Is Buckwheat Paleo? (Is It Gluten-Free?)
With paleo diets, many food items are clearly unsuitable. Things like pizza, processed sugar, low-fat dairy, and the like are not paleo.
But then, food items like cheese, flaxseed oil, and buckwheat fall within a grey area. So, it is never clear if they are paleo or not.
Is buckwheat paleo?
Going by the technical definition of paleo foods, buckwheat may not be paleo. But then, buckwheat is natural, healthy, and full of beneficial nutrients, so it may qualify as paleo-friendly in some paleo diet versions.
There is more to the paleo-compatibility of buckwheat than we have highlighted above. So, in the rest of this article, we’ll go into all the details.
Is Buckwheat Paleo?
Technically, buckwheat is most likely not paleo.
The earliest evidence of buckwheat in the human diet came thousands of years after the Paleolithic era.
So, you can almost conclude that humans of the Paleolithic era did not eat buckwheat. And since paleo diets basically try to mimic the diet of the humans of the paleolithic era, one could say buckwheat is not paleo.
Apart from that, buckwheat is grain-like. And since grains are not a part of paleo diets, people sometimes exclude buckwheat from their paleo diet.
But then, the truth is buckwheat is actually a seed, not a grain. So, its exclusion from paleo diets based on its being a wheat is not correct. Basically, you shouldn’t exclude buckwheat from your paleo diet just because you think it is a grain like wheat.
While buckwheat does not conform to the strict definition of paleo, it passes as paleo for a couple of reasons. Buckwheat is a natural, healthy seed. Besides, it is something paleo humans could have eaten if it was available to them. So, in a broader sense, buckwheat is paleo.
Is it Gluten-Free?
Seeing that there is “wheat” in its name, one could assume that buckwheat contains gluten like regular wheat. But good news! Buckwheat is gluten-free.
Because it is gluten-free, buckwheat is one of the better alternatives to wheat. So, if you have a disease – like celiac disease – that keeps you from consuming gluten, you can opt for buckwheat.
Can I Add Buckwheat to My Paleo Diet?
You can add buckwheat to your paleo diet if you want. But then, it may or may not be the correct choice for you, depending on your situation.
For instance, adding it to your paleo diet is not ideal if you are allergic to buckwheat.
Buckwheat can cause reactions like asthma, itching, swelling, rashes, and anaphylactic shock in people who are allergic to it. So, if you have reacted to it once before, do not add it to your paleo diet.
Also, if you have leaky gut, buckwheat may not be OK for you. Buckwheat contains some antinutrients, which may contribute to leaky gut.
Then again, the potential of buckwheat to cause leaky gut is pretty low. So, if you do not have leaky gut already, adding buckwheat to your diet won’t be an issue.
Besides the possible downsides highlighted above, buckwheat has a lot of health benefits. So, if you think it is suitable for you after careful consideration, you can add it to your paleo diet.
Health Benefits of Buckwheat
As we have hinted already, buckwheat is pretty beneficial to the body. It offers various benefits, including the following.
Buckwheat Helps Heart Health
Buckwheat can help reduce your risk of high blood pressure and heart diseases.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), whole grains (like buckwheat) can help decrease cholesterol levels. A drop in cholesterol levels, in turn, reduces your risk of heart diseases, amongst other chronic diseases.
Buckwheat Might Help Diabetics
By reducing blood cholesterol levels, buckwheat also reduces your risk of diabetes. Apart from that, buckwheat has a low-glycemic index. So, it can help prevent blood-sugar spikes in people that have diabetes.
Apart from that, some mice studies show that buckwheat has some positive influence on insulin. So, it could potentially replicate similar effects in humans.
Buckwheat Can Help Gut Health
Buckwheat is chock-full of fiber, so you just know it is valuable to your gut. Because of its fiber content, buckwheat can help ensure healthy digestion. Beyond that, it could also help sustain beneficial gut bacteria.
Buckwheat Can Help Your Weight Loss Goals
While buckwheat is calorie-dense, it might help your weight loss routine. The fiber content of buckwheat can keep you full for extended periods, reducing your food cravings.
Apart from the fiber content, buckwheat has a lot of protein. Like fiber, protein makes you feel fuller faster. So, you are unlikely to consume excess calories with buckwheat in your diet.
Buckwheat Contains Antioxidants
Because of its antioxidant content, buckwheat can help protect your body from oxidative stress. Its antioxidants can neutralize free radicals before they affect your cells.
Buckwheat Is Generally Not Allergenic
Cases of buckwheat allergies are uncommon – even in people who are usually sensitive to foods. So, generally, buckwheat is a safe option for most people.
Other Potential Downsides of Buckwheat
We’ve mentioned the potential of buckwheat to trigger or worsen leaky gut and allergic reactions. But apart from those side effects, buckwheat has a few other potential downsides.
Buckwheat Is Calorie-Dense
Buckwheat packs a lot of calories. So, if you are looking to lose some weight, you should be mindful of how much buckwheat you eat.
As we said earlier, buckwheat promotes fullness and reduces cravings to help with weight loss. So, depending on how much of it you eat, it may make or mar your weight loss plans.
The Fiber in Buckwheat May Be Too Much
While the fiber content of buckwheat is a good thing because it helps gut health, it could also be problematic.
For one, if you eat too much buckwheat, the excess fiber you consume may cause a stomach ache. So, when eating buckwheat, take things slowly. Increase your portions gradually to avoid overloading your gut.
Ordinarily, fiber can help autoimmune diseases of the gut (such as Crohn’s disease). But then, too much fiber can also irritate the intestines in such conditions.
Buckwheat is not really paleo if you go by the strict definition of paleo foods. However, if you consider the inherent properties of buckwheat, it qualifies as paleo.