Teff: America’s Next Super Grain

By now, there are so many superfoods that people are using in their daily lives. There’s wheatgrass, flaxseed, quinoa, kale, etc. But this year, there’s a new breakout star about to take over the market. And that star, my friends, is teff.

Now, I’m sure you haven’t heard about this grain. In fact, I’m sure this is probably the first time you’ve come across its name.

Well then, let’s go ahead and talk more about teff, its nutritional value, and also its numerous benefits.

What Is Teff?

 

Teff is an annual grass native to the countries Eritrea and Ethiopia. It goes by many names—taf, Williams lovegrass, xaafi, or annual bunch grass. It is very tiny, roughly the size of a poppy seed.

This grain comes in a variety of colors, from white to red to dark brown. Also, it possesses a very mild nutty flavor. It’s a durable crop that can grow in practically any climate. Teff is able to adapt to different kinds of environments, from drought stress to waterlogged soil conditions.

It has a variety of applications. First, it is used to make traditional injera (sourdough flatbread). This is a national dish in Ethiopia that’s served with stews and salads. Next, you can ground it into flour to make your favorite baked goods, like pie crusts, breads, cookies, etc. And lastly, it can also be steamed, baked, or boiled, either as a side dish or a main course.

Many Hollywood celebrities swear by it. Notable mentions are actress Gwyneth Paltrow and fashion designer and former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham.   

Nutrition Facts

This superfood contains a high amount of manganese, protein, calcium, iron, and dietary fiber. In fact, it has 50 percent more protein, 25 times more calcium, and 5 times more fiber as compared to brown rice.

Aside from that, teff also has sodium, thiamine, niacin, and also riboflavin. Also there’s vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, and potassium.

It is also gluten-free, so those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance can enjoy it. Many dietitians recommend this grain as a way for Americans to include more healthy whole grains into their diets.

Health Benefits

Despite its tiny size, teff packs a lot of punch. It has many benefits for your entire body. Here are a few examples of how teff is good for you.

Treats Anemia

Anemia is when the body is not able to get enough oxygen to the cells and tissues. This then leads to the body feeling weak and tired. It also has other unhealthy side effects, like immune dysfunction, lesser work or exercise capacity, GI disturbances, neurocognitive impairment, and also impaired thermoregulation.

Fortunately, the high iron content in this super grain increases oxygenation to the important parts and organs of the body. Iron is important in producing hemoglobin. This is a type of protein found in red blood cells, and it carries oxygen from your lungs and transports it throughout the rest of your body.

Helps Lose Weight

This grain is low in saturated fat, but high in dietary fiber and copper. These are factors that can help you lose weight, and fast. Teff can also keep you feeling fuller, longer.

In addition, the copper in teff works best when we work out. Copper-rich food boosts energy levels. That makes us exercise more. The more we work out, the more calories we burn.   

Promotes Good Digestion

In connection with weight loss, it can also improve the digestive system. For years, teff has been used as a laxative. Fiber passes through our digestive system and takes with it toxins, fat, cholesterol, and waste particles.

The fiber content bulks up stool, stimulates peristaltic motion, and also increases the regularity and quality of bowel movements. It also relieves bloating, cramping, constipation, and other gastrointestinal issues.   

Relieves PMS Symptoms

The phosphorus content in teff takes the spotlight here. It helps balance the hormones in the body. Hormone balance is the primary factor that determines PMS symptoms that women go through. It also decreases inflammation, muscle pain, bloating, and also cramping associated with menstruation.

Copper is also useful to women who are having their red days. It relieves them from feeling sluggish and fatigued and boosts their energy.

Boosts Immunity

Vitamin C is a crucial part to the immune system. It stimulates the production and activity of white blood cells. In addition, it also is a key part in collagen. Collagen creates new cells, muscle tissue, blood vessels, and organs.

Thiamine is also an essential mineral that helps boost the immune system. It maintains muscle tone along the walls of the digestive tract. This is where much of the immune system resides in our bodies.  

Supports Bone Health

As we get older, we get more chances of getting affected by osteoporosis. In order to defend our fragile bones, consuming a healthy dose of teff will do the trick. It is a great source of calcium and manganese. These two help bones solidify properly. They also reduce bone loss, regulates bone hormones, and boosts enzymes involved in bone metabolism.

Promotes a Healthy Heart

Adding teff to your daily diet lowers blood pressure and reduces overall strain on your cardiovascular system. This then reduces the risk of stroke and heart attack.

Its vitamin B6 content also maintains healthy blood vessels and reduces the risk of heart disease. It also regulates homocysteine within the blood. This is an amino acid that, if it reaches high levels, leads to inflammation and the development of heart conditions.

A published study shows that B6, along with folate, reduces the total homocysteine concentrations. In addition to that, B6 also manages cholesterol levels.

Manages Diabetes

Teff slows the release of insulin into the bloodstream. This prevents dangerous plunges or spikes from occurring. It also prevents high blood sugar levels. In addition, it can also decrease lipid peroxidation, improve mitochondrial function, and improve insulin secretion.

All these make teff a natural diabetes remedy.

Easy Recipes to Try

If you’re still not sure how to incorporate teff into your life, here are some easy recipes you can try out for yourself.

Teff Porridge with Apples, Pecans, and Dates

Ingredients:

½ cup teff

6 dates, pitted and chopped

1 apple, cubed

a handful of pecans, chopped

1 tablespoon almond butter

1½ cup water

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ cup almond milk

Procedure:

Place teff in a small saucepan on medium-low heat. Stir frequently to make sure teff doesn’t burn. Around 5 to 10 minutes later, the grains will make crackling sounds and start to pop. Add half of the dates, water, butter, and cinnamon. Stir well. Bring to a gentle boil, cover, and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Once the porridge is thickened to your desired consistency and the grains are soft, remove from heat. Stir in the milk slowly until properly mixed. Ladle into a bowl. Top with the rest of the dates, chopped apples, and pecans. Finally, sprinkle a little cinnamon on top and serve.  

Teff Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup roasted almond butter, unsweetened

4 ounces applesauce, unsweetened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup pure maple syrup

1½ cups teff flour

⅛ teaspoon salt

dark chocolate chips

Procedure:

First, preheat  the oven to 350℉. Oil two cookie sheets.

Next, place almond butter, applesauce, vanilla extract, and maple syrup in a food processor. Mix ingredients together. Next add the teff flour and salt into the processor. Pulse until mixed.

Scoop batter and make similar-sized balls. Arrange in rows in cookie sheet, also making sure to leave around an inch of space around each one.   

Flatten each ball of batter using the back of a fork. Next, arrange dark chocolate chips on top of each. Bake for around 13 minutes in the center of the oven. This makes the bottom of the cookies slightly golden, but the middle and top will be slightly soft and chewy.

Last, place on a rack to cool before serving.

Banana Nut and Teff Smoothie

Ingredients:

½ cup teff grains

½ cup water

2 frozen bananas, chopped

2½ cups almond milk

1 tablespoon almond butter

½ teaspoon cinnamon powder

Procedure:

First, you need to cook the teff grains. Next, place them in a small saucepan along with the water. Bring to a boil. Next, cover the pan and let simmer for around 5-7 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Next, place bananas, almond butter, almond milk, cooled teff, and also cinnamon in a high-speed blender. Mix until fully incorporated. Finally, serve and enjoy!

Kate B. Forsyth is a writer for Be Healthy Today, who specializes in health and nutrition. Her passion is to help people get an overall transformation of health that lasts a lifetime. In her blog posts, she goes beyond research by providing health-concerned citizens doable and simple tricks to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

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