What Is Buckwheat?
Buckwheat is a plant cultivated for its seeds and saw the peak of its popularity in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Despite its name, Buckwheat isn’t related or similar to Wheat, and instead, it is more closely related to Rhubarb, which is a surprising fact for many.
However, with the introduction and popularity of modern nitrogen-based fertilizers, the popularity of Buckwheat has shrunk significantly.
That being said, it is still produced in significant quantities in some countries like Russia and China, but the production of Buckwheat within the western world is now relatively minimal.
One of the most common uses of Buckwheat is to create Buckwheat noodles which are popular in Tibet, China, and Japan. While rare, Buckwheat has also seen some use as a gluten-free alternative to create Beer.
However, in recent years some pet food owners may have noticed that Buckwheat has been featured in some dog food recipes.
Buckwheat In Dog Food
Buckwheat, like its alternatives, is primarily used in dog food recipes as a source of carbohydrates. Buckwheat has a high proportion of starch, which allows it to act as a dense source of carbohydrates with ease.
However, Buckwheat also has a relatively high proportion of protein for a plant-based ingredient. Also, this plant-based protein found within Buckwheat has a high biological value meaning that it is easy to digest and contains all the required proteins.
A high proportion of protein is quite uncommon to find in most plant-based ingredients and so could put it above others like some grains, which are lower in plant-based protein.
Outside of its core nutrition, Buckwheat is high in some beneficial minerals such as Zinc, Copper, Iron, and Selenium. While other foods also contain these minerals, increased levels can provide certain health benefits to dogs who may have previously consumed lower levels of them.
In particular, higher levels of Iron in a dog’s diet can benefit their blood health, and higher levels of Zinc can improve a dog’s immune system.
Lastly, Buckwheat has a reasonable portion of dietary fiber when compared to other plant-based ingredients. While it varies from dog to dog, fiber can be critical to some dogs to ensure that their digestion and stools remain steady and consistent.
Ancient Grains In Dog Food
As we discussed in more detail in our article What Are Ancient Grains In Dog Food?, the dog food industry has recently shifted back towards the use of grain ingredients.
Much of this shift was caused by the scare around the high use of legumes in grain-free dog food and increased rates of canine heart disease. If you are looking for more information on this topic, we recommend our article Best Dog Foods Without Peas.
This shift has included the use of less traditional grain ingredients like Sorghum and Spelt rather than the industry standard grains from the last century like Corn or Wheat.
The use of these ingredients is due to the fact that dog owners perceive these more positively, and some in the industry believe they are more appropriate.
While technically being a seed rather than a grain, Buckwheat is often being included in this shift and used as a substitute for legumes or starch ingredients.
This use of Buckwheat is very similar to the use of Millet which is another seed-based ingredient that is similar to grains.
You can learn more about Millet in our article Millet In Dog Food.
However, we will note that Buckwheat can be challenging to source, especially at scale, and to date, many dog owners are not familiar with it, which may put some more prominent dog food brands off using it heavily in their recipes.
Despite this relatively minor use so far, we anticipate Buckwheat’s use in dog food recipes will rise over the coming years.
Dog Food Brands That Use Buckwheat
As we touched on above, the use of Buckwheat in dog food recipes is still relatively minor, and most stick to more widely used grains like Brown Rice or Oatmeal.
In particular, Earthborn Holistic has used Buckwheat as a crucial component in their new Unrefined range of dry dog food recipes which they advertise as using Ancient Grains.
You can see an example of this below in the ingredient list of Earthborn Holistic’s Unrefined Smoked Salmon dry dog food recipe.
As you can see above, Buckwheat is a major component of this dry dog food recipe and is the fourth most abundant ingredient.
It is joined by other favored plant-based ingredients and grains like Quinoa, Pumpkin, Oatmeal, and Flaxseed.