Benefits of teff

Teff, scientifically known as Eragrostis teff,  is a traditional grain and staple food of eastern Africa and Ethiopian cuisine. There are so many benefits of teff, making this grain perfect to add to your diet.

This grain gained popularity because of its high nutrition, rapid cooking time, and versatile application. Teff is naturally gluten-free as well.

These all properties make this a superfood in high demand by the people from Hollywood to the Horn of Africa.

Teff is used similarly to quinoa and millet. Its grains are tiny in size and can be cooked quickly using less fuel and fewer resources.

These small grains are highly nutritious as well. The presence of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other organic compounds make these grains an ideal nutritional source for people.

Due to these nutrients, these small grains can provide a lot of health benefits if appropriately added to the diet.

1. Teff nutrition value:

Teff is a highly nutritious grain. 100 grams of uncooked teff contains:

  • Water: 8.82g
  • Protein: 13.3g
  • Fiber: 8g
  • Glucose: 0.73g
  • Calcium: 180mg
  • Iron: 7.63mg
  • Magnesium: 184mg
  • Potassium: 427mg
  • Phosphorus: 429mg
  • Copper: 0.81mg
  • Selenium: 4.4ug
  • Vitamin B6: 0.48mg
  • Vitamin E: 0.08mg
  • Thiamin: 39mg
  • Riboflavin: 0.27mg
  • Niacin: 3.36mg

Teff grains contain a higher amount of antioxidants and amino acids. However, the amount of nutrients present in them depends  on the variety of seeds and the area in which they are growing.

Uncooked teff grain with a spoon top view

2. Promote growth:

Teff can be very helpful in promoting the growth and development of the cells. Teff contains eight different kinds of amino acids. Lysine is one of the rarest ones, and it promotes growth and development.

The human body needs protein to repair old cells and create new ones to grow and develop throughout our lives.

Animal protein can be beneficial in this, but vegetable protein can work better as our bodies can break vegetable protein into amino acids easier as compared to animal protein. That’s why adding teff into the diet is very important for vegetarians and every healthy food fan.

3. Provide celiac support:

The number of people suffering from celiac disease is increasing day by day. It is a disease caused due to gluten intolerance; its symptoms can be severe and painful for those who suffer from it.

If you suffer from any of these symptoms it is very important to remove gluten-containing products from your diet or at least find an alternative option for these foods.

According to researchers (Tiziana Bacchetti, 2010), gluten-free products like teff grains can be a good option for people avoiding gluten.

These small grains are not only naturally gluten-free and delicious but also contain a lot of nutrients that can make your food healthy.

4. Keep bones stronger:

Teff not only contains a large number of vitamins and minerals, but the amount of calcium present in teff is truly impressive.

As calcium is an essential mineral for the growth of bones, it also helps in increasing bone density as we become older.

Studies (Gebremariam, 2012) have shown osteoporosis, a bone disease that can be caused due to the lack of calcium in diet or due to an unhealthy lifestyle. Adding teff into your diet can help in protecting bones as you become older.

4. Increase immunity:

Although most grains have a large number of minerals, there is not a high amount of vitamins present in them, especially Vitamin C.

Vitamin C is not only an important part of the immune system but also increases the production and activity of white blood cells.   

Vitamin C is also an important component when it comes to the creation of new cells, organs, tissues, and blood vessels.

Teff can be a great source of vitamin C with high protein content, which can significantly impact overall health.

5. Help in increasing circulation:

Teff contains a higher amount of iron; this dietary staple is recommended for patients suffering from anaemia.

Since iron is a key component of the red blood cells, deficiency in this mineral can cause weakness, muscle cramps, headache, and dizziness.

Research has shown the effect of teff on boosting circulation. According to a study (Alaunyte, 2010), adding teff into your diet can increase circulation and provide oxygenated blood to the body’s important organs.

6. Helps with managing diabetes:

Teff contains high fiber content. This fiber can help in reducing cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of diabetes.

Teff can slow down the release of insulin into the bloodstream. It can also prevent your sugar levels from dangerous spikes if you are not careful.

This is because of the high fiber content present in teff. Studies have also shown the significance of teff in maintaining blood sugar.

According to a study (Mengistu Lemecha, 2018) of two groups In which, one group was given a teff-based diet while the other was given a wheat diet.

The study found out that the group with a teff-based diet has excellent improvement in glucose intolerance compared to those on a wheat diet. 

Teff flour in a bowl and teff grain with a spoon top view

7. Can reduce menstrual problems:

Teff can be used as a soothing agent during menstruation due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Adding teff into the diet can help during severe menstrual flow, severe cramping, and other physical manifestations that occur during that time of the month.

For some women, this time can be challenging, and they face severe pain but adding teff into the diet can reduce the severity and make you live in comfort.

8. May improve digestive system:

Teff grains have been used as a laxative for thousands of years, as these can speed up the process of digestion.

The presence of dietary fiber in these grains can improve peristaltic motion and increase the quality of bowel movements.

Studies (Philip B.Mellen, 2008) have shown the ability of dietary fibers to balance cholesterol levels in the blood. These fibers can also provide release from constipation, cramping, and boating.

9. Increase energy production:

Teff contains another important mineral in high concentration, copper. Copper plays an important role in many different processes of the body, including energy production, enzymatic reaction, growth and repair, nervous system function, and creation of red blood cells.

According to a study (Mariam I O Mohammed, January), adding teff can maintain a proper level of copper needed by our body to function properly. Without the proper level, many of the systems of the body could collapse.

10. Improves heart health:

Last but not least, teff grains have shown to be very effective in improving heart health. Because of the low sodium content of teff, it doesn’t clog arteries much.

