Teff is one of the most nutritious alternative grains in the world. It offers calcium, fiber, protein, and antioxidants. It’s a great source of energy, protects bone health, and provides long-lasting satiation that can even help to support weight loss efforts. Compared with wheat, teff is higher in nutrients and easier on digestion, mainly because it is absent of gluten. If you take a close look, you’ll see just how this nutritional powerhouse can support your health.
5 Benefits of Teff
Teff can be purchased in its whole form and cooked in the same way as quinoa. Also, teff flour is available for the gluten-free baker out there, adding flavor, nutrition, and color to your baked goods. Here are some of the benefits of teff you really should know.
1. Naturally Gluten Free
Teff is a gluten-free grain, meaning it doesn’t contain the protein responsible for allergic and digestive reactions.  Although some may think only people diagnosed with celiac disease can be affected, the truth is that most people, regardless of whether or not they are diagnosed with celiac disease, are sensitive or downright intolerant to gluten. Certain skin conditions, digestive complaints, and mood disturbances are all subtle ways your body is telling you that something in your diet is not right.
2. Provides Long-Lasting Energy
Most grains contain protein, but usually not in adequate amounts to be sufficient for a healthy diet. Teff is much higher in amino acids in comparison to other grains, especially lysine.  While teff isn't quite a complete source of protein, the amino acids are great for supporting energy levels. Teff is considered a whole grain, so its carbohydrates are slowly broken down into glucose for a steady assimilation into cells. This means that, compared with refined grains, teff may help support energy without the crashes experienced following consumption of refined carbohydrates.
3. Keeps You Regular
One ounce of teff flour contains about five grams of fiber, compared to all-purpose wheat flour which only contains 1 gram. Including more high-fiber grains in your diet is a great way to ensure regularity in your bowel movements.  Regularity is important for removing toxic wastes from the colon, which may be helpful for reducing accumulation of toxic compounds in the body. The added fiber also increases satiation which may be helpful for reducing snacking in between meals.
4. Energy Efficient
Teff is a much smaller grain compared to rice and wheat, so it typically cooks faster. This makes teff an energy-efficient grain, making it popular among environmentalists and health foodies alike. Since it does cook faster than most grains, it is important to watch it carefully during preparation.
5. Supports Bone Health
It can be difficult to find a good source of calcium, especially if you’re avoiding dairy. While milk is thought to be the go-to, there are other whole foods that are much more nutritious that provide about the same amount of calcium – like teff.  Its protein content may also add an extra boost for bone health, and the high level of antioxidants contained within the grain could also be considered protective for the bone matrix.
How to Prepare Teff
Teff can be prepared in a similar fashion as quinoa or rice. Due to its small size, teff cooks faster than most grains so keep your eye on it. Generally, a 1:2 ratio of grain to water should be used. Teff can be substituted in place of rice or steel-cut oats in a variety of recipes while adding a delicious, nutty flavor. Teff flour can replace around ¼ of the total flour used in baked goods to increase the final product’s nutritional profile.
Have you ever used teff? How do you like it? What are your favorite ways to consume this alternative grain? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments!
- Letizia Saturni, Gianna Farretti, and Tiziana Bacchetti. The Gluten-Free Diet: Safety and Nutritional Quality. Nutrients. Jan 2010; 2(1): 16-34.
- G. R. Jansen, L. R. DiMaio, N. L. Hause. Cereal Proteins, Amino Acid Composition and Lysine Supplementation of Teff. J. Agric. Food Chem. 1962, 10(1), pp. 62-64. doi: 10.1021/jf60119a021.
- Doris Piccinin, M.S. R.D., Tsegazeab Woldetatios, PhD. More About Ethiopian Food: Teff. EthnoMed.
- Utah State University. Teff. Food Sense: Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.