What is Buckwheat?
Buckwheat is a triangular-shaped seed harvested from the flowering buckwheat plant. The seeds can be used whole (called ‘groats’) or ground into flour and used in baked goods.
Is Buckwheat Paleo?
Strictly speaking, no. The Paleolithic Era ended in 10,000 BP, while the first evidence of human buckwheat consumption was more than 7,000 years later.
Regardless of this stringent definition, some in the ancestral health community believe buckwheat can have a place in a broader Paleo template, depending on an individual’s unique health status and goals.
Can Buckwheat Prevent You from Reaching Your Goals?
Ask yourself this question: Why did you embark on a Paleo diet in the first place? If the reason was either a health issue (leaky gut, metabolic issues, autoimmune conditions, etc.) or a fat loss goal, including buckwheat may not be the best choice.
The anti-nutrients present in buckwheat (phytic acid, oxalates, and lectin, alpha-amylase, tryptin, enzyme, and protein protease inhibitors) can all contribute to leaky gut, allowing foreign proteins to cross into your body and trigger all manner of ailments.
If your goal is improved health, you may benefit from minimizing or avoiding foods that can compromise gut integrity.
In addition, phytic acid can reduce the body’s ability to absorb key minerals such as calcium, zinc, and iron.
If your goal is fat loss, then the high starch/high carb content in buckwheat may slow you down. With a glycemic load of 44, buckwheat can cause a steep rise in blood sugar and insulin levels, which is counterproductive to fat loss.
Can Buckwheat Fit into Your Paleo Template?
It’s true that since buckwheat is a seed, the detrimental impact on gut health is much less than that of grains such as wheat, oats, and rye. (Notice I said less.)
The potential for damage is further reduced by following the Weston A. Price protocol of soaking, sprouting, and drying the groats prior to using them either whole or grinding them into flour.
Therefore, if you have no underlying health conditions or fat loss goals, then you will have to discern for yourself whether (and how often) buckwheat can fit into your Paleo template.
Verdict: The ‘Buck’ Stops Here (I couldn’t resist)
While buckwheat is certainly a healthier alternative to grains (and maybe useful during the transition to a Paleo diet), it is not the healthiest alternative.
The foundation of the Paleo diet is to eat foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. This includes minimally processed and sustainably raised meat, wild caught fish, healthy fats, vegetables, tubers, fruit, nuts, and seeds.
Is this so that we can pretend to be exactly like our hunter-gatherer ancestors? No. The reason these foods are included is that their nutrient density support every aspect of our health and vitality.
Bottom line: If your goal is optimal health and body composition, your best bet is to focus on eating a nutrient dense Paleo diet with as few deviations (like buckwheat) as possible.
Verdict: Not Paleo
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