Yes, pure buckwheat is naturally gluten free. It may sound suspicious to someone with a gluten-related condition, as it has the word “wheat” in it. However, buckwheat is not related to wheat. In fact, its grain-like seeds are not even considered a true grain, but a pseudograin or pseudocereal. Surprisingly, it is actually closely related to rhubarb.
Note that as with any grain (or pseudograin in this case), I recommend to always read labels carefully and to make sure that it is labeled gluten free, as there is a high risk of cross-contact with gluten-containing grains. This can happen through crop rotation, harvesting, storing, transporting and processing. If it is labeled gluten free, it has to adhere to the FDA threshold of less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten, which is considered a safe concentration for people with celiac disease.
Buckwheat can be a great addition to the gluten-free diet. It is very nutritious, high in fiber, and rich in minerals, mainly: magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, copper, zinc and iron. It also contains vitamins B6, niacin, thiamin and folate, as well as high quality protein.
Buckwheat can be used in several ways, as a flour to boost the nutrients of baked goods, buckwheat grouts can be cooked and used as a nutritious alternative to rice, and cream of buckwheat is a great gluten-free hot cereal option loaded with fiber and nutrients.
US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Buckwheat Plant Guide. USDA Website: https://plants.usda.gov/DocumentLibrary/plantguide/pdf/pg_faes2.pdf Published September 2014, Revised March 2016.
US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Buckwheat Flour Whole Groat. USDA Website: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170687/nutrients Published April 1, 2019.
Note: This information is provided by NCA and Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN, NCA's Director of Education. This information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for personalized medical advice or replace any medical advice provided directly to you by your health care provider. No liability is assumed by the NCA or Katarina Mollo, MEd, RDN, LDN by providing this information.