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Are Buckwheat Groats a Source of Complete Protein?

Buckwheat is a Source of Complete Protein

Although buckwheat groats do not provide quite as much protein as quinoa, amaranth or oats, they are still a good plant-based source of protein. Indeed, one cup of uncooked buckwheat groats provides 19 grams of protein. This corresponds to nearly 40% of the Daily Value (DV) for protein! Obviously, you won't be eating uncooked buckwheat groats, so let's take a look at the protein content of cooked buckwheat groats as well: 5.7 grams (or 11% of the DV) per cup. With that value, buckwheat easily beats brown rice, corn, millet, and a number of other grains in terms of protein content.

Buckwheat is a Source of Complete Protein

But what makes buckwheat such a wonderful source of protein does not actually have much to do with the amount of protein found in buckwheat; it is the quality of the protein it contains that makes this super-healthy food stand out. Buckwheat contains all essential amino acids in substantial amounts, which makes buckwheat a source of so-called complete protein.

Essential amino acids are amino acids that cannot be synthesized by the human body and that we must therefore obtain through diet. People who eat meat on a regular basis usually get enough essential amino acids as meat is a source of complete protein. Vegans and vegetarians, by contrast, may lack one or more amino acids, and in such cases eating buckwheat can be of real help. In addition to eating plant-based sources of complete proteins such as buckwheat, vegans and vegetarians can improve the quality of protein their meals contain by combining foods with complementary amino acid profiles (e.g. eating beans with rice or corn with wheat).

Bodybuilders Take Note

If you're into bodybuilding and are looking to increase your dietary intake of protein in order to boost muscle growth, you'll probably be better off eating eggs and whey than buckwheat. The protein in eggs and whey is known to have a high digestibility score, while buckwheat groats – like most other grains and pseudograins – have a relatively low digestibility score.

Now, that doesn't mean that the protein in buckwheat has no health benefits. In fact, due to its low digestibility, buckwheat protein may offer health benefits similar to fiber such as protection against colon cancer and constipation relief.

Other Nutrients in Buckwheat Groats

In addition to containing all essential amino acids, buckwheat contains a slew of other nutrients. It is a particularly rich source of B vitamins (including thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, and pantothenic acid) and minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese, zinc, potassium, and selenium. It is also a surprisingly good source of iron, with one cup of cooked buckwheat groats providing 1.3 milligrams of iron (equivalent to 7% of the Daily Value for iron). Considering the impressive nutritional profile of buckwheat, it is not surprising that buckwheat has been associated with a whole host of health benefits. To learn more, check out the in-depth article Health Benefits of Eating Buckwheat Groats.


1. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) SR-21.
2. N. Kato, Kayashita J., and Sasaki M (2000). Physiological functions of buckwheat protein and sericin as resistant proteins. Journal of the Japanese Society of Nutrition and Food Science, 53(2), 71-75.
3. Zhihe Liu, Wakako Ishikawa, Xuxin Huang, et al (2001). A Buckwheat Protein Product Suppresses 1,2-Dimethylhydrazine-Induced Colon Carcinogenesis in Rats by Reducing Cell Proliferation. Journal of Nutrition, 131(6), 1850-1853.
4. Jun Kayashita, Iwao Shimaoka, Michikazu Yamazaki, and Norihisa Kato (1995). Buckwheat Protein Extract Ameliorates Atropine-Induced Constipation in Rats. Curr. Adv. Buckwheat Res., 2, 941-946.

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