Teff

An ancient as well as fascinating grain, teff is tiny in size, but loaded with nutrition. Preparing teff is easy and very akin to cooking quinoa or millet. If you add teff to your diet, it can contribute to enhance the nutrition, flavor as well as the variety of your meal.

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Teff originated in Ethiopia sometime between 4000 BC and 1000 BC and today it contributes to one-fourth of the country's entire cereal production. People in northeast Africa have been using teff for several centuries now; the remaining parts of the world came to know about this grain only in the latter part of the 20th century. People came to know about this grain only after farmers started cultivating it in the Central United States and Australia.

Teff has a very long history, which dates back to several thousand years - precisely speaking to the ancient Abyssinian civilization. In fact, available documents reveal that this fascinating grain served as a dependable source for the survival of our early ancestors. These days, more and more people are turning to teff because it is not only gluten-free, but also a versatile food. Together with other alternative grains such as millet and quinoa, teff has also become popular among health conscious people owing to its high nutritional worth.

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A very fine grain, teff is around the same size as a poppy seed. This grain is available in various colors ranging from white to red and even deep brown. Teff mainly grows in Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea in Africa and possesses the ability to survive even during harsh climatic conditions. By itself, teff is a staple grain in the cuisines of people of these African nations. Teff has an extremely mild, nut-like flavor and the grain is loaded with nutrients. In addition, the balance of amino acids in this grain is excellent. Teff also contains rich amounts of protein, and essential minerals like iron and calcium.

Teff is grounded into flour, which is employed for making the traditional bread known as injera. This fermented bread is flat, very similar to a pancake, made with exotic spices that are found in foods from the region. Alternatively, teff can also be pulverized into wonderful flour alternative that is without any gluten content. This flour can be used to make breads, cookies, pie crusts as well as a variety of other baked goods. In addition, one can also eat teff as a whole food after steaming, boiling or baking it. It can be used both as a side dish as well as a main course.

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As the demand for teff is growing every day, it is now available more readily in various regions of North America. Generally, you can find this grain in health food stores. It is also available as teff flour.

Health benefits of teff

Teff is a wonderful health food that is packed with several effective nutrients, which are necessary for our body to carry out its normal functions. Compared to normal wheat, the protein content in teff is much higher. In addition, teff contains an assortment of minerals such as calcium and iron, and thiamine. Our body can easily assimilate all these, particularly iron.

Teff also contains elevated amounts of dietary fiber, which is extremely beneficial for diabetes patients. Fiber effectively manages the blood sugar levels in our body, making the condition somewhat more tolerable. Moreover, dietary fiber found in teff makes us feel full, thereby having a satiated effect. In other words, one would have less craving for food, which, in turn, would help in weight loss. People who are suffering from general digestive problems are advised to eat teff, as this wonderful grain helps to alleviate the ailments almost immediately.

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When we talk about gluten, we actually denote a compound that is found in nearly all wheat products. This substance is responsible for allergic reactions in a number of people, especially those who are susceptible. In fact, gluten is very harmful for people enduring celiac disease. As these patients also need protein, they can safely consume teff, which does not contain gluten, but is high in protein content. Even other people who are sensitive to wheat can safely consume teff. Therefore, teff is considered to be a healthy alternative for wheat. Interestingly, people in Ethiopia, where teff is consumed widely, there are comparatively fewer incidences of anemia. This particular health benefit of this grain is attributed to its high iron content. In fact, teff contains more iron compared to other grains like maize.

As far as the mineral content of teff is concerned, the mineral content of this grain is relatively high owing to the presence of iron. Precisely speaking, teff is generally recommended for those enduring anemia. Iron is a vital component of the red blood cells (erythrocytes) and deficit of this mineral in the body makes us weak, feel dizzy, suffer muscle cramps, headaches and cognitive impairment, which are all symptoms associated with anemia. Therefore, if you are keen on boosting your circulation as well as augment supply of adequate oxygen to the various organs of your body, it is advisable that you incorporate some amount of teff or include injera bread into your diet right away.

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Since teff contains as many as eight dissimilar amino acids, counting a somewhat rare amino acid known as lysine, it can provide considerable support for growth as well as development. Protein is necessary for our body for new cell growth, repairing old and worn out cells as well as our all-purpose development all through our life. Although proteins derived from animals are useful for these purposes, our body finds it easier to break down proteins from plant sources into amino acids. This is one of the reasons why you need to incorporate teff or something similar into your diet. This is not true only for vegetarians, but for all connoisseurs of health foods.

While nearly all grains pack various essential minerals, they are not very well known for enclosing considerable amounts of vitamins, especially vitamin C. Most of us are aware that vitamin C is a vital element of our immune system, since this vitamin encourages the production as well as the activity of leucocytes or white blood cells. At the same time, vitamin C is also a crucial element of collagen, which is necessary for creating new cells, blood vessels, muscle tissues as well as organs. Elevated amounts of protein together with vitamin C, which are present in teff in abundance, make this grain an effective dietary staple, which possesses the ability to have a considerable favourable effect on one's general health.

It has been found that teff also possesses anti-inflammatory properties and since time immemorial it has proved to be effective in alleviating the problems faced by women during menstruation. Therefore, women who are inclined to have profuse menstrual flow, suffer from acute cramps and endure other physical problems during their menstrual periods would benefit by incorporating teff into their diet. Teff will not only help to alleviate these discomforts, but also make life easier for such women.

For thousands of years, people have been using teff in the form of a laxative. Consumption of this grain accelerates the digestive process. This health benefit of teff is attributed to the elevated amounts of dietary fiber contained by this wonderful grain. Presence of dietary fiber helps to bulk up stool, promote peristaltic motion and also improve the regularity as well as quality of our bowel movement. In addition, dietary fiber also helps to maintain a healthy balance of the cholesterol levels by means of getting rid of surplus omega-6 fatty acids from the body. By this way, consumption of teff helps to alleviate problems like bloating, constipation, cramps as well as other more severe gastrointestinal problems.

Teff also contains elevated levels of another mineral - copper. This essential mineral plays a vital role in our body and is responsible for energy generation, enzymatic reactions, and development of red blood cells, growth and repair as well as the proper functioning of the nervous system. Absence of adequate levels of copper in our body may result in the malfunctioning of several systems. Hence, it is a wonderful way to add copper to our system by consuming teff regularly.

Before we conclude, it is important to mention that teff has been found to be extremely beneficial for the health of our heart. As this grain contains low sodium, it ensures that our arteries are not severely blocked. At the same time, findings of a number of studies undertaken to examine the health benefits of teff have shown that this grain also effectively lowers high blood pressure (hypertension). Alleviating hypertension may be helpful in lessening the risks of cardiac problems like heart attacks or strokes. By and large, teff is also useful for reducing the strain on our cardiovascular system.

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