Is Buckwheat Gluten-Free?

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 05/09/2024

Is buckwheat gluten-free? Yes, buckwheat is a gluten-free grain, and buckwheat flour is a common wheat alternative suitable for a gluten-free diet.


While buckwheat is gluten-free, it’s also high in carbs and not the best choice for those following keto. 


Discover how to use buckwheat and learn why consuming this wheat substitute may increase the risk of nutrient deficiencies.   


Raw buckwheat grains

What is buckwheat?


Buckwheat grains, also known as buckwheat groats, are triangular seeds harvested from buckwheat plants that are widely grown throughout Asia and Eastern Europe.


Despite its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat. It’s a pseudocereal as it is a seed but has a similar texture and nutritional profile to cereal grains such as wheat, barley, and oats. 


Buckwheat is a versatile ingredient that is used in a wide range of culinary applications. Popular buckwheat recipes include buckwheat pancakes, buckwheat porridge, and buckwheat noodles, commonly known as soba noodles. 


Compared to other grains, buckwheat has a high protein content and contains all nine essential amino acids in addition to dietary fiber, minerals, and phytochemicals. 


Watch the video below to find out why gluten-free doesn’t equal healthy on a ketogenic diet.

Is Gluten-Free Okay on a Ketogenic Diet?

Is buckwheat gluten-free?


Buckwheat is naturally gluten-free and safe for individuals with non-celiac gluten sensitivity and Celiac disease.


Buckwheat flour has a pleasant nutty flavor and similar texture to many gluten-containing grains, making it an excellent wheat flour alternative for gluten-free baking


While buckwheat is gluten-free, certain buckwheat-containing foods, such as buckwheat noodles or porridge, may also contain wheat flour, so it’s crucial to choose options that are certified gluten-free.    


Ketogenic diet foods

Is buckwheat keto-friendly?


Although buckwheat is gluten-free, it’s high in carbs and not considered keto-friendly. 


According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), one cup (170 grams) of buckwheat contains 105 grams of net carbs.


Because of its high-carb content, buckwheat can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels, which interferes with fat-burning and can quickly kick you out of ketosis.    


“Buckwheat isn’t suitable for keto. However, there are plenty of gluten-free flour alternatives on the keto food list that are safe on a low-carb diet,” explains Dr. Berg.


Here are some of the best gluten-free keto flours:

  • Almond flour

  • Sunflower seed flour

  • Coconut flour

  • Pecan flour

  • Flaxseed meal 

 

Woman with abdominal pain

Why you should avoid buckwheat


Although buckwheat is generally considered nutritious, it also contains phytic acid and oxalates, which can cause digestive issues and nutrient deficiencies.  


Phytic acid and oxalates are considered antinutrients as they can bind to minerals in the digestive tract. This binding can significantly reduce the absorption of minerals and lead to or exacerbate mineral deficiencies. 


Research published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology investigated the effects of phytic acid on nutrient absorption and concluded, “Phytic acid binds to minerals including iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, and manganese, and makes them unavailable due to its chelating property.”


In addition, oxalates readily form insoluble complexes with calcium, and a high intake of oxalate-rich foods can increase the risk of one of the most prevalent types of stones, calcium oxalate kidney stones


Most individuals can tolerate moderate amounts of buckwheat without experiencing digestive discomfort. 


However, high buckwheat consumption has been associated with intestinal issues, which may be especially problematic for individuals who regularly use buckwheat as a gluten-free alternative.    


Buckwheat is a rich source of dietary fiber, which is hard to digest and can trigger gas, bloating, and abdominal pain in sensitive individuals. 

Buckwheat grains

Key takeaways


Is buckwheat gluten-free? Yes, buckwheat is gluten-free and a popular alternative to wheat flour used in many gluten-free baking recipes. 


However, buckwheat is high in carbs and not a suitable gluten-free option for individuals following keto. In addition, buckwheat contains phytic acid, which can inhibit intestinal mineral absorption and trigger gastrointestinal issues.  



FAQ


1. Is buckwheat a type of wheat?

Despite its name, buckwheat isn’t a type of wheat. It’s actually a seed harvested from the buckwheat plant, which is closely related to rhubarb and sorrel.  


2. Is buckwheat gluten-free?

Buckwheat is naturally gluten-free and a suitable alternative to wheat flour for individuals with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance.   


3. Is buckwheat safe for those with celiac disease?

Yes, buckwheat is gluten-free and safe for those with Celiac disease. 


While buckwheat is naturally gluten-free, certain buckwheat products may contain gluten-containing ingredients, so it’s crucial to opt for products labeled gluten-free.  


4. Why shouldn’t I eat buckwheat?

Although buckwheat is an excellent source of protein, it also contains oxalates and phytic acid, two antinutrients that bind to minerals and interfere with their intestinal absorption. 


Regularly consuming buckwheat can increase the risk of mineral deficiencies and trigger gastrointestinal issues such as bloating, gas, and abdominal pain.   


5. Which grains are gluten-free?

Grains, including rice, millet, and sorghum are gluten-free. In addition, several grain-like seeds, such as quinoa, buckwheat, and amaranth, are naturally gluten-free and suitable for individuals on a gluten-free diet.  


6. Is buckwheat safe on keto?

Buckwheat is high in carbs and not safe on keto. One cup (170 grams) of buckwheat contains 105 grams of net carbs, which can cause rapid blood sugar and insulin spikes that interfere with fat-burning on keto. 



Sources


  1. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170286/nutrients

  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4325021/



Healthy Keto Guide for Beginner

FREE Keto Diet Plan