The Newest Star Among Healthy Grains: Teff

healthy grains

Teff originates in Ethiopia, where it is used to make traditional sourdough flatbread, injera. Today, teff is climbing the ladder of popularity among healthy grains and proving itself to be a superfood that is both tasty and gluten-free.

Before you jump the gun, read about what you are getting yourself into.

Teff has now earned international credibility, with the most teff grown in the U.S. coming from Idaho. It is the tiniest of all grains and survives in most climates. In one cup of cooked teff, there are 255 calories, 2 grams of fat, 7 grams of dietary fiber and 10 grams of protein. Teff is also an excellent source of calcium, which is not normally found in grains, and iron, providing 12 percent and 29 percent of your recommended daily allowance, respectively. The ancient grain is also rich in vitamin B6, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate.

Protein-packed teff also provides your body with all eight essential amino acids. It has been estimated that Ethiopians get approximately two-thirds of their dietary protein from teff. Many long-distance runners in Ethiopia attribute their performance energy and overall health to teff.

For those of you who are diabetic, consider adding teff to your diet. The grain is effective in controlling blood sugar levels on account of containing some 20 percent to 40 percent resistant starches and boasting a low-glycemic index.

Teff’s fiber content is also of vital importance. Not only does fiber improve digestion, combating constipation and other gastrointestinal diseases, it also contributes to weight regulation and reaps cardiovascular benefits.

In Ethiopia, teff is often ground into flour and used to make the fermented, spongy injera bread, which acts as an edible serving plate, so to speak. In the Western diet, it is often used in baked goods, breads, snacks, pancakes, and cereals. Its flavor is light, mild and slightly sweet.

Aylin Erman is founder of GlowKitchen. There she shares step-by-step picture recipes of her plant-based creations. Aylin lives and works in Istanbul as a writer and editor at the country’s first-ever green-living and sustainability platform, Yesilist. Like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter to keep up with food news and recipes.

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Photo Credit: A. Davey