Cacao Benefits (besides the amazing taste)

Hi friends! It’s me, Taylor, back to talk about another amazing ingredient we use in Lil Bucks. To start this off I have to ask a serious question… Have any of you seen Portlandia? Ya know, the show with Fred Armisan and Carrie Brownstein? Well, if you haven’t, it’s the first thing that came to my mind when Emily was telling me about Cacao Lil Bucks. I still to this day have a scene from the show stuck in my head every time I hear or see the word Cacao. If you have no idea what on earth I’m talking about, please do yourself a favor and look up the Portlandia Cacao scene. I made Emily watch it one day when we were shipping out orders. 

 

All jokes aside, it’s not a bad thing to have the word ‘cacao’ stuck in your head all the time. It is my personal favorite ingredient that we use and my favorite flavor of Lil Bucks to put in all of my smoothie bowls! For starters, we use a raw, organic cacao powder that is certified organic, kosher, non-GMO, and naturally gluten free

 

Cacao Bucks are slightly sweet (with only 3g of sugar per serving) because we strive to keep the sugar content down so the cacao flavor can shine! I’m also a huge fan of the Cacao Bucks because they contain a little bit of cinnamon and maca root powder, making the flavor that much more bold. 

 

Our favorite benefits of Cacao (besides taste) are: 

 

  1. Cacao is high in magnesium, just like buckwheat, so you’re getting an extra dose when you eat Cacao Bucks. Magnesium is a great component to keep in your diet because it has sleep-promoting, stress-reducing, and disease-protecting power. 
  2. Cacao is made from unroasted, cold-pressed beans with NO added sugar, making it super nutrient and antioxidant dense (unlike cocoa, which we explain below). Raw organic cacao has 40 times more antioxidants than blueberries. Crazy right! 
  3. Raw cacao contains Anandamide. Anandamide has anti-anxiety and antidepressant properties, and it’s a great thing to have when you need to calm down. Many people eat Cacao before bed. 

 

We often get asked, “Is cacao the same as cocoa?” Common mistake, I thought the same thing, too! Cacao is actually not the same as cocoa, though it does come from the same bean. Raw organic cacao contains healthy fats that help us to stay energized, making it a perfect post-workout snack. Normal cocoa powder and chocolates are chemically processed and roasted, meaning a large amount of the antioxidants and flavonoids are destroyed in the process. We like to keep chemicals and things we can’t pronounce out of our diets anyways. 🙂 

 

We could go on and on about the benefits and flavor, but you should taste and see for yourself! 🍫😋

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Matcha Benefits (and why we love it so matcha!)

Matcha. You know it, you love it (we can only hope), but how much do you actually know about this fantastic green tea powder? 

 

Lil Bucks’ love affair with matcha started while Emily (the founder) was living her best life in Australia, eating all the activated buckwheat (that’s what the Aussies call sprouted buckwheat) and sippin’ on the most perfect matcha lattes by the beach. 

 

Matcha can be an acquired taste to some, but when paired with the right flavors (or a really, really well-executed latte), you can grow to LOVE it and crave the complex, earthy taste. Beyond that, the health benefits are AMAZING, so we were thrilled to introduce Matcha as one of our first Lil Bucks flavors back when we launched.  

 

So what is matcha, anyways? 

 

Matcha was popularized over 900 years ago by Chinese Zen Buddhist Monks and is created by the grinding of young green tea leaves, which then turns into a bright green powder that you can do just about anything with… drink it, bake with it, season with it. We love the old, traditional and timeless uses of Matcha, but we wanted to push its uses even more with Lil Bucks! 

 

Not only do we love Matcha for its unique, earthy, vegetal yet sweet flavor, but we are obsessed with of all the amazing benefits! There are so many. Let’s review, yeah? 

 

TOP 5 MATCHA BENEFITS

 

1. Matcha helps you focus (I could use some right now.)

In a study, one group of individuals consumed matcha tea or a bar containing matcha, while another group consumed placebo tea or a bar. The group that consumed matcha showed higher improvements in attention, reaction time and memory opposed to the other group who consumed placebo. Matcha is also packed with L-theanine, which is known to alter the effects of caffeine, while avoiding the crash in energy levels after regular caffeine consumption. For all you coffee addicts out there (I’m guilty, too) this is a much healthier alternative that doesn’t leave you with the anxious caffeine jitters and the horrible crash you get afterwards! 

