Terrific Teff: Is it the NEW Superfood?

Nutrition // Natasha Dickins // 25 August 2014

If you have special dietary requirements such as diabetes, coeliac or vegetarian, then teff – the new superfood – could be your miracle menu worker!

Teff is an African cereal from Ethiopia used mainly to make flour and a traditional flatbread called injera. As the tiniest grain in the world it packs a punch of health benefits including being low-fat, gluten-free and a great source of protein – so it’s good for vegetarians.

This little grain looks just like mini sesame or poppy seeds, depending on the variety, and tastes a bit like quinoa or millet. When it’s ground into flour it can be used for baking and as a substitute for wheat flour.

You can buy teff flour from about $15 for 680g at health food stores (online at glutenfreeshop.com.au or myhealthhub.com.au), or at the African cuisine website shieldandspear.com.au.

5 reasons why teff is terrific!

1. It’s a Secretly Famous Superfood

Apparently celebrities Gwyneth Paltrow and Victoria Beckham love the healthy benefits, but they also like the nutty, grainy taste that adds an extra flavour depth to dishes. Mix it with herbs, spices and mince beef to make meatballs or with tofu for veggie patties.

2. It Repairs Muscles

With more protein than wheat and almost twice as much calcium as spinach, teff contains amino acids and is high in lysine for growth and muscle repair (especially good if you sign up for 12WBT and do lots of exercise!).

Teff is the main source of carbohydrates in the diet of most of Ethiopia’s elite runners, including marathon world record holder Haile Gebrselassie.

3. Great for a Gluten-Free Diet

Because teff doesn’t contain any gluten, it’s a solution for those with celiac disease, gluten intolerances and wheat sensitivities. Substitute teff flour for regular flour to make pasta, add to soups to thicken them or use to make pancakes. Check out what 12WBT dietitian Chantelle has to say about eating gluten-free here.

4. Definitely for Diabetics

Teff has iron that absorbs easily, a relatively low glycemic index (GI) and is made up of about 20-40% resistant starches that can help diabetics control blood sugar levels. Resistant starch has been found to improve insulin sensitivity and help with glucose tolerance, and has less calories than regular starch. Use it to stay healthy while making treat foods such as cakes and biscuits.

5. Teff Keeps You Regular

Teff contains indigestible starch-based carbohydrates that go through the small intestine without being digested and act like fibre. It keeps you feeling fuller for longer and helps regular bowel movements – which you need to prevent colorectal cancers and irritable bowel syndrome. A review by University of Colorado Cancer Center looked at studies into foods containing resistant starches and found they could help prevent these.

Sign up to 12WBT today for access to more than 650 healthy recipes and a Nutrition Plan you can tweak and customise to cater for a gluten-free diet, diabetes or other special eating requirements.

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