Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum Moench), which is a type of seed rather than a grain, is rich in phytochemicals, including rutin, isoquercitrin, quercetin, catechin, myricetin and various anthocyanins. Buckwheat is also a dietary source of enterolactone, niacin, zinc, copper, selenium, and manganese. Components of buckwheat have been found to have antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, antimutagenic, and antifungal properties. Consumption of buckwheat has been shown to reduce gut transit time compared to consumption of white rice, resulting in lower levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Consuming buckwheat may also reduce gallstone formation, reduce inflammation and contribute to blood sugar control. One animal study found that germinated buckwheat had potent anti-fatty liver activities.
A component of buckwheat has been shown to reduce proliferation of multiple myeloma cells. Rutin, a major active component of buckwheat, has been found to have anti-angiogenic activity against melanoma in mice, reducing the number of tumor-directed capillaries formed. Rutin also was found to inhibit the proliferation, migration and capillary-like tube formation of human endothelial cells.
Breast cancer-related effects of eating buckwheat
An extract of buckwheat hulls has been shown to have cytotoxic effects in human breast, liver and stomach cancer cells. A peptide of buckwheat seeds has been found to inhibit proliferation of liver and breast cancer cells, as well as leukemia cells. Tartary buckwheat (similar to buckwheat) has been found to have antiproliferative effects in human breast cancer cells. Buckwheat also has been shown to inhibit carcinogen-induced mammary tumors in laboratory rats by lowering circulating estrogen.
Quercetin has been shown to increase the effectveness of both Adriamycin (doxorubicin) and Taxol (paclitaxel) chemotherapy in multidrug resistant ER+/PR+ breast cancer cells, in part by eliminating cancer stem cells.
Postmenopausal women with breast cancer and a high intake of plant lignans such as enterolactone have been found to be less likely to die from their breast cancer than those with a low intake. Enterolactone has also been found to increase the sensitivity of breast cancer cells to radiation, thereby potentially enhancing the treatment effects of radiotherapy.
Rutin may reduce the cardiotoxic effects of Adriamycin.
Buckwheat honey has been found to be a better source of antioxidants than lighter-colored honeys. Japanese soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour.
Tartary buckwheat (Fagopyrum tataricum Gaertn.) is a type of buckwheat regularly consumed in China and parts of India. It has a phytochemical profile similar to common buckwheat, with somewhat more rutin and quercetin.
Below are links to recent studies concerning this food. For a list of studies that includes older research, please click on buckwheat.