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Dr K K Aggarwal

Navratra: Time to eat buckwheat flour

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Navratra is the time when wheat flour is omitted from the diet and substituted it with buckwheat flour or kuttu ka aata. Buckwheat is not a cereal grain; it is a fruit and hence is a good substitute for Navratra fasts where cereals are prohibited.

  1. The flour is extremely high in protein and is a wonderful substitute for those who are allergic to gluten (found in wheat).
  2. It is good for patients with celiac disease as it is gluten-free.
  3. It contains phytonutrient rutin, which lowers cholesterol and blood pressure.
  4. It is rich in magnesium, vitamin B, iron, calcium, folate, zinc, copper, manganese and phosphorus.
  5. As the buckwheat hulls are hard to chew, traditionally they are soaked for about six hours and then cooked to make them softer and easily digestible.
  6. It also contains alpha linolenic acid, which increases HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) and controls LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol).
  7. It is a good source of insoluble fiber and prevents occurrences of gallbladder stones. According to the American Journal of Gastroenterology, a 5 % increase in the insoluble fiber intake results in a 10% reduced risk of gall-bladder stones.
  8. Kuttu is 75% of complex carbohydrates and 25% of high quality protein, which makes it an ideal food for weight loss.
  9. As the flour is gluten-free, a potato is used to bind the flour together.
  10. The flour tastes different.
  11. Pooris made from kuttu flour are crunchier than the normal wheat flour pooris.
  12. One should not make pooris with hydrogenated oils or vanaspati as it will take away all the medical benefits of buckwheat flour.
  13. Buckwheat flour however is subjected to adulteration.
  14. Mixtures of rye flour, Indian corn flour, wheat flour, and other ground cereals are often used as a substitute for buckwheat.
  15. Being high in fiber and low glycemic index it is good substitute for diabetic patients. The glycemic index for buck wheat is 47 (Low GI foods have a GI value less than 55; medium GI foods have a GI value between 55 and 69 and high GI foods have GI value greater than 70).
  16. The chiro-inositol present in buckwheat has been identified as the diabetes preventing component.
  17. Asthma symptoms can occur in sensitized children when food allergens such as buckwheat are cooked in a confined area. Both acute and late-phase respiratory symptoms are seen.
  18. Eat kuttu ki roti instead of poori or pakodas (fried items) made from kuttu atta (buckwheat flour).
  19. One can also prepare idlis from kuttu atta (buckwheat flour) and dosa from the samak rice (non grain seed)
  20. Food poisoning may occur if flour left over from the previous year is reused.

In Navratre fast one need to omit wheat flour from the diet and substitute it with buckwheat flour (kuttu flour) or water chestnut (Singhara flour). Singhara is not a cereal but a fruit and hence a good substitute for a Navratre fasts where cereals are not to be eaten.

1. Singhara flour is prepared from Singhara or Water Chestnut.
2. Singhara is floating annual aquatic plants, growing in slow-moving water up to 5 meters deep. The plant bear ornately shaped fruits containing a single very large starchy seed.
3. The seeds or nuts are boiled and sold as street side snack or eaten raw.
4. The flour is made from dried, ground water chestnuts. The nuts are boiled, peeled, dried then ground into flour. The flour is bright white fine powder; it is actually a starch rather than flour.
5. The flour is primarily use as a thickener.
6. The flour is used as a food in Navratre and consumed as a falahaar (fruit) diet.
7. It is an excellent source of energy and provides 115 kcals per 100g.
8. The glycemic Index for chestnut is 60. Low GI foods have a GI value less than 55; medium GI foods have a GI value between 55 and 69 and high GI foods have GI value greater than 70.
9. Chestnuts are relatively low in net carbs (total carbohydrate minus dietary fiber). It is included in many low carb diets.
10. A gluten free product, chestnut flour is a cooking option for people with celiac disease or other gluten intolerances or allergies.
11. Chestnuts do not contain the fat that regular nuts have.
12. It contains less carbohydrate than white flour.
13. People with tree nut allergies should take care to avoid chestnut flour. It may cause an allergic reaction.
14. Flour made from chestnuts is typically more difficult to locate in many areas as well as more expensive than white flour.
15. One should not eat deep fried chestnut flour pooris of parantha
16. One should not use transfats vegetables oils to cook chestnut flour made bread
17. One should buy only branded flour as left over flour of last year can lead to food poisoning
18. As per Ayurveda chestnut flour has cool and buckwheat flour has hot properties.
19. Both chestnut flour and buckwheat flours can be combined
20. One should eat falahaar once a week and atleast 80 days in a year.