Ever heard of Teff, the nutrient-dense plant protein that’s amazing for your gut and overall health? In case you’re wondering: What is this grain, and why have I not heard of it before? Well, don’t worry about it. You’re in the right place. Read on to know all about this excellent grain and the numerous health benefits that make it a superfood!
What is Teff?
Teff is a small fine grain – about the size of a poppy seed. It comes in different colours like brown, red, or white and is widely cultivated in various parts of the world, like the USA, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. The grain is tiny in size and has a mild nutty flavour. Eragrostis tef, popularly known as teff, hails from Ethiopia, and is now rapidly working its way into fitness fanatics’ diets.
The grain is a prominent source of protein, dietary fibre, rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and zinc when compared to other cereal grains such as wheat, maize, or barley. It is a great source of bioactive compounds like polyphenols, very rich in flavonoid derivatives which are sparse in the other common grains. This superfood is densely packed with essential nutrients that promote health and well-being.
Teff boasts of high protein content with a complete set of all 8 essential amino acids, which makes it the ultimate endurance-building food. It is rich in lysine, an amino acid lacking in other cereals, which aids in the production of hormones, enzymes, elastin, promotes energy production, supporting normal growth and development.
Gluten-free, easy to cook & digest
Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat and other grains that gives an elastic texture to the dough. However, people suffering from celiac disease need to lay off gluten due to the body’s immune system attacking the lining of their intestine. For those people, Teff is a healthy gluten-free alternative as it is easier on your digestive system.
Fibre improves digestion by relaxing the intestines. It helps get rid of accumulated waste and toxins, promoting digestive regularity and preventing constipation. Teff is high in dietary fibre than most other grains, packing a good 12.2 grams of dietary fibre per 100 grams, which is actually five times the fibre found in regular wheat flour.
It consists of both soluble and insoluble fibre that helps regularise bowel movements. Fibres feed the gut bacteria and enhance the metabolic rate over carbohydrates and fat. Over time, following a fibre-rich diet lowers the risk of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and keeps you away from other digestive problems.
High in protein
Uncooked Teff contains 13.2 g of proteins per 100 g whereas cooked teff is 4% protein, which is extremely rare for plant-based products. A 100-gram serving of cooked teff provides 101 kilocalories of food and also contains a good amount of protein, which is required for proper growth, creation, and repair of cells.
It is a great source of plant protein for vegetarians or vegans and helps fulfil their protein demand. It also provides an easier alternative to animal protein foods that take more energy to break down. Contrary to animal protein, which has been blamed time and again for its massive contribution towards carbon and methane emissions, Teff has a very small carbon footprint. The crop grows pretty fast and produces just enough.
Teff helps regulate blood sugar levels because of its low GI (glycaemic index) and high fibre content. It delays gastric emptying time and maintains satiety by controlling undesired hunger pangs and regulating blood glucose levels. It is often beneficial for weight loss and helps you shed those extra kilos since it is highly satiating.
How to cook this Superfood
Its grainy texture adds a nice crunch to any dish and cooks much faster than most grains. The versatile nature of the grain can be used in making several dishes across different cuisines. Its small size makes it easier to prepare and its role as a thickening agent adds more texture to soups and stews.
You can use Teff flour to make cookies, crepes, flatbread pizza, or use it as an additive to shakes, dosa, roti, bread, pancakes, brownies, muffins, and cakes. You can also enjoy it in the form of cereal or porridge, topped with dried fruits, nuts, with a side of milk or yoghurt. Teff chips as snacks are also becoming a popular healthy food option among the health freaks.