Are buckwheat noodles healthy?

Buckwheat noodles, also known as soba noodles, are a popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine. Made from buckwheat flour, soba noodles have a nutty, earthy flavor and can be served hot or cold. Many people believe soba noodles are a healthier alternative to traditional wheat noodles. But are buckwheat noodles actually healthy?

What are Buckwheat Noodles?

Buckwheat noodles, or soba noodles, originate from Japan. The noodles are made from buckwheat flour, also known as soba-ko flour. Buckwheat is not actually a type of wheat, but a fruit seed that is related to rhubarb and sorrel. The flour is milled from the seeds of the buckwheat plant.

Compared to wheat noodles, buckwheat noodles have a stronger, nuttier, earthy flavor. They also have a springier texture and brownish-gray color. Buckwheat noodles can be purchased dried or fresh and are prepared by boiling for a few minutes until al dente. They can be served hot or chilled with a dipping sauce.

In Japan, soba noodles are traditionally eaten on New Year’s Eve as a symbol of longevity and good health for the coming year. They are also commonly served in soups and stir fry dishes.

Nutritional Profile of Buckwheat Noodles

How do the nutrients in buckwheat noodles compare to traditional wheat noodles? Let’s take a look at the nutritional profiles of a 1 cup serving of each:

Nutrient Buckwheat Noodles Wheat Noodles
Calories 166 174
Carbohydrates 33g 37g
Fiber 2g 1g
Protein 5g 6g
Fat 1g 1g

As you can see, buckwheat and wheat noodles have a similar calorie, carbohydrate, protein, and fat profile per serving. However, buckwheat noodles contain higher amounts of fiber per serving compared to wheat noodles.

Benefits of Buckwheat Noodles

So why are buckwheat noodles considered a healthier choice by many? Let’s take a look at some of the top health benefits associated with buckwheat noodles:

Higher Fiber Content

The main advantage buckwheat noodles have over traditional wheat noodles is their higher fiber content. A 1 cup serving of cooked buckwheat noodles contains about 2 grams of fiber, compared to just 1 gram in wheat noodles.

Fiber has many beneficial effects on health. Studies show that higher fiber intakes are associated with lower risks of heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and certain types of cancer (1, 2).

Fiber functions by feeding the healthy bacteria in your intestines, which supports digestive health. It also slows digestion and helps control blood sugar levels (3).


Buckwheat noodles are naturally gluten-free, which makes them a good option for anyone who needs to avoid gluten. This includes those with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity or simply wanting to reduce gluten intake.

Following a gluten-free diet has been associated with health benefits like improved cholesterol levels, better gut health and enhanced immune function for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities (4).

Rich in Antioxidants

Buckwheat is high in antioxidants, including flavonoids like rutin. Test tube and animal studies have found buckwheat antioxidants may have a number of beneficial effects, such as lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation and decreasing blood sugar levels (5).

Antioxidants help defend your cells against damage from unstable molecules called free radicals. Accumulation of free radicals over time can accelerate aging and raise the risk of various chronic illnesses (6).

May Lower Blood Pressure

Several components of buckwheat may contribute to lower blood pressure levels, including:

  • Fiber
  • Antioxidants like rutin
  • Magnesium
  • Bioactive proteins that inhibit an enzyme called angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE)

Together, these compounds may lead to vasodilation, a widening of blood vessels that results in lower blood pressure (7).

Human studies have observed that eating buckwheat may lead to significant reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure (8).

Rich in Protein and Essential Amino Acids

Buckwheat noodles are higher in protein than many other gluten-free noodles. Just one cup of cooked buckwheat noodles provides around 5 grams of protein.

Additionally, buckwheat contains decent amounts of all nine essential amino acids necessary for human health. However, it is somewhat low in certain amino acids like lysine. For a more complete protein, combine buckwheat noodles with lysine-rich foods like legumes or animal proteins (9).

May Improve Blood Sugar Control

Buckwheat noodles have a low glycemic index, meaning they do not lead to large spikes or crashes in blood sugar levels. In fact, human studies have found that buckwheat can lower blood sugar levels in both healthy people and those with diabetes (10).

This blood sugar regulating effect is attributed to buckwheat’s fiber content, ability to slow carb digestion and high content of compounds like D-chiro inositol that improve insulin sensitivity (11).

Potential Downsides of Buckwheat Noodles

Buckwheat noodles are highly nutritious, but there are a few things to consider before adding them to your diet:

Contains FODMAPs

Buckwheat contains FODMAPs, which stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides and polyols. These are certain carbs that can be difficult to digest for some people and can cause unpleasant symptoms like gas, bloating and stomach pain.

Those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are often advised to follow a low FODMAP diet. If you have IBS or frequently experience digestive issues, buckwheat noodles may be best limited or avoided (12).