According to research (Fabiana F. De Moura, 2009) teff can reduce blood pressure, which also reduces the chances of suffering from heart diseases like stroke and heart attack.

Moreover, there are no side effects or allergic cases from teff that have been reported yet, which makes these grains the best option.

What is teff flour?

The most common form in which the teff is used is in teff flour. Teff flour is used in cooking and making bread.

The bread traditionally made from teff is known as injera bread. This bread is very famous in Ethiopian cuisines and is eaten with the majority of their dishes.

The best thing about this flour is that it is gluten-free, which is the reason behind its popularity as people prefer teff flour as compared to wheat flour.

Teff flour nutritional value:

Teff is a highly nutritious grain. According to research (USDA, 2019), 100g of teff flour contains:

  • Calories: 366
  • Fat: 3.7 grams
  • Iron: 37% of the daily recommended value
  • Fiber: 12.2 grams
  • Carbs: 70.7 grams
  • Protein: 12.2 grams
  • Calcium is 11% of the daily recommended value

Teff contains a higher amount of minerals like copper, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and zinc compared with other grains.

Moreover, it is also a great source of amino acids, which work as building blocks of protein in the human body.

It also contains a higher amount of lysine, an amino acid that is often missing in other grains. These amino acids play an important role in the production of enzymes, collagen, proteins, and hormones. Lysine also helps in absorbing calcium, produces energy, and improves immune function.

But in teff flour, some of the nutrients may not absorb appropriately due to their bonding with anti-nutrients like phytic acid. However, this effect can be reduced with the help of lacto-fermentation.

You have to mix water into the teff flour for the fermentation and leave it for a few days at room temperature. Naturally occurring lactic acid and yeasts will break down sugars and phytic acid.

A roll of injera made from black teff on a white plate

Health benefits of teff flour:

Teff flour can provide a lot of health benefits which can make it a great addition to your daily diet routine.

1. Naturally gluten free:

Gluten is naturally present in some of the grains, giving them an elastic texture. However, some people are allergic to gluten and cannot eat it due to celiac disease, an autoimmune condition.

This disease makes the patient’s immune system attack the small intestine lining. It results in weight loss, diarrhea, anemia, bloating, constipation and fatigue.

Moreover, some people who are not allergic to gluten may also find it difficult to digest. It’s hard for them to add wheat flour to their diet or take any product made up of wheat flour. Therefore, teff flour can be the best option for them as it is naturally gluten-free.

2. High in dietary fiber:

Teff contains a higher content of fiber as compared to other grains. According to research (Habtu Shumoy, 2017), 100 grams of teff flour includes 12.2 grams of dietary fiber. The same size serving of wheat flour only contains 2.4 grams and oat flour 6.5 grams. 

A high fiber diet improves health in many ways, as it reduces the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and digestive problems.

Women and men both are recommended to take 25 to 40 grams of fiber every day. Some studies (María Ciudad-Mulero 1, 2019) have shown that most of the fiber in teff flour is insoluble, while some found it contains a mix.

Both insoluble and soluble fiber are important for health. Insoluble fiber hardly gets digested and increases stool volume. It also improves bowel movement.

On the other hand, soluble fiber softens the stool by drawing the water into the gut. Soluble fiber also takes part in fat and carbs metabolism and improves the health of gut bacteria.

3. Rich in iron:

Teff is also high in iron, which is an important mineral that carries oxygen with the help of red blood cells and delivers it throughout the body.

According to a study (Shimels Hussien Mohammed, 2018) of pregnant women suffering from anemia, teff helps in reducing the rates of this disease and also helps in avoiding iron deficiency.

Some researchers (Habtu Shumoy, 2017) have reported that iron values are as high as 80mg in 100 grams of teff flour, which is 44% of the daily recommended value.

It is estimated that teff flour provides a higher amount of iron than other flours. For example, 100 grams of teff flour provides 37% of the daily recommended value of iron while 100grams of wheat flour offers just 5% of the daily recommended value of iron.

4. Low glycemic index:

The glycemic index is a measurement at which food raises the blood sugar level. Food with a glycemic index above 70 is considered high as it raises blood sugar quickly, and those below 55 are taken low as they promptly lower blood sugar levels. So, it is considered better to eat foods having GI in between these values.

Studies (D E Thomas, 2010) have shown the low glycemic index diet can be very useful for people suffering from diabetes as it controls their blood sugar levels. Cooked teff has a moderate glycemic index, 57. The glycemic index also depends upon how it is cooked.

For example, the glycemic index of teff porridge is 94-137, which is a high glycemic index. This is due to water that gelatinizes the starch and makes it quicker to digest.

Bread made of teff flour has a glycemic index of 74, which is still high. But it is lower than the glycemic index present in wheat bread, quinoa, or buckwheat bread. 

Teff flour in a bowl and teff grain with a spoon top view

The bottom line

Teff is a traditional Ethiopian grain that contains a higher amount of fiber and minerals. Teff grain and its flour are also becoming very popular because it is naturally gluten-free. More people are using it as an alternative to wheat flour.

Moreover, teff can provide a lot of health benefits from preventing diseases to losing weight. As it contains fibers, vitamins, and some essential minerals.

So, try to add teff into your diet to obtain health benefits. You can also bake goods with the help of teff flour and add it to dishes while cooking.

Other related articles:

  1. What Is Fonio?
  2. Sorghum Nutrition
  3. 11 Amazing Benefits Of Oatmeal
  4. Is Buckwheat Gluten Free?
  5. Is Quinoa Gluten Free?
  6. High Fiber Gluten Free Foods
  7. Are Garbanzos Good For You?

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