Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Health Benefits of Gluten Free Buckwheat Noodles

Buckwheat is a fruit seed harvested from the buckwheat plant, and it does not, as the name may imply, contain wheat or the gluten protein. Buckwheat is a wheat free grain. The seed can be ground into buckwheat flour and used to make buckwheat noodles, sometimes referred to as soba noodles. Buckwheat noodles have numerous health benefits due to its high content of flavonoids, vitamins and minerals, and to its pre-biotic activity.

Buckwheat contains high concentrations of vitamins B1 and B2, along with the minerals manganese, tryptophan and magnesium. Compared to rice, buckwheat noodles contain approximately twice the proteins. None of these proteins, however, are the gluten protein. Buckwheat noodles, made without wheat flour, provide protein, vitamins and minerals in high concentrations to those who suffer from celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

Rutin, a flavanoid compound, is also found in buckwheat. Rutin aids in blood flow, which in turn keeps blood platelets from forming. This results in lower levels of LDL, otherwise known as bad cholesterol.

Omega 3 is a fatty acid that aids in cellular growth and function as well as cognitive function. Buckwheat noodles contain pre-biotics that “spur” probiotic action. These compounds create a friendly environment within your gut so good bacteria can flourish, otherwise known as gut flora. When good bacteria is present in the gut, digestion and liver function improve, bad cholesterol is more easily processed as waste, and valuable fatty acids are formed, such as omega 3. Other wheat-based noodles such as wheat pasta may not stimulate probiotics into producing healthy gut flora and subsequently omega 3 fatty acids.

Though fiber is usually associated with wheat products such as bread, wheat-free buckwheat noodles provide fiber without the presence of the gluten protein. The fiber found in buckwheat noodles aids in digestion as well as lowering fat levels in the blood stream. By reducing the amount of fat that enters the blood stream, fiber essentially cleanses the system, thereby reducing cholesterol levels. Buckwheat noodles provide fiber without the fillers found in bread.

Though ideal for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, gluten free buckwheat noodles provide more health benefits than many wheat noodles or pastas. And just as a fun fact- gluten free buckwheat noodles have a high concentration of choline. Choline has the unusual characteristic of neutralizing the negative effects of alchohol; it helps the liver process excess alcohol. So if you over-indulge, a bowl of buckwheat noodles may help that hangover.