 

2. Matcha is known to burn calories and can help you lose weight! 

Matcha green tea utilizes fat as an energy source. The EGCg and caffeine in  matcha work together to naturally boost metabolism, which helps you burn more calories on a daily basis. So, if your workouts aren’t giving you everything you want, add a little Matcha to your regimen! 

 

3. Matcha is great for an immunity boost! 

Know what’s sick? Not being sick! Matcha is known for boosting the immune system and halts the growth of various viruses and harmful bacteria in our bodies. Matcha is loaded with antioxidants that fight off the nasties that cause us to get sick. Specifically, the antioxidant called EGCg binds to cells and stops the growth of disease-causing microorganisms like influenza A virus, viruses that cause Strep Throat, Herpes Virus, and Hepatitis Virus. 

 

4. Matcha = Cancer-Fighting Power!!  

Like stated earlier, Matcha is insanely loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants have tons of health-promoting compounds including some that have been directly linked to cancer prevention in different test-tube studies. HOW COOL! The studies have found that the EGCg in Matcha helps kill off prostate, liver, skin and lung cancer cells. And if you love the sun as much as we do at Lil Bucks, we definitely need to take an extra dose of Matcha for our sweet skin (and sunscreen. V important). 

 

5. We <3 Matcha because it’s also good for our hearts! 

With heart disease being one of the leading causes of death in people over the age of 35, we are so grateful that this powerful powder protects against heart diseases and lowers bad cholesterol and triglycerides. Drinking green tea and matcha is linked to reducing risk of strokes and heart disease. So drink up, ladies and gents and protect your precious heart! 

 

Buckwheat is also incredibly great for heart health, so we’re hoping to offer Matcha Lil Bucks as an antioxidant-rich, heart-healthy cereal/granola for you. 

 

For the taste, we add a good amount of pure vanilla to our recipe as well to balance out the earthiness of the Matcha to let it shine. The maple syrup is the binding ingredient, making the Matcha Lil Bucks slightly sweet, but these still go great on sweet or savory dishes. Perfect to add to any summer salad, toast, açaí bowl, smoothies and more! Not to mention they add a scrumptious crunchiness to everything! 🙂

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Benefits of Reishi Mushroom: The Queen of the 'Shrooms

Hi everyone! My name is Taylor. The Lil Bucks founder Emily so graciously invited me to join the Lil Bucks team as the Marketing and Production Assistant, and let me tell you, I’ve been LOVING it! Emily is not only an amazing boss, cook and leader, but she has such a passion for her brand which I really look up to. Today I’m writing about Reishi Mushroom benefits and why we include this amazing adaptogen in our Clusterbucks! After you read this I can only hope you get as hyped as I did while learning about this cute lil fungi. It is truly the Tyra Banks of mushrooms (aka a powerhouse).

Like I mentioned, Reishi is an adaptogen, which is a natural substance that helps the body adapt to stress and exerts a normalizing effect on bodily processes. It’s practically a doctor’s office in a mushroom, which is why we include a full dosage in EACH SERVING of our Chocolate Reishi Clusterbucks (1000mg per serving to be precise).

A little backstory on the Reishi Mushroom… They have long been relied upon, mostly in Asia (where reishi mushrooms grow). The Chinese regarded the Reishi Mushroom as the “herb of spiritual potency” symbolizing success, well-being, divine power, and longevity. Sounds like a well-rounded shroom to me!

The mushrooms are known to be potent because of the unique collection of organic compounds and components they contain. If I  named all of them my fingers might fall off from typing. The fungi also wears the nickname “The Mushroom of Immortality” because of its history of medicinal use in ancient Chinese medicine. People used it thousands of years ago to stay alive forever. Which might seem a little crazy, but recent studies have actually proved that it does help you live longer – just not forever. Which honestly, thank goodness. The impressive amount of polysaccharides (a carbohydrate whose molecules consist of a number of sugar molecules bonded together) can be credited for these insane immune-boosting benefits.

Different antioxidant properties of other organic compounds in Reishi Mushrooms also neutralize free radicals – and you don’t want too many of those nasties in your body as they can cause chronic diseases and premature aging (and no one wants that).

