teffTeff – Africa’s supergrain!

Eragrostis tef, commonly known as Teff, is a tiny (1 wheat grain = 150 teff grains) that originates from the Eritrean and Ethiopian Highlands since 4,000 BC. Teff is gaining popularity due to its attractive nutrition profile and its mild, nutty and slightly sweet taste. It has a low glycemic index, is gluten-free, and rich in calcium, iron, zinc as well as potassium. Additionally it has an excellent essential amino acids composition. Today, it is also cultivated in Idaho and Kansas in the USA. It is believed in scientific circles that the low incidence of anemia, osteoporosis and diabetes in Eritrea and Ethiopia is connected to the rich nutrient profile of the Teff grain.

Nutritional benefits:

  • Celiac friendly as it doesn’t contain alpha-gliadine-fraction
  • High in calcium
  • Significant levels of essential minerals and trace elements
  • High in protein

Functional benefits:

  • It is similar to quinoa and millet in cooking
  • Relative high (68-80°C) gelatinization temperature can hinder gelatinization and thus decrease susceptibility to enzymatic attack by a-amylase

Industry facts:

  • Still a fledgling industry with Teff being an experimental crop
  • Specialty mills are required as the grain is very tiny and can’t be dehusked
  • Ideal for the health food sector because of its potential for gluten-free application and baby food

Research facts:

Lower Glycemic Index (GI)

Compared to wheat (100) Teff’s glycemic index is 74, which is comparable to that of sorghum (72) and Oats (71). Teff’s good starch (resistant starch) is converted in the colon into healthy components like organic acids thus enforcing the body’s infections resistance. Other components from the starch perform vital functions during the human metabolism.

Minerals and Trace Elements & Protein

Teff’s trace elements like copper and manganese play equally a vital role in the metabolism. Teff contains a well-balanced amino acid composition and shows a relative high concentration of lysine, a major limiting amino acid in cereals. Similarly, Teff also comprises higher contents of isoleucine, leucine, valine, tyrosine, threonine, methionine, phenylalanine, arginine, alanine, and histidine compared to other cereals.

Teff and athletic performance have been researched well in Europe. Teff has the lowest phytate-to-iron ratio of all the cereals consumed, which results in higher iron and calcium uptake. Especially the high iron absorption is critical for athletes as it is linked with a higher red blood cell count providing better oxygen binding capacity and therefore improves endurance and performance.