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Meet teff, a high-protein grain that can help with anaemia, stamina, and more

Updated on:8 February 2021, 19:03pm IST
A very small grain with very big benefits, teff comes from Ethiopia and has protein content comparable to eggs!
Pariksha Rao
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This small African grain can be a great addition to the Indian diet. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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In the list of all things healthy, whole grains often find a place on the top. Then be it whole wheat or native Indian cereals like jowar and bajra—these fibre-rich grains are a boon for health. That’s why today we want to acquaint you to another grain: one that can turn your health around.

We’re talking about teff, an indigenous Ethiopian annual crop cultivated mainly for its small grain. Teff happens to be the smallest grain known to mankind. The colour of the seed is either white or very deep reddish brown.

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Teff is catching the eye of fitness enthusiasts all over the world thanks to its gluten-free nature, high level of essential amino acids, mineral content, low glycemic index (GI), high crude fibre content and for being a one-of-a-kind cereal that is rich in Vitamin C.

Here’s what makes teff really great

Teff was once a long kept secret of Ethiopian athletes. It is the perfect endurance building grain. Teff contains high quality protein with the complete amino acid profile. Various studies have reported a 37% EAA content—essential amino acids, the ones that are necessary to be obtained by diet as our body cannot make them—in teff, with the dominant amino acid being glutamine and lysine.

Lot of research has shown teff to be rich in prolamins and albumin and thus the protein quality is said to be comparable to egg protein—which is by far the best protein quality.

It might just be more nutritious than other grains

Teff grain is also high in iron content and other minerals such as calcium, copper, and zinc compared to other cereal grains consumed as whole grain flours—including wheat, maize, barley, and sorghum.

It was also recently proven to be a significant source of bioactive compounds including polyphenols, especially very rich in flavonoid derivatives which are rare in the other common grains.

teff
Try teff if you feel extreme fatigue all the time. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Some studies have reported in-vitro antioxidant activities of the grainthus, it is believed to improve the haemoglobin level in the human body and help prevent malaria, anaemia, and diabetes.

Here’s how you can add teff to Indian cooking

A little bit of teff adds a whole lot of crunch in any recipe. Further, it has a unique nutty flavour that is just delicious. Adding teff to the Indian diet is very simple. To everyday breakfast—bowl of cereal, muesli, upma, poha, idli etc—just add 2 tbsp. of dry roasted teff.

This will not only give a great protein boost, but also add the crunch that is missing in daliyas and upmas. What can be a better calorie-conscious and nutritious way to add texture and crunch?

Pariksha Rao Pariksha Rao

Pariksha Rao is a clinical nutritionist. She is also the co-founder and chief nutrition officer at Lil’ Goodness