Many people have gluten allergies and they have to consume gluten-free alternatives like grains, flours, or other eatable things that are gluten-free in order to avoid allergies. Finding gluten-free food alternatives is a cumbersome task in itself. Health experts come up with gluten-free foods frequently and one stellar example is “Teff Grains”.
Let’s have a look at what actually are teff grains and how it benefits our health.
What is teff grain and where it comes from?
The scientific name of Teff is Poaceae and it belongs to the grass family. The amazing thing about this grain is that it can grow in drought areas as well as many other weather conditions and because of different weather conditions, these grains have lighter or darker shades that are either ivory or brown. Teff is mentioned as the world’s smallest grain and 100 Teff grains equate to just 1 grain of wheat.
Teff has an earthy, nutty, and slightly sweet taste but the lighter variety of these grains is slightly sweeter than others.
In modern times, wheat or flour are processed to remove gluten but Teff grains are naturally gluten free, also this crop is naturally resistant to pests or bacteria when growing and the sprouting process is also rapid.
This crop is native to Ethiopia and has been growing in this region since 6000 years ago. Its origin history dates back in between 4000 BC and 1000 BC. This crop has always been a staple food in ancient Ethiopia as they used its flour in making a flatbread called Injera and till modern age it is used in these regions in different forms.
Nutritional facts of teff
The facts given below are for 100 gm of teff grains:
- Energy: 101 kcal
- Carbohydrates: 19.86 gm
- Fiber: 2.8 gm
- Fat: 0.65 gm
- Protein: 3.87 gm
- Calcium: 49 mg
- Iron: 2.05 mg
- Magnesium: 50 mg
The uncooked form of teff has a higher content of water as much as 9% and also it contains more fiber than any other cereal. For the reason that it has no gluten, many methods are developed to use its flour in baking bread or pasta.
Health benefits of teff grains
After reviewing the history of this amazing tiny grain, let’s view the amazing health benefits of Teff grains.
1. High Content of Fiber and Weight Loss
Teff is affluent in fiber, protein, copper, and other nutrients which promotes healthy weight loss as well as produces energy. The soluble and insoluble fiber present in teff grains makes bowel movements smooth, keeps the stomach in shape, and prevents constipation. The fiber present in the grain provides a feeling of fullness, so one might feel less hungry which aids in weight loss. Anyone struggling with weight loss or obesity should include this cereal in their daily routine diet due to the fact that this cereal has fewer carbohydrates than any other food.
2. Iron-Rich Grains
This hearty grain has a tremendous amount of iron in it and offers 30% of our daily iron requirement. As iron is very essential in transporting oxygen throughout the body, teff provides a surprising volume of iron content which is considered to be perfect for treating anemia in pregnant women. Research showed that teff crops contain 80 mg of iron in 100 gm but it was speculated that this high content of iron came from the soil and the grain itself does not have that much amount of iron.
3. Pre- menstrual Syndrome
Women often feel discomfort, cramping, muscle pains and other body aches during PMS and in today’s world, there are a variety of medicines to treat PMS but from ancient times, teff was used widely to relieve muscle cramping and body aches during periods. The presence of phosphorus and magnesium in this cereal plays a vital role in relaxing cramps or muscles during or before menses. Sometimes women feel low on energy or depressed during menstrual syndrome and eating teff in any form these days, boosts energy and makes the body active.
4. Controlled Diabetes
People wanting to have controlled blood sugar levels or want to avoid sudden spikes and plunges must include teff in their diets. Besides medicines, teff proved to be the best remedy in controlling sugar levels within the blood. Teff is high in manganese, fiber and has a low glycemic index which makes the slow release of insulin in the bloodstream and controls diabetes very well. It is found that one serving of teff delivers 100% of manganese and this much amount of manganese regulates the sugar levels in the blood.
5. Healthy Heart
The low sodium levels in teff cereals provide protection against heart attacks, strain on the cardiovascular system, strokes, clogging of arteries and accumulation of fats around blood vessels. The presence of vitamin B6 in this grain prevents the formation of an amino acid called homocysteine which is a major risk factor for the healthy functioning of organs. Besides vitamin B6, teff’s high fiber content does not allow bad cholesterol to gather around heart arteries, due to which heart attacks can be avoided.
Many people are allergic to gluten present in certain flours and the worst reactions caused by gluten includes:
- Abdominal pain or bloating.
- Bone or joint pains.
- Skin allergies
- Digestive problems
- Mood swings
All the above negative reactions can lead to malnutrition which can be very dangerous. Because of these problems, people should include gluten-free cereals, flours, or other products in their daily routine, to circumvent gluten intolerance. Teff cereals are considered the best option in this regard and can be included in our diets without causing any strain or stress.
Though it is safe to consume teff grain but excessive intake of this grain can have adverse effects which include:
- The fiber content when consumed in excess, can cause bloating or gas.
- The level of thiamine is low in this grain and when this grain is taken as a staple, a thiamine supplement should be included in the diet.
- The high amount of phytate present in teff inhibits the absorption of minerals while people with calcium or zinc deficiency should refrain from eating teff cereals.
Teff is abundant in fiber, protein, minerals, and vitamins and due to this, it is gaining popularity among people nowadays who are on a hunt for gluten-free foods. Ranked as a supreme alternative of wheat flour, although this flour is not widely available and is expensive still many are substituting the ordinary wheat flour with teff flour, in baking or other flour recipes.