We wont be surprised if you hear Teff for the first time. Teff (Eragrostis tef) is also known as Ethiopian millet. Teff is basically a species of lovegrass from North Africa. Teff in folk Ethoipian means lost, possible the name derives from its tiny size. This grain is so tiny that 150 grains weigh same as a grain of wheat. This grain has flourished since 6000 years ago and is related to another superfood amaranth.
Today Teff is cultivated in North African countries. According to World Council of Grains, Teff accounts for nearly ¼ cultivation and consumption of cereals in Ethiopia. This grain, found reference in book – Lost crops of Africa, today is fast growing food grain in US as gluten free alternative to wheat. Teff is also cultivated as cheap alternative to livestock fodder; due to small size of grain, small quantities of teff are required to cultivate larger area.
This cereal crop of Ethiopia, was considered as potential candidate for improving nutrition, food security, rural development and sustainable land care by National Research council of US.
As fodder, raising teff plant is cheap and quick. It is considered equally nutritious for cattle and horses. Its high leaf to stem ratio makes it a good fodder grass. Often known as Horse Hay or Summer forage. It is often intercropped with Alfalfa.
Nutritional Value of Teff
Eragrostis tef is a nutrient rich food. It provides body with complete range of nutrients – carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals. 70% of Teff by weight is carbohydrate of which around 10% are dietary fibers. Around 300 grams of teff is sufficient to provide daily requirement of dietary fibers.
Teff is high in Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin and Vitamin B6; 100 gm is sufficient to meet 50%, 33%, 33% and 50% of dietary their daily dietary requirement respectively. Teff is high in manganese, just 25 grams of Teff can meet your daily requirement of manganese. Other minerals which teff supply are Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc and Copper. High amino acids make it a complete food. Daily two serving of this food around 200 gram each can meet daily protein requirement of body. Around 40% of the fats in teff are of nature of Omega-6 fatty acids. Teff is free from gluten and thus helpful for people with celiac disease.
Health benefits of Teff Grain
Apart from being wonderful source of energy, Teff offers health benefits from supplies of vitamins and minerals. It helps protect body from mineral deficiency disorders. Its digestive fibers keeps digestive system fit and controls body sugar. Some of the health benefits of Teff grain are discussed below:
Teff as source of energy
Teff provides similar amount of calories per gram as Wheat. Teff is staple food in Ethiopia and parts of Africa. Teff offers alternative to gluten free sources of energy, which makes it popular in US.
Teff is Gluten free
Many people suffer from Celiac disease caused by body response towards dietary gluten present in cereals like Wheat, barley and rye. Teff is excellent example of gluten free food packed with other vital nutrients. Teff flour also has capacity to be baked and cooked into common food forms, making it useful alternative to regular staple cereals.
Teff grain aids digestion
High dietary fibers in Teff help provide necessary roughage to large intestine, necessary for bowel movements. It helps prevent constipation and keeps digestive tract clean. Two cups of Teff is sufficient to provide daily requirement of dietary fibers.
Just like other cereals, Teff grain also provides necessary dietary fibers helpful in preventing intestinal disorder. Teff grains improve peristalsis in the intestine and increase the bulk of the stools, thus keeping internal system clean.
Teff helps controlling blood sugar
With high digestive fiber content, glycemic index of Teff grain is low. This means that digestive fibers along with water forms gel in stomach and prevents digestion of sugar. Sugar is thus absorbed slowly in body. This offers health benefits for people with diabetes. Research has also found presence of resistant starch which helps stabilize blood sugar.
Iron in Teff helps keep away Anemia
Anemia is condition seen in people with iron and Vitamin B deficiency. With supplies of iron and vitamin B, Teff is considered good food to keep away anemia. Especially for women in Ethiopia who are prone to Anemic conditions, Teff is a boon. Studies have found that high iron content in teff is because of iron containing soil which sticks to the small grain, which is equally good dietary source of iron. Excessive washing of teff grains can reduce its iron content.
Teff grains in treating Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis or porous bone, is caused by low bone mass resulting in bone fragility. Teff is good source of Calcium and Magnesium which is required for healthy and strong bones. Teff is considered good for people suffering from osteoporosis. Teff should be consumed by menopausal women as it reduces PMS symptoms and helps keep bones strong.
Teff to fight Magnesium deficiency
Magnesium deficiency is often characterized by low energy levels, fatigue, anxiety. Teff supplies body with dose of magnesium which helps fight such deficiency symptoms and helps body muscles relax. Consumption of Teff provides relief in restless leg, sleeplessness and muscle cramping.
Teff and weight loss
What are general characteristics of weight loss food? Food considered good for weight loss have low calories, high dietary fibers, low on sodium with ample supplies of vitamins and minerals. Apart from ample calories it provides, Teff is good source of dietary fibers and essential nutrients. Replacing some part of cereals in diet by Teff grain, is good way to start weight loss regime. Teff also has low glycemic index which reduces digestion of sugar in body and creates feeling of filled stomach. This is good for people suffering from obesity and frequent urge for food.
Teff is good for heart
Teff grain with high fiber content prevents absorption of bad cholesterol in body. Cholesterol is prime cause of various heart related disorders.
Teff good for hair
Teff is good source of dietary copper and zinc, which are essential in preventing premature hair loss. Intake of Teff can be increase to supply body with copper and aid hair growth.
Teff as Antioxidant food
A recent research has found strong antioxidant activity in Teff. The research concluded that this Ethiopian food as potential in development of processed food products and offers varied nutritional and health benefits.
Cereals like Teff grain contains phytosterols which are promising in research of cancer. These phytosterols prevents secretion of estrogen hormone in body which promotes breast cancer. With high fiber content, it helps in prevention of harmful toxins from intestine and prevents colon cancers.
Culinary uses of Teff
Teff grains are ivory or dark brown in colour. While lighter grains are mild in taste, darker grains have higher starch. Cooking of teff is very much similar to millet or quinoa.
In Ethiopia, injera bread is common form of consumption of Teff. This requires teff grain to be ground and fermented overnight. This sourdough is then cooked over a flat pan. Enjera / Injera bread is soft thin pancake with sour taste; very much similar to Indian dosas. Injera is used as food warps in Ethiopian recipes. Teff porridge is good breakfast meal, while teff is also fermented to make alcoholic beverages like tella or katikala.
Today, Teff finds its use in various baked products, breakfast cereals and other fast foods. Teff drink similar to soy milk, made from diluted sugar and proteins of teff along with other ingredients is also commercially sold.
Some recipes of Teff
Teff Porridge – In a pan, with small amount of butter roast teff grain. Once the colour turns little dark, add to this 3-4 times as much water. Milk can be used in place of water. For each cup of teff, add a tablespoon of sugar. Stir the mixture while heating on low flame, until water is absorbed. To this you may add almonds, nuts or even cut fruits.
Blueberry Lemon Bread with Teff Flour – Preheat oven to 180°C and place a lightly butter greased loaf pan for 2 minutes. Add in a large bowl, 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup sugar and two eggs. Beat the eggs well. In another bowl, combine together 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup Teff flour along with 1 tsp baking powder. Add some grated lemon zest and mix well. Mix this with ½ cup milk and the egg mixture. Mix well. Add some blueberries when you fold the dough in loaf pan. Bake this for 1 hour at 120°C. Mix a tablespoon of lemon juice with equal sugar and spoon the mixture over loaf.