Teff: All you need to know about this ancient grain

You might have not heard of this grain, so let us tell you some details about it

Most of you might be unaware but Teff is an Ethiopian gluten-free grain. In fact, it was banned for export by the Ethiopian government in 2006 because of its rising demands and the fear of farmers about the shortage. However, after the ban was lifted in 2015, Teff has become popular across the globe and it is also one of the main ingredients in Ethiopian bread injera. While it is considered a pseudocereal or grain, it is actually a tiny seed like quinoa, millet, or flaxseeds.

Origin

Native to Ethiopia and Eritrea, Teff is widely grown in South Africa and Australia. It is part of the grass family Poaceae and is one of the most nutritious seeds with a long shelf life.

Types of Teff

Interestingly, there are 4,000 varieties of this nutritious seed. Each seed is so small that about 150 of them are equivalent to one grain of wheat. They are of varied colors, ranging from ivory to mahogany to red.

Health benefits

It is naturally gluten-free. So if anyone is suffering from Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder with the body reacting to gluten proteins, eating Teff is a great option. It will not cause bloating, diarrhoea, fatigue, or anaemia. It’s also a great option for anyone who wishes to reduce their number of gluten-containing foods. In fact, you can use teff flour to make gluten-free cookies, cakes, pancakes, muffins, and bread. Interestingly, Teff is also rich in amino acids—the building blocks of protein.

Meanwhile, the ancient grain contains resistant starch, which is a type of carbohydrate that resists digestion in the small intestine. It helps to stabilize blood sugar and makes gastrointestinal health and gut integrity better. Since it has a low glycemic index, it releases glucose at a slow and does not cause large spikes in blood sugar. Last but not the least, it has loads of calcium, which is an important mineral for our bodies.

Risks or side effects

Although Teff is a nutritious seed worth an addition to your meal rotation, you must note that like gluten-free flours, teff flour needs a binding agent. Additionally, Teff does contain antinutrients, which might block or reduce the absorption of nutrients. So it all depends on how you cook it.

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