Help your vessels in autumn with a buckwheat boostAutumn, with its clear skies and cool breezes, is a welcome relief from the brutal Korean summer. But it has a seamy side: Fall is one of the most likely times for strokes, because as the temperature drops blood vessels in the brain contract.
Eating buckwheat could help prevent diseases that originate in blood vessels, such as strokes, arteriosclerosis and high blood pressure. Buckwheat is a great source of rutin, also known as vitamin P. Rutin, a kind of polypenol, is also an antioxidant.
“[Rutin] slows aging in blood vessels by removing oxygen-free radicals in the blood,” said Lee Young-eun, a professor of food and nutrition at Wonkwang University.
The hardening of the arteries proceeded more slowly in mice that ate food rich in rutin, compared to those that didn’t, Ms. Lee said.
Rutin also makes capillary vessels stronger, by helping collagen fortify. Collagen plays a key role in keeping capillary vessels healthy. Rutin also lowers blood pressure by restraining angiotensin-2 from being secreted. If one eats too much salt or is under too much stress, angiotensin-2 is secreted, pushing up one’s blood pressure. Rutin is also helpful in preventing diabetes. It helps the pancreas produce insulin, the hormone that lowers blood sugar levels.
Unfortunately, however, rutin is not produced by internal organs. One needs 30 milligrams a day, and 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of buckwheat contains 100 milligrams of rutin.
Rutin is water-soluble, so boiled buckwheat still contains a great amount of rutin. It’s more effective if consumed with foods containing vitamin C, such as lemons, oranges and broccoli, because rutin produces more collagen when eaten with vitamin C.
Buckwheat is a vegetable, but its cereals are 12 percent protein, and if powdered, 13.5 percent. It also contains a large amount of lysine, a kind of amino acid that is hard to get from most vegetables.
It also has a great amount of fat (2.3 grams per 100 grams), most of which is unsaturated fat, which is good for blood vessels, said Seo Hyeon-chang, a professor of food and nutrition at Shingu College. “Unsaturated fat lowers blood cholesterol and prevents blood vessels from aging,” he added.
Buckwheat has 9.5 grams of fiber per 100 grams ― fiber also helps to lower blood cholesterol levels. According to a report of a research team in the biological systems engineering department at Kangwon National University, the cholesterol of mice that ate a buckwheat extract dropped, while their levels of good HDL cholesterol increased.
Buckwheat also has minerals, such as iron and magnesium, and vitamins, such as vitamin B1 and niacin. But it is relatively low in calorie compared with rice, wheat or barley.
It’s a long-time favorite of practitioners of Oriental medicine. “Bonchogangmok,” a Chinese medical book, says buckwheat makes the stomach healthy, the mind fresh and the “five viscera” clean, while also boosting one’s energy.
But it’s not good for everyone, and it has to be eaten safely. Most buckwheat is consumed in the form of cold noodles, which give some people stomach problems. Some people even start to feel dizzy after a bowl of buckwheat noodles.
The husk contains a toxin, so it’s good to eat it with radishes, which work as detoxicants. That’s why many recipes in Asia have combined the two ingredients.
by Park Tae-kyun
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