxidation. Food Research International. 40(3):356-364.
- Yang, N., Ren, G. 2008. Application of near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy to the evaluation of rutin and D-chiro-Inositol contents in tartary buckwheat. J Agric Food Chem. 56(3):761-4.
- Jasuja, R. et al. 2012. Protein disulfide isomerase inhibitors constitute a new class of antithrombotic agents. J Clin Invest. 122(6):2104-13.
- Larson, A. J. et al. 2012. Therapeutic potential of quercetin to decrease blood pressure: review of efficacy and mechanisms. Adv Nutr. 3(1):39-46.
- Lin, Y. et al. 2014. A dietary pattern rich in lignans, quercetin and resveratrol decreases the risk of oesophageal cancer. Br J Nutr. 112(12):2002-9.