Pseudocereals are trending – what is it about buckwheat and co.?

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Pseudocereals like quinoa, buck­wheat and amaranth continue to grow in popularity. The com­bi­nation of proteins, high-quality carbohydrates and essential fatty acids make the powerful seeds the ideal grain alternatives. Not only, but also, for people with allergies.

Pseudocereal – what is this?

The small seeds are found in muesli, baked goods and salads, and look like conventional grains – but they’re not. We’re talking about quinoa, buckwheat and amaranth. They’re called pseudo­cereals because they're often mistaken for conventional cereals and the two are easily confused. They are also cooked in a similar way to wheat, barley and maize. However, in botanical terms, they belong to other plant families.

How healthy are pseudocereals?

Pseudocereals provide our bodies with important nutrients and are undoubtedly very healthy. They’re packed with minerals and vitamins, and contain complex carbohydrates and valuable fibre. In addition, these unassuming seeds are not only a super source of protein but are also championed for their high levels of amino acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Since pseudocereals contain a lot of plant protein and minerals, they also form an important part of a vegetarian or vegan diet, and of diets followed by endurance athletes.

Nutritional value per 100g

Amaranth

  • Energy (Kcal): 385
  • Carbohydrates: 66g
  • Fibre: 9g
  • Protein: 14g
  • Fat: 7g
  • Minerals: Phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium, sulphur, chloride, sodium
  • Vitamins: B3, C, B5, B6, B2, E, B1, folic acid, B7

Nutritional value per 100g

Quinoa

  • Energy (Kcal): 355
  • Carbohydrates: 62g
  • Fibre: 7g
  • Protein: 12g
  • Fat: 6g
  • Minerals: Phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, chloride, sulphur, calcium, sodium
  • Vitamins: C, B3, B5, B1, B6, E, B9, B2, folic acid, B7

Nutritional value per 100g

Buckwheat

  • Energy (Kcal): 370
  • Carbohydrates: 71g
  • Fibre: 10g
  • Protein: 12g
  • Fat: 2g
  • Minerals: Zinc, manganese, copper, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron, sodium
  • Vitamins: B5, B3, E, B6, B1, B2, folic acid

Amaranth – power from the tropics

Amaranth can be put to a variety of uses in the kitchen. When cooked, the seeds acquire a porridge-like consistency which can be used as a filling for peppers or aubergines, added to stews or eaten for breakfast in combination with yoghurt and fruits. The young leaves can be cooked like spinach.

Amaranth originally comes from South and Central America. Its powerful properties were already known to the Incas and Aztecs and it is said to enhance mental and physical per­for­mance. It's even believed to delay the ageing process. Amaranth contains lecithin, which is beneficial to digestion as well as to the brain and nerve tissue. It contains all the essential amino acids such as the valuable lysine.

Trendy quinoa

Quinoa has experienced a boom in recent years like almost no other food. In the form of porridge, in poké bowls or added to soup, quinoa can be wonder­fully integrated into daily meals. The pseudocereal is also an ideal substitute for rice.

The trendy seed provides the body with valuable plant proteins, contains healthy fibre and all nine essential amino acids. Quinoa is particularly rich in lysine, which strengthens our muscle and connective tissue and is thought to prevent cancer from spreading. The unsaturated fatty acids guard against inflammation and disease, and the minerals manganese and copper protect red blood cells. Manganese also strengthens bones and helps the body to better metabolise carbohydrates. It is ideal for people with blood sugar and weight problems. The high magnesium content is also said to act against migraines.

Native pseudocereal: buckwheat

Buckwheat is the only native alternative to genuine cereals. It has a nutty tang and is very popular in wholefood cooking today. Buckwheat comes in the form of sprouts, whole seeds, groats, flakes and flour. 

While the lectins in ‘real’ wheat increase the risk of thromboses, strokes and heart attacks, these special proteins are missing in buckwheat. The chino-inositol regulates blood sugar levels, making it ideal for diabetics and anyone with high blood sugar levels. The rutin contained in buckwheat also reduces high blood pressure and combats varicose veins and haemorrhoids. Finally, its lecithin content helps regulate cholesterol levels and has even been said to prevent mental illness, such as depression.

Reservations from a health perspective

However, reservations towards the ‘superseeds’ exist. For example, the bitter compounds contained in quinoa can damage blood cells and irritate the intestinal mucosa. Particular caution must therefore be exercised in relation to children. For all others, the com­pounds known as saponins can be reduced by rinsing the seeds well before cooking.

In amaranth, there are certain tannins that are also found in conventional cereals such as millet. These bind vitamins and minerals and inhibit the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. With buckwheat, it is the husk which is critical as it can irritate the skin. Commercial products are therefore already husked.

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