Emily decided to create a product using Reishi Mushrooms after feeling amazing from taking reishi in her daily smoothie for three months. Lil Bucks needed to share the benefits of reishi mushroom with the world (in a form that’s not a mushroom coffee… not that we don’t love those 🍄☕). If you have a serving of Clusterbucks a day, you’re not only getting that plant-based protein, magnesium, fiber and antioxidants from the buckwheat, but you’re also getting:

  1. Neutralization of free radicals
  2. Anti-aging properties
  3. Longer lifespan (if taken over time)
  4. A slew of healthy organic compounds, and perhaps the best part
  5. Combat stress, and help boost your mood if you suffer from anxiety, depression, or irritation.
  6. Protection by fighting off various cancer cells and reducing the size of tumors.

I mean seriously, y’all (I’m from Texas, by the way) it is a miracle mushroom. On top of all those goodie facts, it helps with liver function. And if you enjoy a glass of wine after a long day like myself, then that’s a great bonus. It can literally death drop (you know, the dance move drag queens do…) on some toxins. The Reishi Mushroom supports healthy neurological functions and is known to have a therapeutic effect on different neurodegenerative (I took biology once) disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Now that you know ALL the important benefits of the queen of the fungi’s, you’re probably wondering how it tastes. To be frank, a little bitter! Which is why most people don’t consume it by itself, and why we at Lil Bucks mix it into a healthy amount of cacao and cinnamon with our Clusters. We (Emily, really) set out to make a granola that not only tasted amazing on its own, in smoothie bowls or as cereal, but one that truly makes you feel better than you did before you ate it!

I don’t know about you, but I am elated to now know so much about this superfood that we include in our recipes. I hope you are too! Get excited, because once you eat a bag of Clusterbucks (which is in fact possible to do in one sitting) you will have the power to take over the world! Well, maybe not, but at least conquer your day.

Thank you for taking the time to read my first blog post for Lil Bucks!

                        Xoxo, Tay

Reishi mushroom powder from Terrasoul


5 Reasons Sprouted Buckwheat = The Best Gluten Free Granola

Have you ever had a eating experience that just changed you? The whole reason I started Lil Bucks was because I had an incredible experience eating an acai bowl while living in Sydney, Australia, where they used sprouted buckwheat to replace granola in the acai bowl.

After eating this life-changing bowl, I felt amazing. No sluggish-ness—alternatively I had an amazing satisfaction and sustained energy, like I’d actually eaten some protein. Not to mention, the bowl had an amazing crunch, of course. The hero ingredient here making everything so tasty and making me feel so amazing was obviously sprouted buckwheat. You can find sprouted buckwheat used as a granola base everywhere in Australia (check out my pic of an Aussie grocery store to the right—over half those products have sprouted buckwheat as the base).

Sprouted buckwheat has tons of amazing uses (see: recipes), and you do want to make sure you consume sprouted buckwheat and not toasted or uncooked buckwheat groats, but the O.G. reason for why I started this brand was to be the perfect gluten-free granola replacement. Here’s the top 5 reasons why Lil Bucks Sprouted Buckwheat makes for your perfect gluten-free granola:

1. BUCKWHEAT IS GLUTEN-FREE!

Yes, a key factor in the perfect gluten-free granola is all ingredients actually being gluten-free. People, especially in the U.S., are so misled by the name “buckwheat” so they write it off as something they shouldn’t eat. I’m here to change that. Did you know, buckwheat is most closely related to the rhubarb plant, and buckwheat groats are actually fruit seeds?

According to Whole 30 ideology, buckwheat is still considered a pseudo-cereal and thus banned more for the mental benefit of not tricking yourself into consuming healthy cereal (in the same way paleo/coconut flour pancakes are banned). But if you’re not doing that, this is seriously the best gluten-free crunchy alternative, something you can eat for that grain-like taste and texture without the horrible sluggish feel afterwards (and one could argue you could still eat buckwheat groats on the Whole30, they’re just not popular enough for Whole30 to have a hard rule on it yet hehe).