Allergy Risk

Although buckwheat is gluten-free, those with wheat allergies are often advised to avoid it as well since it may trigger symptoms. This is because buckwheat and wheat share similar proteins.

Additionally, buckwheat is related to rhubarb, so those with sensitivities to the oxalates found in rhubarb may want to avoid soba noodles as well.

Phytic Acid Content

Like other whole grains and nuts, buckwheat contains phytic acid. This anti-nutrient binds to minerals like calcium, iron and zinc, reducing their absorption and bioavailability in the body.

Soaking, sprouting and fermenting buckwheat prior to making it into noodles can help reduce phytic acid levels. Consuming buckwheat noodles alongside food sources high in vitamin C may also improve mineral absorption (13).

How to Choose Healthy Buckwheat Noodles

When selecting buckwheat noodles, go for 100% buckwheat soba noodles to reap the most nutritional benefits. Watch out for noodles that mix buckwheat flour with all-purpose wheat flour.

Also, opt for noodles without added salt or preservatives when possible. Check the ingredient list and select brands using very minimal ingredients.

Made from only buckwheat flour and water, handmade artisan soba noodles are the healthiest and highest quality option. However, they are harder to find and more expensive.

For convenience, organic 100% buckwheat soba noodles are widely available at most major grocery stores and online retailers. These pre-packaged noodles still provide the nutritional benefits of buckwheat minus the additives.

How to Cook Buckwheat Noodles

Buckwheat noodles cook faster than wheat noodles, so be careful not to overcook them. Here is a simple stovetop method for cooking soba noodles perfectly:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a teaspoon of salt.
  2. Add the dry buckwheat noodles and stir to prevent sticking. Cook for 2-3 minutes only until al dente.
  3. Drain the noodles, then rinse under cold running water until cooled.
  4. Portion into bowls and top with your desired ingredients like cooked vegetables, proteins, sauce, herbs and spices.

If you’ll be serving noodles cold, the rinse step helps stop the cooking process so they don’t get mushy as they sit.

Healthy Buckwheat Noodle Recipe Ideas

Here are a few ideas for nutritious recipes using buckwheat soba noodles:

Sesame-Ginger Soba Noodle Salad

Combine cooked soba noodles with julienned carrots, sliced red pepper, edamame, sliced green onions, sesame seeds and ginger soy dressing.

Cold Soba Noodle Bowl

Top cooked buckwheat noodles with roasted butternut squash, avocado, cherry tomatoes, spinach and pumpkin seeds. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon.

Pad Thai Zoodles

Swap traditional rice noodles for soba noodles in vegetarian pad thai. Combine noodles with sauteed zucchini noodles, tofu, chopped peanuts, bean sprouts, and Thai peanut sauce.

Soba Noodle Soup

Create a flavorful broth with chicken or vegetable stock, mushrooms, bok choy, carrots, tamari and miso paste. Add buckwheat noodles and garnish with scallions.

Are Buckwheat Noodles Healthier Than Wheat Noodles?

Based on the nutritional profile and health benefits, buckwheat noodles can be considered healthier than traditional wheat noodles in many regards. Here is a simple comparison:

Buckwheat Noodles Wheat Noodles
Higher in Fiber Yes No
Lower Glycemic Index Yes No
Gluten-Free Yes No
Higher in Antioxidants Yes No

The higher fiber, gluten-free nature, and antioxidant content of buckwheat noodles make them a great option if you are looking for a healthier pasta alternative.

However, for some people with digestive issues, the FODMAPs in soba noodles could potentially cause problems. Additionally, those with buckwheat allergies should avoid soba noodles as well.

Should You Switch to Buckwheat Noodles?

Transitioning from regular wheat noodles to buckwheat soba noodles can add more variety to your diet and provide some nutritional benefits. However, moderation is key.

Buckwheat noodles still a refined carbohydrate and are not as nutrient-dense as less processed options like zucchini noodles, sweet potato noodles or bean pasta alternatives. So they may not be the best choice for regular, daily consumption.

Using a mix of various healthy noodle options is ideal for getting a diverse range of nutrients. Save soba noodles for an occasional gluten-free, nutrient-boosting option a few times per month rather than daily.

Additionally, be sure to always pair noodles with plenty of vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats and seasoning for a well-balanced meal.

The Bottom Line

Buckwheat noodles are a gluten-free pasta alternative that provides some nutritional advantages over traditional wheat noodles. Specifically, they are:

  • Higher in fiber
  • Lower glycemic index
  • Gluten-free
  • Rich in antioxidants

These qualities may help promote digestive health, stabilize blood sugar levels, and reduce inflammation. However, those with IBS or buckwheat allergies should avoid soba noodles.

Occasionally enjoying buckwheat noodles can add beneficial variety to your diet. But pair them with nutritious ingredients and moderate your portions for the healthiest results.

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