2. BUCKWHEAT IS HIGH IN PROTEIN

Unlike most standard granolas, Lil Bucks naturally contain 6g of plant-based protein from the buckwheat. Buckwheat has as much protein as quinoa, but in a crunchy more versatile form. I’ll even dare share this research I’ve done on similar popular ‘healthy’ granolas in the granola aisle…

3. BUCKWHEAT IS LOW-GLYCEMIC

What does low-glycemic even mean? From GISymbol.com: 

The Glycemic Index (GI) is a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates with a low GI value (55 or less) are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolised and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and, therefore usually, insulin levels. 

Remember when I said I had this amazing sustained energy after eating my magical Sydney acai bowl? The magic was in part thanks to the low-glycemic nature of the buckwheat granola replacement. My rise in blood sugar was more gradual after consuming a serving of buckwheat, which means the energy released more steadily throughout the day, leaving me satisfied for longer (rather than having your standard smoothie/yogurt bowl with granola, when you’re hungry again in about an hour). 

It is especially important to pair something like a fruit-based smoothie bowl or yogurt (which, let’s be real, unless you’re eating plain yogurt most yogurts, even the healthiest, have some sugaaa) with a low-glycemic food to help control your energy release. Unless you’re closely watching your blood sugar levels for any reason, the glycemic index probably isn’t the first thing you think about when shopping for your granola, but with the way you feel after eating it, you’ll appreciate this. (oh but for you diabetics, human studies have linked the consumption of buckwheat with lower blood sugar in diabetics. woo.) 

4. SPROUTED BUCKWHEAT IS EXTREMELY HIGH IN ANTIOXIDANTS + MAGNESIUM

Buckwheat is known as one of the most antioxidant-dense ancient grains (I know, it’s not a grain, but often compared to them due to similar uses and nutrition value). Of all the popular ancient grains, quinoa and buckwheat are known for having the most antioxidants, with a study from Food Chemistry showing that buckwheat has 10x more antioxidants than quinoa! 

More studies need to be done on the benefits of antioxidants and how we can make the most of them, but read this blog post to learn more about antioxidants and why they are good for you. Long story short: Antioxidants = cancer-fighting, anti-aging, energy-boosting, immune-preserving goodness. 

For Lil Bucks, we sprout and dehydrate rather than roasting to preserve as much antioxidants as possible. By sprouting we unleash the nutrition potential of buckwheat and maximize your body’s ability to digest the buckwheat and all its goodness. Then we dehydrate to make these shelf-stable for days (likely at least a year, getting it tested). This also preserves the full nutrition potential of buckwheat, as heat is known to kill off a lot of the antioxidants than come naturally in buckwheat (again, more studies are needed on antioxidants though to determine exactly what temperature antioxidants start burning off). To be safe, Lil Bucks never go over 115°F. 

5. SPROUTED BUCKWHEAT GIVES YOU THE PERFECT CRUNCHY TEXTURE OF YOUR DREAMZ

This all comes back to taste. Of course, if something makes us feel great and gives us a ton of nutrients, we’ll try to eat it, or blend it in a smoothie to mask the taste. But with sprouted buckwheat, you don’t need to do that. On its own (i.e. the Original flavor), sprouted buckwheat has a nice, nutty grain-like taste, and it holds its crunch perfectly in dishes but softly disintegrates right when you bite it. So satisfying. And of course, Cacao (for you chocolate lovers) and Matcha (for you matcha + vanilla lovers) take the taste next level. I highly encourage you to try topping your smoothies, yogurts, oatmeal, desserts, ice cream (yum), salads, ANYTHING with Lil Bucks so you can experience this dreamy crunch like I did in Australia! 

Any questions? Email me: emily@lovelilbucks.com 

Much love,

Emily, founder + owner of Lil Bucks 

Half these products in a standard Aussie grocery store use sprouted buckwheat as the base

THE BOWL OF DISCOVERY. The bowl that changed everything.


Sprouted Buckwheat vs. Toasted Buckwheat

Sprouted Buckwheat vs. Toasted Buckwheat

Squash menu item from sweetgreen served with toasted buckwheat

Lil Bucks is probably one of the first sprouted buckwheat brands in the U.S.A., and while sprouted buckwheat is popular in healthy cafes in Australia, it hasn’t really blown up here yet

So honestly I get SO excited when I see reputable brands using buckwheat. I really hope Kellogg’s or General Mills doesn’t just steal the idea and recipe and put Lil Bucks out of business, but in general it’s great. I found a tiny health cafe in NYC using sprouted buckwheat in their granola recipe, a cafe in Hawaii used it as a crunchy base for a vegan dessert bar, and a smoothie shop in St. Louis offers buckwheat on their acai bowls!

sprouted buckwheat choice health bar hawaii
Mmmm a sprouted buckwheat treat I found while in Maui, Hawaii! (Choice Health Bar)

AND NOW! Sweetgreen using buckwheat on their roasted Koginut squash. I LOVE sweet green for popularizing less known, in-season foods on their menu. Plus, you can really taste the freshness, and this sets them apart from other salad shops across the country. (PS this Mindbodygreen podcast with the sweetgreen founders is great!)

So I’m hoping people continue to fall in love with this crunchy, subtly nutty flavor of buckwheat, along with the nutritional benefits! And as buckwheat grows in popularity, I want to educate you on the different ways of consuming it: sweetgreen uses toasted buckwheat rather than sprouted+dehydrated buckwheat (Lil Bucks are sprouted and dehydrated), and I wanted to explore the differences in these two things, so you can learn why I prefer sprouted buckwheat vs. other forms of cooked/roasted buckwheat (but both are great!!).

WHY COOK OR SPROUT BUCKWHEAT?

Raw buckwheat contains phytic acid, a nutrient inhibitor that’s resistant to digestive enzymes and blocks the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals such as Zinc, Magnesium and Calcium. AND BUCKWHEAT HAS 25% OF YOUR DAILY VALUE OF MAGNESIUM. Sooooo um this phytic acid has got to get out of the way 👋

Phytic acid is common in other seeds, nuts and legumes as well, which helps them last for years completely dormant, but isn’t great for digesting these foods. This is why you see ‘sprouted’, ‘activated’ and ‘roasted’ as popular descriptors for seeds, nuts and legumes.

Sprouting buckwheat (and other seeds, nuts and legumes) almost completely rids the buckwheat of phytic acid, so it becomes more digestible and we can better absorb all the magical nutrients. I really can’t say this better than Raw Gorilla:

“When the nut or seed is soaked it is activated and the dormant enzymes inherent inside start to awaken. Basically the nut or seed is preparing to burst into life and this is the optimum time to de-hydrate or consume them whilst they are at their enzymic peak and bursting with life-force!”

That’s why right after sprouting Lil Bucks, the buckwheat seeds are dehydrated!

Roasting (or cooking) is another way to break down the phytic acid so we can absorb the nutrients, but by doing this we are damaging some of the antioxidants found in buckwheat, and there are a LOT in buckwheat!

Some of these nutrients are sensitive to heat and might be lost during the roasting process. There still isn’t a ton of research on this as we are just starting to learn more and more about antioxidants, but multiple studies show increased temperature and roasting time decrease antioxidant activity (see sources at bottom).

You also want to be careful about the roasting method – dry-roasted or oil-roasted (can even mean deep-fried…). Dry-roasted is better but sometimes with this method, the temperature is much higher, causing more potential heat damage to the nutrients in buckwheat. I’d be interested to know how sweetgreen toasts their buckwheat – I imagine it’s a light toasting to give it that nutty flavor and ensure the phytic acid is released, but I don’t know. I’ll send them this blog post and ask! 😊

APPLYING THIS PRINCIPLE TO OTHER SEEDS, NUTS AND LEGUMES

If you are thinking about the other seeds, nuts and legumes you eat, the principles for sprouting/dehydrating vs. roasting are similar, and you can follow the links below to learn more (most articles and studies don’t focus on buckwheat as much as it’s not as popular YET).

To summarize:

sprouted/dehydrated: less phytic acid, seed is dried at its most bioavailable life stage (aka when the nutrients are most available to us). Con is that if you don’t fully dry a sprouted/soaked seed/nut it can go moldy from the inside, but you can rest assured that commercially purchased sprouted seeds/nuts (like Lil Bucks) go through moisture tests to ensure they are completed dried 🙂

roasting: slightly more phytic acid than if sprouted, but much easier to do at home. Less risk in roasting than sprouting as the high temperature kills off any dangerous bacteria (although risk is small unless you are eating A TON of the particular seeds/nuts/etc.), even though it kills off some antioxidants.

General rule of thumb is that if you eat a lot of roasted nuts/seeds, roasting at home is better than store-bought as you can control the temperature and oil used (if any). But sprouting (or at least soaking before roasting or better yet, dehydrating) may be the best if you’re eating a lot of seeds/nuts to ensure you aren’t consuming too much phytic acid, and you’re making the most out of its nutritional content. ✨

MORE READING ON THIS TOPIC:

https://treadingmyownpath.com/2013/08/26/roasting-soaking-sprouting-activating-or-eating-raw-a-guide-to-eating-nuts/

https://thenourishinghome.com/2012/03/how-to-soak-grains-for-optimal-nutrition/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/raw-vs-roasted-nuts#section3

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-sprouting

https://blog.radiantlifecatalog.com/bid/69542/That-s-Nuts-A-Complete-Guide-to-Soaking-Nuts-and-Seeds


Why We Sprout and Dehydrate

WHY WE SPROUT AND DEHYDRATE LIL BUCKS

Buckwheat groats are the superfood you’ve never heard of. Long utilized by Eastern Europeans and Russians in cooked dishes (mainly in kasha), innovative health foodies found delicious uses for the uncooked seeds in the past decade, mostly in Australia and the U.K.

HOWEVER, in order for our bodies to process all the incredible nutrients in raw buckwheat groats, the seeds must undergo the sprouting process to release enzyme inhibitors that block our bodies from absorbing all the seed’s nutrients. For Lil Bucks, we first sprout them and then dehydrate them to cut out all the moisture, so you are left with shelf-stable, raw nutrient-packed seeds that have a wide variety of uses.

For the cacao and matcha, we add the flavoring before dehydrating to deeply infuse the flavors (and amazing antioxidants from cacao and matcha) into the sprouted seeds. All varieties of Lil Bucks are never processed at a temperature above 115°F – keeping the bucks at a low heat preserves the most nutrients and protein possible (high heat causes nutrient damage). Most importantly, this preserves the extremely high level of antioxidants found in buckwheat (10x more than quinoa).

Read our previous post “Buckwheat Benefits (+ About Antioxidants)”. You’ll learn more about buckwheat benefits, comparing buckwheat to quinoa, and why you want antioxidants in your system.


Buckwheat Benefits (+About Antioxidants)

BUCKWHEAT BENEFITS VS. QUINOA BENEFITS

(and why you want antioxidants in your system!)

The health benefits of sprouted buckwheat seeds are mind-blowing. 6g of protein and 5g of fiber per serving, these nutrient-dense seeds also contain 25% of your daily value of magnesium–you’d need to eat a pound of salad to get that much magnesium! (more on why magnesium is amazing in a future blog post).

Furthermore, buckwheat has an antioxidant capacity of 620 DPPH per 100g (for context, the superfood quinoa has 58 DPPH). Buckwheat actually has quite a similar nutritional makeup as quinoa (information from HealthWithFood):

WHY DO I WANT ANTIOXIDANTS?

Hint: Good for your heart, blood sugar control, and protection against cancer!

You’re probably more likely to feel good about eating a certain food if it contains “tons of antioxidants,” but what does that even mean?

Antioxidants are shown to fight off cancers, aging, and promote overall immune system functions. Numerous studies show that antioxidants may protect cells in your body from “free radical” damage that can occur from exposure to certain chemicals, smoking, pollution, radiation, and as a byproduct of normal metabolism.

Buckwheat specifically contains a rich supply of flavonoids, particularly rutin. Flavonoids are a diverse group of “phytonutrients” (plant chemicals) found in almost all fruits and vegetables, and buckwheat!! Flavanoids can:

  • Help protect you from chronic conditions such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
  • Fight against the free radicals that can cause cell damage leading to cancer.
  • Help lower LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol and decrease plaque in the arteries
  • Reduce the risk of hormone-related cancers, such as breast, uterine and prostate
  • Increase bone density

As antioxidants are researched more every year, we will continue to update our customers with more education on the particular antioxidant benefits of buckwheat, but trust us, this is a great food to include in your diet.